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I made a decision last year to preach through the Gospel of Matthew verse-by-verse.  In preacher-talk this is known as expository preaching.  You take a book of the bible and go through it systematically and in order, much in the same way you would read a letter from a loved one (which is really what the bible is, after all).  This is different from topical preaching where you take an idea or theme, “forgiveness” for example, and jump around preaching from different places in the bible where “forgiveness” is dealt with.  In the worst case, preachers will preach on whatever they want and just cherry-pick verses to bolster their point with little regard for context or approriateness, but that’s hopefully not the norm.

I’m not going to say that there is only ONE way to preach, like a lot of guys do.  There is a place for both kinds of preaching and so long as the Word is faithfully examined I am happy.  Besides, even with expository preaching the preacher ends up looking at other sections of the bible where the topic of the passage is dealt with (this last week I preached on temptation and quoted verses from 1 Corinthians, James, 2 Corinthians, 1 Peter, Genesis and 1 Kings, for example).  However, I do think that expository preaching, for the most part, is the best way to preach the bible as far as getting across what God meant and being true to the context of the bible.  In addition, it helps keep preachers from just preaching what they think and using the bible as a proof text while ignoring things they don’t want to preach on (for example, next week I’m preaching on fasting, something I normally wouldn’t do).

In the last year I’ve really enjoyed going through the Book of Matthew in this way and have learned a lot from taking each verse in order to see what God is saying.  I just finished preaching through the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6 and learned so much more about prayer and God’s heart than I would have in just preaching a series on “Prayer” and using the Lord’s Prayer as an illustration.  I’ve also had to deal with some hard subjects, like divorce and remarriage, that I might have just avoided if I were just preaching topical sermons.

Once again, I’m not criticizing topical preaching, but I do want to encourage preachers to consider expository preaching and for everyone to listen to great expository preachers like John McArthur, Matt Chandler, Mark Driscoll and John Piper (among others).  I think you will see that their preaching opens the bible in ways that you’ll enjoy.

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Talk about bad timing.  I could have used this survey as a sermon illustration.  Let me explain: I just preached this weekend on the fact that Truth is under attack, specifically the truth about God, the bible, sin and Jesus.  No surprise there, the Truth has been under attack since the Garden of Eden when the serpent began the war of disinformation.

The gist of my sermon was that the Truth about God is being attacked by those who say there is no God and that we all just got here by accident.  Therefore, the bible is questioned, since if there is no God then the bible is not God’s Word, by definition.  If the bible is not true, then there is no scriptural basis for right or wrong and we have no standard as Christians to base our faith.

And finally, that means that the truth about Jesus is under attack.  The truth about Jesus, according to the bible, is that he is the Son of God, the one and only way to be saved.  You can believe this or not, but it’s what the New Testament teaches.  We’ve seen that truth being attacked more and more, not only from unbelievers, but from those who claim to be Christians yet are so gracious as to assert that he is not the only way to the Father.  A lot of the guys who are “big names” in the Christian world today are not willing to claim that Jesus is the only way to be saved, yet they are speaking at our conferences and are best-sellers in Christian bookstores.

Some people call this “tolerance”.  No, tolerance is respecting other people and not persecuting them for their beliefs.  But it’s not intolerant to assert that what the bible says about Jesus in John 14:6 is true.

Now this survey comes out, as reported on the Fox News website.  The results are astonishing.  57% of evangelicals believe that other religions can lead to eternal life. Evangelical Christians.  That’s astonishing because that goes against basic evangelical doctrine.  83% of mainline Protestants believe that, which doesn’t surprise me, but 57% of evangelicals does.  59% of black Protestants responding and 79% of Catholics also believe that other religions can lead to eternal life.

Should we in the evangelical church be alarmed when even folks who are in the evangelical church believe this?  I should think so… it should make us look a little more carefully at what we’re preaching and who we’re reading.  I’m not a big fan of the tactics that the discernment ministries use, but this survey kind of makes you wonder if their cries about the erosion of the Christian faith in the evangelical world are not on target, even if their methods are a bit grating.  57% of evangelicals think that Jesus is not the only way to be saved– doesn’t take a lot of discernment to see that this is a problem.

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This is the first in a three part series that I just finished.  It occurred to me one day that we could learn a lot from the emotions that Jesus showed during his earthly ministry.  After all, Jesus was 100% human and 100% divine, so his emotions show a good mix of human reaction and divine will.  Since Jesus only did God’s will, the things that made him mad were the same things that make God mad.  I’m careful to not assign human emotions to God yet I think it’s significant when we see Jesus clearly showing emotion.

In this first sermon I show that Jesus got particularly mad at sin and our refusal to take it seriously.  No, this is not a hellfire and brimstone sermon, but it shows that God clearly detests our sin and hypocrisy.  Enjoy.

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This is the second in my series on what makes God sad, mad and glad.  No, this is not some squishy, liberal sermon about God crying when we kill baby seals, rather, it looks at the things that made Jesus sad during his incarnation and extrapolates to say that the things that made Jesus sad are the same things that would make God sad.  I’m careful to point out that we should not assign human emotions to the Almighty God; however, we can see the emotions of Jesus and know the heart of God.

In a nutshell, it is sin that makes God sad.  Jesus wept to see the suffering of the fallen world acted out at the graveside of Lazarus.  He mourned over Jerusalem which would soon suffer for rejecting God.  He was amazed when he could not do miracles due to the lack of faith in those he encountered in his hometown.

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This is the third sermon in my series on what makes God mad/sad/glad. This one is on what makes God glad and I argue that while there is no scripture that says “Jesus laughed” or even that he was glad, his reactions to outrageous faith show that it was this kind of faith that makes him glad.

Again, I’m not trying to anthropomorphize God, instead, I look at the emotions of Jesus and extrapolate that since Jesus was fully human and fully divine that the things that made Jesus mad/sad/glad are the same things that would make God mad/sad/glad.

 

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I finished my series on Colossians yesterday.  It’s been a great verse-by-verse expository series– something I’m going to try to do more often.  I’ve really gained a deeper appreciation for the supremacy of Christ through this series.

Here’s the next in the series.  Again, rough draft, sorry for any typos, etc.

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 Here is another in my series on Colossians.  This one points out that there is no middle ground when it comes to God: you are either on His side or not.  It also explores the terminology of us being “enemies of God”.  I thought it was a pretty powerful sermon.

Standard disclaimer: this is the first draft, so there may be typos and things that were cut out in the presentation.

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