Sunday, July 23, 2006
(Handout – Study Notes)
How to Illustrate, Apply, and Deliver God’s Timeless Truth to Your People
· Two words summarize everything preachers do: exegesis and exposition.
· It is impossible to discuss expository preaching without its close neighbor, exegesis. In fact, the terms “exegetical” and “expository” are inextricably interwoven.
· To “exegete” is to draw out from a text all the truth that is in it. The sole source of exegesis is the Scripture itself.
· To “exposit” is to expose, to make visible, to make known-- that is, to show something for what it really is. It suggests shedding light on a subject.
· Expository preaching begins with exegesis and ends with exposition.
· Both are crucial; without exegesis, a sermon is merely human oratory; without exposition, the message will be only a technical collection of grammatical and historical details.
· Nolan Howington illustrates the relationship between exegesis and exposition this way: “The exegete is like a diver bringing up pearls from the ocean bed; an expositor is like the jeweler who arrays them in orderly fashion and in proper relation to each other.” (Rediscovering Expository Preaching, p.17)
I. Exegesis – studying the passage
Exegesis is never an end in itself. Its purposes are never fully realized until it begins to take into account the problems of transferring what has been learned from the text over to the waiting Church. To put it more bluntly, exegesis must come to terms with the audience as well as with what the author meant by the words he used.
Walter C. Kaiser
A careful exegesis of the passage will provide you with all the key components of a solidly biblical expository message:
Historical, Grammatical Detail
The Body of the Message
II. Exposition – creating an expository message
· Exegesis is a more a science with fixed laws and methods; creating an expository message from that exegesis is more an art.
A. Writing the proposition
B. Creating a preaching outline
C. Building the Body of the Message
· Each point of the outline will usually include the following:
1. Exegesis—“this is what it says”
a. Contextual analysis (e.g., 1 Cor. 12:4-7 à Context of spiritual gifts)
b. Syntactical analysis
The way in which words are put together so as to form phrases, clauses, and sentences will aid us in discovering the author's pattern of meaning….Thus syntactical analysis systematically operates from three basic building blocks: (1) the concept, (2) the proposition, and (3) the paragraph. It is through the precise way in which these three units are organized and arranged that the exegete receives all the data he needs to begin the journey of moving from the text to the destination of using that text in a teaching or preaching situation.
Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.
c. Verbal analysis (e.g., 1 Cor. 12:4-7 - varieties; gift; ministries; effects)
Words and idioms are the most basic of all the linguistic building-blocks of meaning. Through the accumulation of words and idioms a writer expresses the distinctive thought he has in mind….words, like people, are known by the company they keep. It is essential that we always be aware of the surrounding words (i.e., the company) as they were intended by the author who wrote them. He is the final court of appeal as to the use of his own words when it comes to determining meaning.
Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.
d. Historical analysis
The historical sense is that sense which is demanded by a careful consideration of the time and circumstances in which the author wrote. It is the specific meaning which an author's words require when the historical context and background are taken into account.
Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.
e. Theological analysis
2. Explanation –“this is what it means”
3. Argumentation—“this is why you should believe it”
· The primary purpose of argumentation is to convince the listener that your interpretation of the passage conforms to the rest of Scripture and should be embraced as the truth. The expositor’s tools to successfully make that argument are:
a. Primary tools
· Parallel passages of Scripture à(e.g., 1 Cor. 12:4-7; 1 Peter 4:10-11)
· Supporting passages of Scripture (the analogy of faith)
· The reformers constantly proclaimed that “Scripture interprets Scripture.”
b. Secondary tools
· Systematic Theologies
· Church History
· Quotations from well-known expositors
4. Illustration—“this is what it looks like”
A building without windows would be a prison rather than a house, for it would be quite dark, and no one would care to take it upon lease; and, in the same way, a discourse without a parable is prosy and dull, and involves a grievous weariness of the flesh. . . . Our congregations hear us with pleasure when we give them a fair measure of imagery: when an anecdote is being told they rest, take breath, and give play to their imaginations, and thus prepare themselves for the sterner work which lies before them in listening to our profounder expositions.
The necessity of illuminating the sermon properly is found in the mental attitude of the people. Whether we like it or not, most of us preach to the "moving picture mind." It is the mind accustomed to images, pictures, scenes, rapidly moving. It certainly is not accustomed to deep thinking or long, sustained argument. Current magazines, bill boards, novels, drama, rapid transit, all add to this popular method of visual thinking. We as ministers may not approve of the daily fare of the people; we may regret their inability to pursue abstract logic; we may wish them to prefer theoretical reasoning. But whatever our wishes, we must recognize that they regard thinking which is not imaginary and concrete as dull and uninteresting.
a. The misuse of illustrations
· To manipulate the emotions of the hearer
· To shock the hearer
· To relate an interesting story (if it doesn’t fit the point you are trying to illustrate); cartoon: “Lord, please give me a message to go with this wonderful illustration!”
· To pad a poorly prepared message
· Merely to get a laugh
b. The legitimate use of illustrations
Illustrate—comes from a Latin word meaning “to let the light in”; every illustration should serve as a window to let additional light in on the truth.
· Clarify the truth
· Humanize the truth
· Emphasize the truth
Good illustrations are far more easily remembered than bright sayings and trains of argument. It is a not uncommon experience with preachers to find that their finest sentences and most profound observations easily slip the memory, while some apparently trivial anecdote or illustration remains. If these can be made so apt as necessarily to recall the argument or train of thought, so much the better.
John A. Broadus
c. The primary types of illustrations
· Narrative (parables, allegory, human interest, hypothetical)
· Quotations (poems, hymns, testimony, Scripture, commentators)
d. The sources of illustrations
· The Scripture Itself—especially the passage you are preaching; e.g., James 1:13-18 – alludes to fishing, pregnancy, childbirth, and astronomy.
· Bible’s cross references
· Word searches
· The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
· Torrey’s Topical Textbook
· General sources
· Literature and Art
· Personal Experience
· Specific sources
· News magazines and newspapers
· Internet searches
· Reader’s Digest
· National Geographic, encyclopedias, etc.
e. The pitfalls of illustrations
· Including too many
Illustrate, by all means, but do not let the sermon be all illustrations, or it will be only suitable for an assembly of simpletons. A volume is all the better for engravings, but a scrap-book which is all woodcuts is usually intended for the use of little children. Our house should be built up with the substantial masonry of doctrine, upon the deep foundation of inspiration; its pillars should be of solid Scriptural argument, and every stone of truth should be carefully laid in its place; and then the windows should be ranged in due order, "three rows" if we will: "light against light," like the house of the forest of Lebanon. But a house is not erected for the sake of windows, nor may a sermon be arranged with the view of fitting in a favourite apologue. A window is merely a convenience subordinate to the entire design, and so is the best illustration.
· Including inaccurate facts
· Announcing that an illustration is coming (rather than simply beginning the illustration)
5. Application—“this is what you should do with it”
Preaching is essentially a personal encounter, in which the preacher's will is making a claim through the truth upon the will of the hearer. If there is no summons, there is no sermon.
John A. Broadus
· God intends that the teaching of His Word be applied (Rom. 4:23-24; Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 9:9-10; 10:6, 11)
a. The definition of application (from John Broadus)
· Focusing the claims of truth – application proper, in which one shows the hearer how the truths of the sermon apply to him.
· Suggesting ways and means – conclusion of message on Ps. 119; conclusion of 1 Cor. 12; - practical suggestions concerning the best mode and means of performing the duty urged.
· Persuading to vital response – persuasion in the sense of moral and spiritual appeal for right response.
b. The guiding principles of application
1. Should flow from authorial intent
· The most powerful application of any passage is always the one the Holy Spirit intended when He inspired that passage. Every expositor should use all the exegetical tools at his disposal to strive to discern exactly how the Spirit and the human writer intended the first readers to apply that passage.
2. Should be suited to the audience
3. Should be placed in the message where best suited to text:
· In the Conclusion
c. Sources for application
1. Clear application in the text itself
2. Your own spiritual experiences (cf. 1 Cor. 10:13)
3. Observation of your people
4. Observation of the culture
5. Commentaries and other resources
D. Adding an Introduction and Conclusion
1. The Introduction (see attached samples in Appendix Three)
· Must be designed to accomplish three things:
· Grab the hearer’s attention and secure their interest—but avoid sensationalism
· Create a need; why should I listen to you?
· Introduces the theme of the passage and the body of the sermon
· Makes one dominant impression through a narrowing focus upon a single theme.
· If a series, the introduction should make the connection with previous messages.
· Can draw from: situations and experiences of life, historical setting, biography, news item, quotation, reference from literature, geography, culture, customs, background material, anecdote, humorous incident, striking statement.
· Note the list of possible kinds of introductions in Rediscovery Expository Preaching
· Is important to make a smooth transition to the proposition…and the proposition needs to be stated clearly.
· Ends with the proposition and the transition sentence.
· Right length is important – as brief as possible…as long as necessary.
· In most cases, it is best to write out introduction.
2. The Conclusion (see attached samples in Appendix Four)
· Preachers rarely neglect to prepare an introduction to the sermon, but they often neglect to prepare a conclusion.
· But the conclusion is unquestionably as important as the introduction.
· A carefully crafted conclusion allows the sermon to come to an appropriate ending, rather than a stop.
· Should be a natural termination to the message in style and content.
· Review of the major point or theme of the text, and/or the outline. (Main divisions)
· The application of the truth to the listeners. This should be unmistakably personal in its aim…should aim at the will; it should compel the hearer to respond in an appropriate manner to the message; encourage obedience and rebuke disobedience; in other words, the conclusion answers the “so what?”
· Miscellaneous considerations:
· Should be prepared carefully and written out.
· Should not be announced
· Best not to add much new material.
· Should incorporate an appeal to unbelievers to repent.
· Could conclude with an illustration, question, quotation, specific instructions, list of practical propositions to employ or guidelines to follow, a hymn or poem, or the recitation of some portion of the text itself.
E. Formatting your Pulpit Notes
· The format of the notes you take into the pulpit will depend on your personal preferences. Here are some of the issues you should consider.
· Computer-generated; there are numerous advantages to preparing and archiving your messages on computer:
· Easily edited for format or content
· Easily blocked and copied to different message
· Easily transportable (every sermon you have preached can be burned on a single CD, carried with you, and printed for immediate use from almost any computer)
· Easy to backup for redundancy (the expositor’s sermon file represents his most valuable possession; store CD or zip drive copies of your messages at two or more separate locations in case of fire, flood, theft, etc.)
b. Detailed outline (preferred)
c. Simple outline
d. Extemporaneous (see Expository Preaching without Notes)
3. Paper Size (common: 8 ½” x 11”; 6" x 9 ½)
· Create your own key so that at a glance you can quickly identify the following in your notes:
· Main points
· Key words or points
· Next PowerPoint slide
F. Preparing your mind and heart
· If possible, complete your message by Friday; put it away until Saturday night.
· Saturday night
· Pray through the passage.
· Mark your preaching notes.
· Look up any references outside of your passage, familiarizing yourself with their context.
· Get to bed.
· Sunday morning
· Review your notes.
· Memorize the basic flow.
· Just before preaching:
· Follow a pre-pulpit ritual; think & pray through 1 Peter 4:11; 1 Cor. 2:1-2.
· Review briefly the introduction of the message.
· In Lectures on Preaching, Phillips Brooks defined preaching as the communication of divine truth through human personality.
· Martin Lloyd-Jones defined preaching as “a proclamation of the truth of God as mediated through the preacher.”
· Both of those excellent definitions help shape several guiding principles of an effective delivery.
1. Primary Principles of Delivery
a. In the disciplined process of exegesis, the preacher arrives at the truth; the most important component in delivery is clarity–communicating the truth in a way it can be understood. How can that be accomplished?
· A single obvious theme that is stressed and repeated
· A simple outline that clearly follows the passage
· Brief transitional statements that review previous major points and signal a charge to the listener
· Words that are clear and grammar that is easy to follow
b. The style of communication should simply be an enlargement of your normal communication – or in other words, it should be natural. But every component (such as volume, intensity, facial expressions, and gestures) must be enlarged so that the person sitting at the back row gets the message.
“Speaking to a congregation from the pulpit should be no different than speaking with them individually in the pastor’s office” (MacArthur in Rediscovering Expository Preaching).
“Delivery should be the spontaneous product of the speaker’s peculiar personality, as acted on by the subject which now fills his mind and heart…. Delivery does not consist merely, or even chiefly, in vocalization and gesticulation, but it implies that one is possessed with the subject, that he is completely in sympathy with it and fully alive to its importance, that he is not repeating remembered words but setting free the thoughts shut up in his mind. Even acting is good only in proportion to the actor’s identification with the person represented – he must really think and really feel what he is saying. The speaker is not undertaking to represent another person, to appropriate another’s thoughts and feelings, but aims simply to be himself, to speak what his own mind has produced.” (Broadus in On the Preparation and Delivery of Sermons)
“Let every man, called of God to preach the Word, be as his Maker has fashioned him. . . . The good and the evil in men of eminence are both of them mischievous when they become objects of servile imitation; the good when slavishly copied is exaggerated into formality, and the evil becomes wholly intolerable. If each teacher of others went himself to the school of our one only Master, a thousand errors might be avoided.” (Spurgeon in Spurgeon Autobiography Volume 1:The Early Years)
c. If a preacher expects his congregation to believe his message, it must be delivered with passion.
“G. Campbell Morgan argues that passion is an essential ingredient for an effective delivery. In explaining what he means by “passion,” he recalls a discussion the English actor Macready had with a well-known pastor. The pastor was trying to understand why crowds flocked to fictional plays but few came to hear him preach God’s changeless truth. Macready responded, “This is quite simple. . . . I present my fiction as though it were truth, you present your truth as though it were fiction…I am not arguing for mere excitement. Painted fire never burns, and an imitated enthusiasm is the most empty thing that can possibly exist in a preacher. Given the preacher with a message . . . , I cannot understand that man not being swept sometimes right out of himself by the fire and the force and the fervency of his work” (MacArthur in Rediscovering Expository Preaching).
· Passion is the natural result of being truly consumed with the truth you are preaching and a controlling desire to get that truth across to others.
· “From the beginning of the sermon to its end, the all engrossing force of the text and the God who speaks through that text must dominate our whole being. With the burning power of that truth on our heart and lips, every thought, emotion, and act of the will must be so captured by that truth that it springs forth with excitement, joy, sincerity, and reality as an evident token that God’s Spirit is in that word. Away with all the mediocre, lifeless, boring, and lackluster orations offered as pitiful substitutes for the powerful Word of the living Lord. If that Word from God does not thrill the proclaimer and fill [him] . . . with an intense desire to glorify God and do His will, how shall we ever expect it to have any greater effect on our hearers” (Walter Kaiser in Toward an Exegetical Theology)?
· “Preaching is theology coming through a man who is on fire. A true understanding and experience of the Truth must lead to this. I say again that a man who can speak about these things dispassionately has no right whatsoever to be in a pulpit; and should never be allowed to enter one” (Lloyd-Jones in Preaching and Preachers).
d. A compelling messenger of the truth always speaks with authority. (Matt. 7:29). In fact, this is something Peter demands of anyone with a teaching gift (1 Peter 4:11). How do we demonstrate authority?
· A godly character that complements our message.
· A message that clearly and obviously reflects the authorial intent (1 Tim. 4:16).
· The use of the second-person “you” instead of “we.”
· The use of other passages to illustrate and support the preaching text.
2. The Specific Components of Delivery
a. Voice à natural variety in pitch, volume, and intensity
b. Gestures à natural, enlarged, and limited
c. Eye Contact à a balanced view of the whole audience, not necessarily focusing on individuals.
d. Appearance à clean, neat, appropriate to the setting, and un-distracting
3. An Improvement Strategy of Delivery
· Realize that we seldom perceive ourselves accurately. So we may have a completely different impression of our delivery than our congregation. That makes it crucial that we periodically assess the true condition or our delivery. How can we accomplish this?
a. An audio assessment – several times a year, listen to an audio copy of one of your messages.
b. A video assessment – occasionally record and review a video copy of one of your messages to assess the entire package.
c. As you listen and view, assess the following areas:
· Could you easily discern the theme?
· Was your proposition clear and recognizable?
· How easily could your listeners identify your main and subordinate divisions?
· Is your preaching style a natural enlargement of your conversational style?
· Does your delivery reflect passion and energy?
· Using the words “excellent,” “good,” “fair,” and “poor,” how would you rate:
1. Your posture?
2. Your gestures?
3. Your facial expressions?
4. The intensity of your voice?
5. The correctness of your grammar?
6. The variety of vocal pitch?
7. The rate of speech?
8. Appropriate, informed, but understandable word choice?
· What one charge would make the greatest improvement in your preaching?
· All work on improving delivery should be done between Sundays. Once you enter the pulpit, everything but the message must be forgotten. Martyn Lloyd-Jones provides a wonderful summary of the preacher’s delivery:
“Be natural; forget yourself; be so absorbed in what you are doing and in the realization of the presence of God, and in the glory and the greatness of the Truth that you are preaching…that you forget yourself completely….Self is the greatest enemy of the preacher, more so than in the case of any other man in society. And the only way to deal with self is to be so taken up with, and so enraptured by, the glory of what you are doing, that you forget yourself altogether.” (Lloyd-Jones in Preaching and Preachers)
H. Guarding your heart after the message
1. Once you have given your message, trust the Holy Spirit to do His work (cf. Is. 55:11 – “My word will not return to me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”)
2. Don’t mistake your feelings about the message for the message’s effectiveness; when you finish preaching, you will conclude that it was either good, ok, or bad; but often, our feelings are dead wrong; the “great message” seems to have little or no effect; the one we thought was awful produces immediate spiritual fruit.
3. Learn from your critics.
4. Don’t be lifted up with pride because of the praise of your hearers
· What gifts or abilities do we have that haven’t been given to us for the good of the Body?
· The evaluation of our message that should matter most is God’s. We can fool our listeners if we didn’t really put in the adequate amount of work—but God knows.
· If you know you’ve done the best you can, with the gifts God has given you, to understand the text and to present the truth with clarity and passion, then be satisfied.
· But even our own evaluation doesn’t really matter (cf. 1 Cor 4:1-5).
· John Chrysostom (347-407), the most significant expositor of the early centuries of the church, once said: “You praise what I have said, and receive my exhortation with tumults of applause; but show your approbation by obedience; that is the only praise I seek” (in Rediscovering Expository Preaching).
“It is surprising how stoutly and stubbornly the churches insist upon preachers knowing how to preach. They will forgive almost everything else, but they will not forgive inability to preach. No man who knows how to preach with grace and power need stand idle in the marketplace a single hour. The churches are scouring the country in search of such a man, and he cannot escape if he would.”
“Preach the Word” (2 Timothy 4:1).
“Whoever speaks, let him speak, as it were, the utterances of God” (1 Peter 4:11).
Added to Bible Bulletin Board's "Shepherd's Conference Collection" by:
Reviewing the Process
1. Identify the passage.
2. Survey the context.
3. Identify the theme.
4. Analyze the syntax (block diagram).
5. Survey the historical context.
6. Analyze the key words.
7. Establish the theological context.
8. Consult the commentaries.
9. Meditate on the passage.
B. Expository Message
1. Write the proposition.
2. Craft the expository outline.
3. Fill out the body of the message.
4. Create a logical flow with transitions.
5. Write the introduction and conclusion.
6. Format your pulpit notes.
7. Follow a pre-pulpit ritual.
8. Deliver the exposition with clarity and passion.
A. On Exegesis
· Beekman, John Callow. Translating the Word of God. Zondervan, 1974.
· Fee, Gordon D. New Testament Exegesis. John Knox Press, 1993.
· Kaiser, Walter C., Jr. Toward an Exegetical Theology. Baker, 1981.
B. On Preaching
· Braga, James. How to Prepare Bible Messages. Multnomah, 1969.
· Broadus, John A. On the Preparation and Delivery of Sermons. Rev. ed. Reprint, Harper & Row, 1979.
· Dabney, R.L. Evangelical Eloquence. Reprint, Banner of Truth Trust, 1999.
· Larson, David L. The Anatomy of Preaching. Baker, 1989.
· Lloyd-Jones, D. Martyn. Preaching and Preachers. Zondervan, 1972.
· Logan, Samuel T., Jr. ed. The Preacher and Preaching. Presbyterian and Reformed, 1986.
· MacArthur, John, Jr. Rediscovering Expository Preaching. Word Publishing, 1992.
· Morgan, G. Campbell. Preaching. Reprint, Baker, 1974.
· Piper, John. The Supremacy of God in Preaching. Baker, 1990.
· Stott, John R. W. Between Two Worlds. Eerdmans, 1982.
· Various Authors. Feed My Sheep. Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 2002.
C. On a Library
· Badke, William B. The Survivor's Guide to Library Research. Zondervan, 1990.
· Barber, Cyril J. The Minister's Library. Moody, 1985. 2 volumes plus supplements.
· Barker, Kenneth L., Bruce K. Waltke, Roy B. Zuck. Bibliography for Old Testament Exegesis and Exposition. Dallas Theological Seminary, 1979.
· Bollier, John A. The Literature of Theology: A Guide for Students and Pastors. Westminster, 1979.
· Carson, D. A. New Testament Commentary Survey. Baker, 1986.
· Childs, Brevard S. Old Testament Books for Pastor and Teacher. Westminster, 1977.
· Johnston, William M. Recent Reference Books in Religion. IVP, 1996.
· Kiehl, Erich H. Building Your Biblical Studies Library. Concordia, 1988.
· Martin, Ralph P. New Testament Books for Pastor and Teacher. Westminster, 1984.
· Rosscup, James E. Commentaries for Biblical Expositors. Grace Books International, 1983.
· Spurgeon, Charles H. Commenting and Commentaries. Banner of Truth, 1969.
· Wiersbe, Warren W. A Basic Library for Bible Students. Baker, 1981.
The Master's Seminary website includes a very helpful list of the most important 750 books a pastor should purchase for his library [www.tms.edu].
Adrian Rodgers “How to Smile at Death”
(2 minutes 52 seconds)
There is a valley called the valley of the shadow of death. If you were to go there you could seek it out. It starts up between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, up about 2,700 feet above sea level. And there is a little spring that comes out of the hillside there. And it starts a little rivulet. And sometimes it’s full of water and the water cascades down. Sometimes there’s only a trickle that goes through it. But over the centuries it has cut a ravine, a chasm, if you will, a little Grand Canyon, in those Judean hills. It starts up there and it flows down, down, down, down, down 1300 feet below sea level to the Dead Sea. This ravine, this canyon, is called the valley of the shadow of death because it is so narrow that at the bottom in some places it’s only about 12 feet wide. Even in high noon, it’s always full of shadows. And there are caves there, and shadowy places there.
And in Bible times there were bears there, and hyenas there, and leopards there, and there were robbers, and there were steep places where sheep might fall and it was a frightening place with grotesque shadows on the canyon walls. And the shepherds had named it the valley of the shadow of death.
It was a very useful canyon, a very useful valley because in the winter time when there was not much grass the shepherds would take the sheep down to Jericho and there the sheep would winter at Jericho and feed there in the lush grass that would grow even in winter time. And then, when the Spring would come, and the Judean hills would grow bright with that bright color of green and the flowers would come out and dot the hillside, the shepherds would lead the sheep through that valley to greener pastures in the highlands.
And that surely is what David had in mind when David wrote this beautiful Psalm because David himself, as a shepherd, doubtless had many times led his sheep through that valley—the valley of the shadow of death. And David said, “The Lord is to me what I have been to my sheep.” The Lord is my Shepherd and yea though I walk through the shadow of the valley of death, I will fear no evil. For Thou are with me. Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me. David had learned to smile at death. And I want you to learn to smile at death. And I want to give you three principles that will help you to do that.
Thomas Eliff “Living with God-Given Goals”
(8 minutes 42 seconds)
One of the most frustrating experiences of life is to sense that you are busy, that you are investing your life, your energy, your resources, your time, your abilities and yet you are not certain that the direction of your energy, the focus of your talents, is accomplishing what it ought to be and what it could be accomplishing. I believe there are probably many people here this morning who believe that, in some sense, your life is being wasted on the world. You sense that you are capable of more, you know more, you believe that God wants to use you more effectively then you are being used and yet you are not sure just which way you ought to turn. It’s frustrating isn’t it, to live a life and not be certain that you are living it out according to the purpose God has planned for you?
Now, if we were to go to the major cities across this nation today and walk into most of the convention centers and the conference halls, we would find that, either in the larger arenas or in some conference hall off to the side, someone would be speaking about how to set goals, how to manage your life, how to be a success. Success and success motivation is the hot topic of the 90’s. People want to know that they are using their lives to accomplish all that they could be using it for, that they are getting the most for their money, and for their time, and for their ability. And I want to say to you unequivocally this morning that the only way you will ever get out of your life all that you could get out of your life, the only way you can ever experience all that you can experience and enjoy all that you are capable of enjoying and to have the sense of fulfillment that you ought to have, the only way you can do that is to live your life according to God-given goals.
Now here is what you will discover in most of those seminars. You’ll be encouraged to sit down and write out on piece of paper, either that you brought or one that they provide for you, what you want to get out of life. And so you think about the things that you life, you think about the things you would like to do, the things you would like to possess. You think about your personality, your dreams, your wishes, your desires, your ambitions. And out there at the end you realize this is the way I would like to live, this is the way I would like to retire perhaps, these are the resources I would like to enjoy, this is what I would like to be driving, this is how I would like to be living, and this is how I would like to be positioned. And so you begin to write down on that piece of paper, as soon as you can get it crystallized in your mind, the things you want for your life. Because, after all, who knows you better than yourself?
Well, the answer to that is this. God knows you better than you know yourself. God knows you better than you know yourself. He knows exactly what you are capable of doing. He knows what is the maximum in your life that you could enjoy. And He knows how you can receive it. He knows the life you ought to live in order to get it. And so if you want to enjoy life to its fullest, if you want to live in the Canaan, so to speak—the promised land of the Christian experience, you’re going to have to live your life according to God-given goals.
Now the sad thing is this—there are probably many men and women here this morning who do not have any goals anyway. Oh you have some wishes, some dreams, some desires but you don’t really have any goals that are fixed in your mind. You’re like an arrow that has just been shot and is straying aimlessly and wherever it hits is just where it hits because you aimed at nothing in particular and because of that you’ll hit, nothing in particular. There is no plumb line dropped down within your heart against which you measure all of the choices you make everyday. So everything is open to you. And you may spend an entire week giving yourself, your energy, your talents only to discover next week that that’s not what you want to do anyway. You may go to school, young people, an entire semester and have taken all these courses only to wake up and discover that, well, that’s not really where you’re headed anyway, that that was a waste of time. Because after all, anything is possible since you’re going no place in particular with your life. And let me say, by the way, to those of you who are husbands here this morning, nothing is so frustrating to a wife as to be married to a man who has no keen, clear-cut sense of direction in his life. Just as some men come home, nothing on their minds, no plans, just open to anything, and they just sit there and are open to any suggestion, any program, any idea, any food—let me just tell you something, that kind of a picture describes the way many men live, not just an evening but they live weeks, and months, and years of their life. And they get out there to the end of life and they have accomplished nothing in particular, they have left no definite footprint in the sands of history.
And what I would like to talk to you about in these services as we deal with Joshua 14 is how to live with God-given goals. And just to get this set in your mind for these next few moments, let me ask you this question. What are some specific goals you already know God has set for you? Have you thought about them? Have you ever written them down? Have you ever underlined them in the Scripture? Have you ever found a verse and written your name beside it and said, “That’s a goal I have for my family” or “That’s a goal I have for my life” or “That’s a goal I have for my future?” Have you specifically written down, crystallized in your mind, at least have written across your heart the specific goals that God has for your life? Did you know that God has specific plans for your life? The Scriptures says, “I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord your God. Thoughts of good and not of evil, to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a hope and a future.” God says, “I have good thoughts toward you.” God says, “I want to give you success.” God says, “I want to give you a hope.” God says, “I want you to see your future.” Have you ever thought about God’s goals for your life?
There is a joy that come to life, there is hope that springs in your heart, there is a patience that will mark your life—a persistence and a perseverance—there is an energy and an excitement which will characterize your life when you live by God-given goals. And it will only come in that fashion. Human goals, your goals and the goals that your friends set for you, will never allow you to experience all that I am talking about.
How can you live by God-given goals? I’d like, this morning, for us to look at one example of a man who lived by God-given goals. And what I’d like to do, as we examine the 14th chapter of Joshua, is to first of all define the nature of God-given goals, and then to describe the character of a man who lives by God-given goals, and then finally to look at the consequences of God-given goals—what happens in your heart when you live by God-given goals.
John MacArthur “The Marks of a Man of God”
(4 minutes 43 seconds)
I would not presume that I am here for any other than a divine mandate and appointment from God. Looking down the list and finding myself the only non-Baptist, this has to be God’s purpose and plan. And I am very grateful for the privilege of sharing this pulpit.
When I was a young boy and first felt the call the preach, my dad said to me, “I want you to be a man of God, Johnny. I want you to be a man of God.” That desire of my dad for me has been my own all consuming desire. When young men contemplating seminary training come to me and ask me about The Master’s Seminary, which is our seminary, and they say “What is it that is the special focus of The Master’s Seminary?” my response is always the same. “We are totally committed to producing a man of God.”
I remember having breakfast one time with the publisher of the Los Angeles Times, Otis Chandler. He said, “You have a lot of influence. You reach a lot of people, a lot of people hear your radio program, read your material. Why don’t you give your opinion more often?” I said, “I have one purpose in this life, in this world, and that is to give a voice to God’s opinion.”
I really do believe that being a man of God is a serious calling. And it is to that issue that I wish to speak tonight, but not on my own rather from the Word of God. And I would like to take as a text I Timothy chapter 6. In I Timothy chapter 6 and verse 11, we read the phrase “You man of God.” That is 1 of 2 times that that term appears in the New Testament. Both times it is directed at Timothy.
“Man of God” means God’s man or the man who personally belongs to God. And by the way that is an official title. That is not a generic term. That is a technical term. It appears 70 times in the Old Testament. Every time it is used, it is used technically of someone who was uniquely the spokesman for God. It was first used of Moses, who spoke for God. Then it was used as an angelic messenger from God announcing the birth of Samson. Then is was used to describe a prophet who spoke for God to Eli, the high priest, predicting severe judgment on his wicked family. Then is was used of Samuel, who spoke divine truth. It was used of Elijah. It was used of Elisha. It was used of David, and many others. But every time it was used, it was used to refer to an official messenger who came from God to proclaim His Word.
Men of God, then, are an elite line of men. There lives are lifted above worldly enterprises and goals, and devoted exclusively to divine and eternal matters. The man of God belongs to a spiritual order, with which temporal, transitory, and perishing things have no permanent relationship. Anyone who is called to reach the Word of the Living God is a man of God.
The question that I would like to pose to you is this—What are the marks of such a man? What are the identifying characteristics of a man of God? If this is a pastor’s conference and we are all men of God, who are the official called and gifted spokesmen for God, called to proclaim His Word, then we really ought to know what should mark us. The Apostle Paul in writing to young Timothy, who was his son in the faith, and to whom he would pass the mantle of his own responsibilities, was just such a man of God who needed the very instruction that we need as well.
In verses 11-14 of this text, there are four characteristics of a man of God—four of them. And if we are to bear the title “Man of God” then we should be marked by the same four characteristics.
Chuck Swindoll “Emancipated? Then Live Like It!”
(6 minutes 50 seconds)
I have never witnessed, first-hand, slavery. Even though I was raised in the south, I have never seen slavery in action. I have, like you, read of it on the printed page, I have seen it on live stage, and I have watched it portrayed in film but I have never, never seen in raw reality, the horrors of slavery. But I have seen enough and imagined enough about it to know that it is cruel and unjust and it is down-right ugly. It is ugly.
As an American, I confess I find myself somewhat confused that we would fight to the end to gain our independence and freedom from the slavery we felt from Great Britain, only to turn around and enslave others without the slightest hesitation. It took a Civil War to break that yoke. It took a courageous president to stand in the gap and to live misunderstood and maligned to die from an assassin’s bullet to break that yoke.
At our sixteenth president’s second inaugural address, shortly, really only weeks before he was assassinated and even less time than that before the war ended, he spoke of both parties in this bloodbath of the Civil War, deprecating war, and yet war came. He continued in that address, neither party expected for the war the magnitude nor the duration which it has already obtained. Each looked for an easier triumph, both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God, and each envokes His aid against the other. And with that, Lincoln let his own feelings show through in that address as he spoke of how strange it was, and I quote, “that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces.” Great words.
Ultimately, as all of you know, slavery was abolished. As a matter of fact, it was legally abolished long before that inaugural address. It was the first of January, 1863, when the Emancipation Proclamation was legally adopted and set into motion. The headlines swept capital hill and down into the valleys of Virginia, and into the Carolinas, and across into the plantations of Georgia and Alabama and Mississippi and Louisiana. The headlines read—Slavery Legally Abolished. And yet, something strange, amazingly strange took place. Slaves, the great majority of the slaves in the south, who were legally freed continued to live on as slaves.
You read the history books for yourself. You will find that they continued to live virtually unchanged during the Reconstruction Period. Shelby Foote, in his monumental three volume work on the Civil War, verifies this surprising anomaly. As only he can write, “The negro remained locked in a cast system of race etiquette as rigid as any he had known in formal bondage. And that every slave could repeat with equal validity what an Alabama slave had said when asked what he thought about the great emancipator whose proclamation had gone into effect. He mumbled, “I don’t know nothin’ about Abraham Lincoln, ‘cept they say he set us free. And I don’t know nothin’ about that neither.”
How tragic. “I don’t know nothin’ about freedom and I don’t know nothin’ about a great emancipator. That’s the way the plantation owner wanted it. Keep ‘em ignorant and you keep them in the field. It’s tragic. A war had been fought, a document had been signed, slaves were now legally set free. The word is emancipated, and yet most continued to live right on in fear—“I don’t know nothin’ about that neither.”
Now if you think that’s tragic, I can tell you one even worse. It has to do with Christians living today as slaves to sin. Even though our great Emancipator paid the ultimate price, not an assassin’s bullet but a death on the cross to overthrow, listen to this, once for all slavery to sin. We act like we don’t know nothin’ about that. We act like we don’t even know the Emancipator. In fact, strange, strange as it is, we seem to prefer the security of slavery to the risk of liberty. And our slave-master loves it so. Satan is delighted that we have bought into that lie and live in that ignorance. He sits like a fat cat saying, “Great, go right on living like a slave,” even though he knows we are free. He knows it better than any of us.
Now before going any further, let me pause here and ask you to track with me as we review some thoughts on slavery, as it relates to spiritual slavery, okay? We’re going to need the help of our Bibles. Romans chapter three will give us the first 3 facts that I want to lodge in your mind by way of review.
Stephen F. Olford “The Reality of the Hardened Heart”
(2 minutes 45 seconds)
Dr. Herbert Beeller, the author of Food Is the Best Medicine, tells us that the number one killing power in America today is the heart attack. In fact, one million people die every year in this country through heart disease. And that disease is started and accelerated and consummated by what is known in the medical world as arteriosclerosis. And every time we breathe somebody has a heart attack across this country. So that one of the greatest enemies of physical health in this land of ours today with all our civilization, with all our advances, and all our affluence is heart problems, heart troubles, heart disease.
But you know, this is just as true in the spiritual realm. And as a matter of fact the Holy Spirit uses a Greek term from which we get our modern term “sclerosis” to indicate what is true of Christian people all across America today and beyond America, not only among the unregenerate but among Christian people. And last night, I started by asking, “How many of you have come with a burdened heart?” How many of you as you drove up or flew through the air communicated with the other as those two on the way to Emmaus with sad hearts, dull hearts, and you’ve come longing that you may go away with burning hearts? I want to ask another question tonight, I wonder how many of you have come to be with us with hardened hearts?
You’ve become sophisticated, professional, calloused. You’re affected by sclerosis in the spiritual life. This is a grim reality that we need to face. And tonight very, very simply I want to exegete this passage and discuss with you first of all what I am going to call the cause of a hardened heart, the curse of a hardened heart, and the cure of a hardened heart.
Tom Eliff “Living with God-Given Goals”
(2 minutes 30 seconds)
Why don’t you get a God-given goal for your life? Ah, I wish I had the opportunity to tell you the consequences. I’ll do that next time. I just want to challenge you to get God’s goals for your life. By His Spirit, through His Word, you find what God will give to you.
There was a young man going through college. He had a terrible time. There was a time when, in a fleeting moment of anger, he said, “I believe that that college professor has no more grace than a chair.” The result of that was that they threw him out of school. They thought, “We’re not missing much, he’s not a good student any way.” They threw him out of school. They said, “We’re not going to teach you anything about mission work. We’re not going to teach you how to be an evangelist. We don’t have much hope for you at all. It’s over. Finis. Curtains. We’re through with you.”
That young man took his belongings and said, “But I have a goal. I have ha goal. God has burdened my heart with the lost souls of those Indians on the eastern seaboard of this continent.” “Too bad, son. You’re not a good student. You’re not a good man. We don’t even think you’re a very good Christian.” “But I have a goal.”
Packing his belongings he set out to minister to the Indians. And when, scarcely past his thirtieth birthday, David Brainerd died it was said of him, “On that man’s prayers and work God brought the greatest single revival movement in the history of this nation.” He had a God-given goal. Do you? Do you? What is it? Where did you lose it? What are you doing about it, that God-given goal?
John MacArthur “Marks of the Faithful Preacher
(1 minute 22 seconds)
Excellence. Not success. Excellence. Not, “How do I stack up with others in my culture?” but “How do I stack up with God?” Not, “Am I better than someone else?” but “Am I the best I can be?” That’s the issue. Always.
Paul is calling Timothy to excellence and calling me to excellence and calling you to excellence. And so we need to look at our lives, don’t we? All you can be is all you can be. And if you try to be more you’ll be a pocket watch hanging in front of Big Ben and nobody will know you’re there and your elevation will be your annihilation. And if you pursue success you’ll compromise. But if you pursue excellence you can’t compromise. Excellence doesn’t have any room for compromise. You can go to the cheap route to success but it will cost you everything to go the route of excellence. You can get your success here and now or you can have excellence reward you for ever and ever and ever.
The choice is yours and it’s yours everyday, every hour of every day. It comes down to that.
Let’s pray together.
Chuck Swindoll “Squaring Off Against Legalism”
(3 minutes 25 seconds)
How do I take a strong defense against legalism? Let me suggest you keep standing firm in your freedom.
Let me suggest, secondly, you stop seeking the favor of everyone. If you’re in a group where you have to do certain things that are against your conscience, or they’re requiring things that are not your convictions, get out of the group. You’re a fool to stay in a place where your conscience tells you it’s not right. You’re serving men not God. I don’t car how spiritually sounding they are. Stop seeking the favor of everybody.
Third, start refusing to submit to bondage. Call it what it is. It’s slavery. It’s spiritually on the basis of pleasing your neighbor. And, by the way, don’t remind me of all the rights being taken advantage of. We’ll get to that. I’m up to here with being reminded about how liberty needs to be restricted. I’ve got those rules down pat. Every time I speak on grace I get on onslaught of mail that says, “Remember now, you got to warn them about taking their liberty to extreme.” I will. I will. Just let ‘em fly a little, okay? Let ‘em fly. Let ‘em fly. We’re so good at clipping wings and clipping wings that we don’t even know how to fly. Some of you have never been free! Never! Fly a little. Learn what it’s like to soar. Stop looking for folks with the scissors. They’re always around. They keep ‘em sharp.
Fourth, continue being straight-forward about the truth. Continue being straight-forward about the truth. That means live honestly. When you blow it, say “I blew it,” even to your kids. When you were a hypocrite say, “You know what kids, I got to tell you, I was a first class hypocrite last week. What you saw and pointed out was exactly right.” Tell ‘em that. It will be embarrassing to you now but they will love you forever and they won’t grow up damaged. They won’t have to cover up for you because you’re phony bologna and you won’t admit it.
Pray for every pastor there is in the country. It’s an enormous responsibility to preach truth and then to live up to it. And we don’t do it. Pray that we’ll have courage to be straight-forward about it when we don’t.
Paul Tournier, in his best book, Guilt and Grace and I close with his words, “In all fields, even those of culture and art,” get this, “other people’s judgment exercises a paralyzing effect. Fear of criticism kills spontaneity. It prevents men from showing themselves and expressing themselves freely as they are. Much courage is needed to paint a picture, to write a book, to erect a building designed along new architectural lines, or to formulate an independent opinion or an original idea.” Ummh, great stuff!
Richard Mayhue “Truth for Sheep”
(1 minute 5 seconds)
It’s hard to believe that anything but a bright future is in store for you as a church but just knowing that things don’t always go as planned, if the day ever comes that you think that Ben ought to go, let me make for suggestions as to how to get rid of him.
Number one, look him straight in the eye while he’s preaching and say, “Amen!” and he’ll preach himself to death.
Number two, pat him on the back and brag about his good points and he’ll probably work himself to death.
Number three rededicate your life to Christ and ask the preacher for some job to do, preferably some lost person who needs to hear the gospel, and he’ll probably die of heart failure.
And four, get the Church to unite in prayer for Ben Awbrey and soon become so effective that some larger Church will want to take him off of your hands. Let’s pray.
Chuck Swindoll “The Grace to Let Others Be”
(4 minutes 15 seconds)
So much for the guidelines. I want to close quickly with a couple, or three, four, maybe four action steps. You say, “I’ve heard enough Chuck. You’ve convinced me. I need to do something about my attitude in this area. I need to bring it under the cross. I need to bring it before Christ. I need to come to terms with some stuff that is way out of line, my attitude toward those who don’t feel freedom.” Yours may be in that area. My attitude toward those who live much freer that I am comfortable with. Okay, here’s some action steps.
Number one. Pursue things that encourage peace and build up others. Pursue things that encourage peace and build up one another. See the way he puts it? Verse nineteen, “Let us pursue the things that make for peace.” Check what you are going to say through the grid of, “Is this going to encourage peace? Is this going to build up my brother or sister?” Pursue that. Let me give you a tip along this line. Spend less time talking about people in your groups. Spend more time talking about things, events, significant truths. I challenge you in your gatherings, spend an evening without once mentioning a person. The evening will probably end early. Deal with truths. Deal with events. Deal with convictions. Keep people out of it. It’ll help.
Second. Remember, sabotaging saints hurts the work of God. Sabotaging fellow saints hurts the work of God. Verse twenty, “don’t tear down the work of God for the sake of food.” You sabotage the saints when you flaunt your liberty and you rub people’s noses in it, knowing they have convictions against it. That’s not fair. That’s fighting dirty.
Third, exercise your liberty only with those who can enjoy it with you. That means keep it private. Exercise your liberty with those who can enjoy it with you. That’s restraining because of love.
And finally, determine where you stand and refuse to play God in anyone else’s life. The great J. Greshem Machen once said, as he counseled with Christians regarding their consciences, “To keep themselves free from the tyranny of experts.”
May I close with a quote from C.S. Lewis, whom all of us appreciate. “Either we give up trying to be good or else we become very unhappy indeed. For make no mistake, if you are really going to try to meet all the demands made on the natural self it will not have enough left over to live on. The more you obey your conscience, the more your conscience will demand of you. And your natural self which is thus being starved and hampered and worried at every turn will get angrier and angrier. In the end you will give up trying to be “good” or else become one of those people who, as they say, live for others but always in a discontented, grumbling way, always making a martyr out of yourself. And once you have become that you will become a far greater pest to anyone who has to live with you than you would if you would have remained frankly selfish.”