There is a lot of talk today about toxic religious organizations. In fact it seems to me that a goodly number are competing to be awarded the title, “Most Toxic”. Surely a contender for this crown would have to be The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, or the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
For those interested in the dark corners the JW’s don’t show the rest of the world, I highly recommend reading the following article:
Bo Juel Jesnsen Could Be the Watchtower’s Worst Nightmare.
It’s something of a cliché that your teenage years will be to the soundtrack of odd, angst-ridden music; mine weren’t. While my teenage years were slam full of musical discovery, my taste in music was decidedly different from my peers.
I started playing trumpet at eleven-years-old, and discovered (much to my own surprise) that I was pretty gifted. Gifted enough that as a high school student I got to sit in with Maynard Ferguson and Big Bop Nouveau when I was sixteen, and jammed with the house jazz band at a club in the city where I group up every single Thursday night from fourteen until I joined the Army at eighteen. I was heavily influenced by the grunge movement of the day (Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Screaming Trees, Butthole Surfers, etc.), but I was also listening to Buckshot LeFonque, too.
As I write this post, I’m so angry that my hands are shaking and my vision has spots in it. I haven’t been this mad in over a decade – in fact, mad doesn’t even begin to cover it. I’m !@#$%ing livid.
Some of you are aware of how excited I was to hear that the 28th edition of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece was being released. In fact, I was so excited that I signed up for a seminar on Problems in Early Christian Literature that cost me almost $1788 (once you add up the tuition and fees), which was even more exciting as fully two-thirds of the seminar was going to be dealing with the Geographic-Based Coherence-Modeling that forms the backbone of the NA28. For a guy pursuing a Th.M in New Testament, this was a big freaking deal.
My friend, mentor, confidant, and brilliant preacher, Dr. Joseph A. Pipa, Jr.
So I’ve mentioned in the previous post that there are a lot of sermons being preached that suffer greatly in the area of application.
In this post I want to offer some suggestions (and suggestions is all they are) about how to correct the lack of application in our preaching. Most of what I’m going to say here is drawn from the following sources:
- The Relevance of Preaching, by Pierre Ch. Marcel
- The Art of Prophesying, by William Perkins
- Any collection of sermons you can find by the Puritans.
- The Westminster Directory of Worship.
For the purposes of this post, I’m not going to cover the exegetical process, but instead I’m going to look at the process of sermon preparation generally, and then how to apply the sermon, more specifically. I’m also going to presuppose that the entire process of sermon preparation has been done in a spirit of prayer and absolute dependence on the the Holy Spirit. What I’m offering is just nuts and bolts.
The state of modern preaching is frankly quite sorry. I’ve made that statement more than once in private conversation only to hear the reply, “Yes…ours is not the day of great preaching.” Such a reply misses the point; I agree that our day is not a day of great preaching. I would go further, however, and say that ours is not a day of even mediocre preaching.
The question that confronts me on a regular basis is “How did this happen?” I think part of the answer is a disdain for older, proven methods of sermon preparation, and a desire to do something new or different. Another part of the puzzle is the changing culture that doesn’t understand the why of preaching – that is, why this distinct method of conveying information.
The structure of 9:4-5 is quite tantalizing; it lures you to see intentional patters, but in places it avoids our desire for total symmetry. The first characteristic of Paul’s kinsmen is that they are “Israelites” (Ἰσραηλῖται). It seems that this designation is meant to resonate with all of the further privileges listed, and acts as something of a summary of the rest. I say this first because it stands at the head of the list of privileges, and second, because all of the rest are grammatically subordinate to it. The significance of this title “Israelite” is unfolded for Paul in three relative clauses (ὧν…ὧν…ἐξ ὧν) which in each case have “Israelite” (Ἰσραηλῖται) as the antecedent. Continue reading