How to (Mis)Interpret Prophecy

The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem, David Roberts (1796–1864)

There’s no shortage of advice on how to interpret the Bible. One maxim that I’ve already mentioned advises, “When the plain sense makes sense, seek no other sense.” I’ve heard it quoted when it comes to biblical prophecy—encouraging people to interpret literally, at face value. Although that sounds like good advice, some New Testament writers didn’t get the memo. [Read more…]

Preaching? Drain the Liquid Before You Give It to Others

Photo by Elevate on Unsplash

By Jeffrey Arthurs, adapted from Preaching Points: 55 Tips for Improving Your Pulpit Ministry.

In an issue of Leadership journal, Lee Eclov tells the story of a researcher named Hillary Koprowski, who was a leader in the search for the polio vaccine in the 1940s. Koprowski and his team had done animal tests successfully, and the next step involved a powerful but unwritten rule of scientific research: Before testing an oral vaccine on other humans, the researcher must try it himself. 

So late one winter afternoon in 1948, he and his assistant whipped up a polio cocktail and the two men drank from small glass beakers. They tilted their heads back and drained the liquid fully. They agreed it tasted like cod-liver oil. The assistant said, “Have another?”

“Better not,” Koprowski said, “I’m driving.”

Lee Eclov says that every preacher has to take the same gutsy step. We have no right to give other people our “holy vaccine” until we’ve drained the liquid ourselves. And sometimes it does taste like cod-liver oil.

As preachers we must drain the liquid. Preach to yourself before you preach to others. Ask yourself, “Am I living the life I’m recommending to others?” “Authenticity” is one of the god-terms of our culture—and rightly so. Of the members of the old rhetorical trio of ethos, pathos, and logos, Aristotle said that ethos is number one. Your character, trustworthiness, experience, and sincerity—your ethos—are the most persuasive tools you possess. 

So this week and every week when you’re doing your sermon preparation, remember to drain the liquid yourself.

***

This post is adapted from “Drain the liquid” by Jeffrey Arthurs in Preaching Points: 55 Tips for Improving Your Pulpit Ministry, edited by Scott M. Gibson (Lexham Press, 2016).

 

5 Highlights from the Logos Monthly Sale

From the church fathers to messianic literature, save up to 42% on books and courses spanning theology, Bible study, ministry, and more

Here are five highlights to pay special attention to. 

SCM Studies in Biblical Theology Series (19 vols.)

Get a better grip on key theological themes found throughout the Bible, and a new appreciation of the Ten Commandments. You’ll better understand the development of various doctrines, concepts, and terminology across the Old and New Testaments, investigate the characteristics of worship in the early Church, delve into detailed word studies, and investigate Christological titles used by Paul. 

Find it in the monthly sale.

Crossway Christian Living Collection (14 vols.)

Navigate difficult issues like loneliness and trouble. Delve deep into the ultimate reasons for prayer and praying Scripture. Train your conscience and delight in God through earthly blessings. Leave behind behavior modification and meditate daily on the gospel. This collection features authors like Paul David Tripp, Phil Ryken, Jeff Vanderstelt, Don Whitney, Greg Gilbert and others.

Find it in the monthly sale.

Popular Patristics Series, Part 5 (10 vols.)

In this collection, recognized Patristic scholars provide short, comprehensive, clear introductions to various topics. Texts include classics of Christian literature, thematic volumes, homily collections, letters, spiritual guidance, and poetical works from a wide variety of geographical contexts and historical backgrounds. The purpose of the series is to mine the riches of the early church and to make these invaluable writings available to all.

Find it in the monthly sale.

Ariel Ministries Messianic Collection (11 vols.)

This collection features many works from the renowned Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum, widely-regarded as one of the foremost Bible scholars of his time, and who emphasized the Jewish character of the Scriptures. One Logos customer writes:

“Great resource. Worth every penny. I have enjoyed Dr. Fruchtenbaum’s work for years. Now having them in Logos makes the resources so much easier to use and reference. For me, five stars doesn’t go high enough.” 

Find it in the monthly sale.

Lexham Press Romans Bundle (7 vols.)

Get all the resources you need to study and master Romans. Explore the text and discover new insights with rich commentaries and in-depth studies. This 7-volume bundle contains a volume from the Osborne New Testament Commentaries, a Lexham Bible Guide, a High Definition Commentary, and more.

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Marxism and Biblical Theology Aren’t Synonyms

I’m a biblical scholar by training, but what most people don’t realize is that I’m also a political junkie. My undergraduate degree is actually in History and Political Science. Since one of my graduate degrees is in history (albeit ancient history), I was able to teach western civilization at the college level to help support myself through graduate school. I’ve also taught US History at a local community college. But while my interest in political discourse is high, I also have to confess to being an American political atheist—I don’t put my faith in any political party. The answer to the nation’s problems—to those plaguing a beleaguered world—is the kingdom of God, not a kingdom made by human hands, even American ones. [Read more…]

6 Recent Archaeological Discoveries That Support the Bible

Photo credit: Eliyahu Yanai, City of David

Each time an artifact related to the biblical narrative is unearthed in Israel or the surrounding lands of the Bible it becomes a witness to the perfection of God’s Word.  [Read more…]

Why Biblical Archaeology Makes Faith Less ‘Blind’

Biblical archaeology is archaeology focused on the ancient Near East. It includes places like modern-day Israel, Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Egypt, Iraq, and Iran from 1,400 BC through the first century AD. 

And though students of the Bible often overlook archaeology, it’s one of our most significant partners in Bible study—a witness to the events, culture, and people in the Bible’s stories.  [Read more…]

Pastor, Your Empathy Is Not Enough (and That’s Good)

By Harold Senkbeil, adapted from The Care of Souls: Cultivating a Pastor’s Heart

Over the years I’ve developed, in good Lutheran fashion, ten theses on spiritual cure, the care of souls.  [Read more…]

Everything in the Bible Isn’t about Jesus

The Tower of Babel by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, c. 1563

If you’ve been a Christian for very long or were raised in a Christian church, chances are that you’ve heard that the Bible is really all about Jesus. That cliché has some truth to it, but it’s misleading. [Read more…]

3 Prayers for Independence Day

These prayers for Independence Day are taken from the Book of Common Prayer.

Independence Day (July 4)

Lord God Almighty, in whose Name the founders of this country won liberty for themselves and for us, and lit the torch of freedom for nations then unborn: Grant, we beseech thee, that we and all the people of this land may have grace to maintain our liberties in righteousness and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. [Read more…]

Sermon Preparation Is 20 Hours of Prayer

sermon preparation blog post

An excerpt on sermon preparation and prayer by Matthew Kim, adapted from Preaching Points: 55 Tips for Improving Your Pulpit Ministry.

It’s something that we all know in our minds. We’ve considered it. But it’s often difficult to put into practice. What am I talking about? 

Pastor R. Kent Hughes, who pastored College Church in Wheaton, IL, for some twenty-seven years, once had this to say about preaching: “Sermon preparation is twenty hours of prayer.” 

Twenty hours? What does he mean? How can we pray for twenty hours when we have so many things to do in ministry?

What Hughes means is that prayer is extremely valuable in sermon preparation. Prayer is indispensable. We need to pray, because we’re engaged in a spiritual battle. The moment we walk up into the pulpit we recognize that what we are doing is not something that just any communicator does. We’re preaching God’s Word. And the enemy doesn’t want us to. The enemy doesn’t want us to have power. He doesn’t want us to display God’s power through our sermon.

What we’re doing is bathing our sermon in prayer. How do we do that?

It begins when we select a text. I know that there are moments in pastoral ministry where I just thought, What does the church need to hear? And so I would just simply go to a text or look for a text. But to have this attitude of sermon preparation being twenty hours of prayer means that from the moment I think about a given sermon, I’m given to prayer. I’m seeking God’s guidance. I ask, “God, what do you want me to learn from this particular passage? Which passage should I preach on?” 

As we’re going through the rigors of exegesis and determining what the author is talking about, I’m constantly prayerful. What does it mean to pray in such a way that we’re asking the Holy Spirit to guide us to understand the authorial intent of the passage? What does this mean for the people back in Bible times, and what does it mean for us today? Even in outlining or writing our manuscript, we’re constantly soaking our sermon in prayer. We’re praying through what it means to speak to people in such a way that God’s Word comes alive in their midst.

One of the ways we can do this practically speaking is praying through the church directory. Pray about your congregation’s needs and struggles. What is that family going through at this moment? What does it look like for this person who has lost her job to understand this particular passage? And as we do so, we slow down our preparation. We don’t just rush through it to get the sermon finished. We don’t just go through the exercise of exegesis. But we are prayerful about each moment of the sermon preparation process.

A few years ago I was standing on the curb. I remember it vividly. I was a candidate for a pastoral position at a church. One of the pastors on the church staff looked at me. But he didn’t just look at me. He gave me one of those up-and-down glances which made me feel uncomfortable. He inquired, “Matt, so how many hours do you pray each day?” I thought to myself, Hours? I think in minutes. But what he was really getting at is, “Do you have a deep and profound relationship with the Lord?” D. L. Moody was known to say, “He who kneels the most, stands the best.” That’s what R. Kent Hughes may have in view when he wisely encourages: Sermon preparation is twenty hours of prayer.

This post is adapted from “Sermon preparation is twenty hours of prayer,” by Matthew Kim in Preaching Points: 55 Tips for Improving Your Pulpit Ministry, edited by Scott M. Gibson (Lexham Press, 2016).