Sunday, June 19, 2011

Prep Notes: An Introduction to Galatians

I've been dismally neglecting this blog and mission after being stuck at work - partly because I tried a couple of times to focus on the first sermon; "Gospel not in word only" and just found I was stuck for words! I have such increased profound respect for preachers and pastor/teachers! But also was just so tired from work.

However I have been reading Thomas Schriener's new commentary on "Galatians" and greatly been enjoying it and it has encouraged me to think through this series of sermons. Schriener summarises the main idea in the opening of Galatians as;

"Paul's desire for the Galatians to enjoy grace and peace. He was called as an apostle so that they would enjoy such blessings".

This is an important insight into the ministry that is apostles and one that both Rob Rufus and Terry Virgo refer to in their summaries of apostleship. The apostle is a key Ephesians 4 Ministry for being a catalyst for the glory of grace! What else do both men do? Who else have we learned more about grace from than both Rob and Terry?

Here is a breakdown of the whole book;

1. Introduction: Desertion from Paul's Gospel is Desertion from the Gospel (1:1-2:21).

A. Greeting: Paul's Apostolic Authority (1:1-5)

i. Sender: Paul and fellow believers (1:1-2)
ii. Prayer Wish: (1:3)
iii. Purpose of Christ's death (1:4)
iv. Glory to God (1:5).

Schriener makes a couple of useful comments on Paul's apostleship;

"Paul was called as an apostle on the Damascus Road when the Lord Jesus appeared to him (Gal 1:12, 1 Cor 9:1, Acts 9:1-7). He was particularly called to proclaim the gospel to the Gentiles (Rom 11:13, Gal 1:16, 1 Tim 2:7). His apostleship was verified by the churches he established (1 Cor 9:2) and by the signs he performed (2 Cor 12:12)".

I think this commentary on v1 of Galatians 1 gives a great insight and start for the first sermon on apostles. I think that's being fair to the text - obviously to begin by speaking of Paul but applying it to the desperate need for apostles today in the modern church (giving some space of course to defending apostles today).

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Preliminary Thoughts

I suddenly realised that it's not quite as easy as all that to simply commence a blog documenting a whole heap of sermons I'm going to preach to myself! There are questions to be answered.

Sadly I don't have a spiritual father in the faith such as David Holden had in Terry Virgo, or the Dunstable students had in Stanley Jebb, or Josh Harris had in C J Mahaney. I hoped desperately and prayed for a father at times and like a tease God has at times seemed to almost bring one - like Peter Cockrell for a season back in 2000-2001 or Stanley Jebb for a time when I was in Bristol. But it's all just never quite happened. So I must imagine a spiritual father is asking me about my preaching and teaching me.
So here's some questions and my answers;

1. What "kind" of preaching are you going to attempt?

Many of my heroes preach in various ways. Stanley and Ern and Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones and Terry Virgo and so on preached expository preaching wonderfully. Other heroes like Rob Rufus vary somewhat. I found David Pawson gave a really helpful chapter in "Preach the Word!" (and lecture at the 'Preach the Word!' school) which was a personal testimony on the variety of preaching methods he has attempted. But it actually sums up well the variety of preaching methods around - here's some of the ones I may use:

A. Testimony Preaching (often see it used by men used mightily of God - "I saw God do this").

I won't use that for a number of reasons - God hasn't yet used me mightily in signs and wonders so I haven't got much to say! Of course I have a testimony and it may be useful at times to share it but rarely.

B. Topic Preaching (e.g marriage or teens or so on) and Burden Preaching.

Absolutely - at times. For example I really want to get into the Person of the Holy Spirit using Gordon Fee's "God's Empowering Presence". But always based in understanding a text of Scripture. Pawson talked about "Burden Preaching" in the context of his heart for the Islamic world but I think it applies here. I find "burdens" come on me such as hearing John Macarthur ask a question like; "Has the church forgotten the Holy Spirit?". That burdens me! To hear a cessationist like him say that - challenges me as a charismatic!

C. Passage Preaching (e.g expository).

That's where David Pawson spent the majority of his preaching ministry and will probably be mine - because that's my background and experience and where I'm most comfortable.

2. So why the Person of the Holy Spirit and Galatians or Philippians?

To me first and foremost the Person of the Holy Spirit is an issue that is a "burden" to me. Here in the UK - we are just not getting it. We have seen renewals to be sure but we played around with tongues and prophecy and now we have re-settled back down into "boring" charismatic life. Church isn't exciting. And that has happened because I think we've boxed the Holy Spirit in and are not allowing Him to do what He does best. I want to get to know God in me.

And Galatians (I think I've settled for) - because the other great concern on my life is getting rid of legalism and the ties of my past. And what greater book that Galatians? There are some great commentaries on this wonderful book too that will be an awesome help. Thomas Schriener's most recent commentary on Galatians is just out (December 2010) and C J Mahaney's assistant found and gathered some sermons Schriener preached here:
  1. The Gospel: Our Life (1:1–9)
  2. The Supernatural Gospel (1:10–24)
  3. The Freedom Of The Gospel (2:1–10)
  4. Public Church Discipline (2:11–14)
  5. Faith In Christ (2:15–21)
  6. Don’t Be Foolish (3:1)
  7. Faith From First To Last (3:1–9)
  8. Not By Law (3:10–14)
  9. Blessed With Abraham (3:10–14)
  10. Promise, Not Law! (3:15–20)
  11. The Role Of The Law (3:21–26)
  12. Freedom From Ourselves (4:1–11)
  13. Words For A Friend (4:12–20)
  14. Citizens Of The Free City (4:21–5:1)
  15. Faith Alone (5:2–6)
  16. Comfort In Trouble (5:7–12)
  17. True Freedom (5:13–18)
  18. Life In The Flesh And Life In The Spirit (5:19–26)
  19. Bearing Burdens And Examining Your Work (6:1–5)
  20. Keep Sowing To The End (6:6–10)
  21. Our Last Time (6:11–18)
3. So what's the first sermons to be prepared today?

As I mentioned in the first post yesterday - I want to try and prepare two sermons a week as inspired by my senior pastor Dr Stanley Jebb. If this works well then I may add another sermon in (pretending I am speaking at a mid-week meeting).

So Galatians:

I am going to follow Schriener's model and look at Galatians 1:1-9.

And the Holy Spirit:

Using Gordon Fee's model of "God's Empowering Presence" - I am going to be looking at:

1 Thessalonians 1:4-6.

They will be up on the blog this time next week.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Preach the Word!!

Let me say up front this is MY blog and it's personal. It is set up on the back of a couple of days challenge to "preach the Word" and "write what you see". I have bemoaned the lack of good preaching in the United Kingdom and have been challenged as to "what are YOU doing about it?". I am no preacher - and have never had an audience or a congregation but should that stop me from writing what I see in God's Word and preaching it to a quiet empty room?

So this is no move to promote myself or my ministry. It is a simple spiritual discipline that I hope will get me deeper into God's Word and will begin to build a collection of sermons that may never be read or even heard. But at least I've written down what I've seen.

I am basing this project on the wonderful example that my senior pastor Dr Stanley Jebb taught me in Dunstable at my home church. He faithfully preached Sunday after Sunday, week after week, month after month, year after year - twice a Sunday! So many preachers bemoan how hard they find life - and yet preach once a Sunday! Dr Jebb would preach mid-week at meetings too. Like other historical heroes - John Calvin, C H Spurgeon. These men who preach and prepare sermon after sermon incredibly and their knowledge and love for the Word was just second to none!

So I am going to attempt to write (and preach to myself) two sermons a week.

1. Series 1: Sermons on "God's Empowering Presence" - inspired by Gordon Fee's massive book taking Scripture after Scripture on the wonderful Person of the Holy Spirit.

2. Series 2: Sermon on a more expository verse by verse walk through a book of the Bible (either Ephesians or Galatians - I haven't decided yet which!).

I am just finishing re-reading Greg Haslam's mighty; "Preach the Word!" volume because up til now I have been a receiver of the preached Word. The "Preach the Word!" conference that I went to with Pete Day was an awesome reminder of how much rests on the head of preachers.

Here's to yet another adventure. It may be a complete flop and I'll delete the blog before long! But how fab if it could be even responsible for the salvation of just one soul? How fab if it could "set a prisoner free or bind up the broken-hearted"? It is after all God's eternal Word - and all it needs is to be set free!