This weekend I will be presenting several talks for a seminar on Islam at Richland Correctional. My prison students asked me to do the seminar because they wanted to have the men equipped to do some apologetics with the Muslims they frequently rub shoulders with.
I will also be presenting a summary of the talks at our Sunday night Bible study (August 4th, 6:30 pm). If you are interested in learning how to refute Islam, you are more than welcome to join us for the evening. Email me for directions if you need them.
The talks include: The Dilemma of Islam; Allah: Uncovered and Exposed; The Sure Way of Salvation
This is another snipit of ideas for the book I would like to oneday write entitled "Do the work of an evangelist."
It has often been said, “Preach like a Baptist, pray like a Presbyterian.” The idea is that God uses means in reaching the lost, and prayer is one of them. We recognize that God alone is the one who has elected those who will be saved and he alone has the power to change the heart and enable them to embrace the gospel. Thus, if we desire gospel success, we ought to devote much time to the Lord in prayer.
Let us look at two Scriptures in this regard. The first demonstrates the need for prayer. In Luke 11 Jesus told his disciples to “Pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” This verse tells us that God has ordained prayer to be one of the means He uses in reaching the lost. The converse implication is that without prayer, the advancement of the kingdom will be retarded.
Another important text to consider is the Lord’s Prayer, specifically the second petition, which says, “Your kingdom come.” Christ taught his disciples to pray for the advancement of the kingdom. Thus, it illustrates again how God has incorporated prayer into the grand scheme of the salvation of men and his unfolding, redemptive plan.
It has historically been recognized though that each petition of the Lord’s Prayer is a synecdoche (a literary device where one part stands as a representative of a whole or larger body). So, this one petition, embodies all things associated with prayer and the advancement of Christ’s kingdom. The catechisms reveal this:
Westminster Shorter Catechism:
In the second petition we pray that Satan’s kingdom would be destroyed; and that the kingdom of grace may be advanced, ourselves and others brought into it, and kept in it; and that the kingdom of glory may be hastened.
Westminster Larger Catechism:
In the second petition, acknowledging ourselves and all mankind to be by nature under the dominion of sin and Satan, we pray, that the kingdom of sin and Satan would be destroyed, the gospel propagated throughout the world, the Jews called, the fullness of the Gentiles brought in; the church furnished with all gospel officers and ordinances, purged from corruption, countenanced and maintained by the civil magistrate: that the ordinances of Christ may be purely dispensed, and made effectual to the converting of those that are yet in their sins, and the confirming, comforting, and building up of those that are already converted: that Christ would rule in our hearts here, and hasten the time of his second coming, and our reigning with him forever: and that he would be please so to exercise the kingdom of his power in all the world, as may best conduce to those ends.
Thy kingdom come. That is: so rule us by Thy Word and Spirit that we may submit ourselves more and more to Thee; preserve and increase Thy Church; destroy the works of the devil, every power that exalts itself against Thee, and all wicked counsels conceived against Thy holy Word, until the perfection of thy kingdom arrive wherein Thou shalt be all in all.
We must never forget the necessity of what has often been called biological evangelism. The Scripture reminds us that God works through families (Adam & Eve, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc). The promise of the gospel was “to you and to your offspring.” And it will always be the case that the family will be the nursery of the gospel. This is why Martin Luther once said that the church is always one generation away from dying out. He understood that without gospel nurture in the home, the church would cease to exist.
For this reason we must make it our aim to cultivate Christian nurture in the home. At the very least parents must have daily times of family worship where the Scripture is read and prayer is offered. Songs and Christian music should fill the home. Homeschooling has also been seen as a vital part of the process of Christian nurture (Deut. 6:4). In any case, the parents are to see to it that the children are raised in an environment where they can be exposed to the means of grace and godly discipline (discipleship!).
3. Personal gospel engagement
Church members ought to be given adequate instruction in sharing the gospel and lovingly encouraged to engage their family, friends, and neighbors with the gospel. The church should organize events where they can be given opportunities to witness or give their personal testimony. Those who are mature and have the means to do so should also be encouraged to lead Bible studies for people who are inclined to listen to what Christianity is all about.
At the very least, the congregation should be attempting to invite friends to church services and functions so that they might encounter the gospel on a more fuller scale.
4. Church organized outreach programs
I once knew of a church that wanted to start some evangelism. The end result of their efforts was that they put up a sign out front that said, “First Presbyterian Church.” Little did they know that it was more a sign that it was a dead church.
Churches should be planning ways to engage their community. First, they must be equipped with gospel literature and/or other materials that will help propagate the gospel (books, pamphlets, websites, social media, business cards, tracts, etc.) Secondly, they must be intentional about connecting with the unbelieving: booths at the county fair, passing out literature at public events, etc.
By this time you know where I stand on this. The testimony of Scripture is prolific when it comes to how effective the preaching of the gospel is for the advancement of Christ’s kingdom. We need only look at the verse cited at the very beginning of this page: Christ wanted us to pray for harvesters—men who would go out into the world and preach.
The emphasis on preaching is so replete in the Scripture that the Westminster divines went so far as to say, “How is the Word made effectual to salvation? The Spirit of God makes the reading, but especially the preaching of the Word, an effectual means of convincing and converting sinners, and building them up in holiness and comfort, through faith unto salvation.” The men of the Westminster Assembly rightly understand that God has a particular place for the official proclamation of the gospel that rates even higher than the simple reading of Scripture.
We must understand that friendship evangelism has its place, but it will never compare to a man who has been raised up to proclaim the Scripture. Just see Romans 10:14-15.
Thus, ministers much preach as often as they can and in as many places as they can.
One of the things that I've always had in mind to do is write a practical book on evangelism--something like a manual for church planting that would give helpful tips that I've learned over the years to assist the naive church planter/evangelist.
I'm posting a couple ideas here, just to have them on hand should the Lord grant me the opportunity:
This last one is what I've been working on the last day or so. This article has some good tips if you have to design and/or print your own pamphlets: No one reads your pamphlets. Not that it is all that inspiring (I got it off a template that my computer provided), but here is my attempt to make a pamphlet for our church.
In regards to passing them out, there are two events planned. Tonight we are providing dinner for some of the men on the college football team. After they eat my friend Caleb will speak on the Parable of the Prodigal Son. We are having these pamphlets available on a table in case anyone is looking for a church.
I have also put together an "Introduction to Home Education" seminar. It will be held in a few weeks and is the perfect opportunity to promote our church. Many of our members are homeschoolers and we want to promote family integration in any way possible. So providing this service is a benefit to the community, and a good way to get out name out to others who are looking for a family oriented church.
As we wrap up our series on preaching, we want to make sure we conclude on a high note. What better way to do that than by talking about the gospel!
Over the years I've experienced two different extremes when it comes to the gospel and how it fits into a sermon. In my early days I attended a church that never really mentioned the gospel. Christ was pretty much absent from every sermon that was ever preached. So the messages were mainly moralistic.
Later, I attended a series of churches where the gospel was preached every Sunday. It was good at first because I had been deprived of it for so long at my other church. However, I came to find that the gospel presentation was ordinarily tacked on to the end of the message and really didn't have anything to do with the message that was just preached.
What's more, in these churches I found that the gospel was not really even for me! It was typically directed towards the unbeliever as a call was issued to him to embrace the Savior.
Our aim at Providence Church is to preach the gospel every Sunday because we know it is important for everyone's spiritual development, even the Christian's. As a matter of fact, we believe that if Christ is not preached, then we have not preached a truly Christian sermon!
But how do you do that without tacking the gospel on at the end of the message? The answer lies in the expository method. We believe that the gospel should rise naturally from the text itself.
Jesus said that the whole of the Scripture bears witness to him (John 5:39). At another time he took time to interpret the things concerning himself in the law and the prophets (Luke 24:27).
This means that every text of Scripture finds its culmination in Christ. It doesn't matter if it is the deep recesses of Leviticus or the heavy arguments of an epistle, every line finds its fulfillment in Christ.
So as you come to Providence you will not just hear sermons that are practical. You will hear sermons that are guided and shaped by the gospel. Better yet, you will find how the gospel should guide and shape your own life.
When you are trying to figure out which restaurant to attend, you want to make sure you choose one that will provide the best meal.
The same can be said for the church you choose. You want to choose a church where you are sure to receive the best spiritual nourishment.
But what makes for the best soul food? We believe it is a church that is dedicated to expository preaching.
In our last post we began to introduce expository preaching. We contrasted it with topical preaching, and said that expository preaching was a superior form of preaching because the topic and points are drawn straight from the text (and not simply from the preacher's interests or preferences!).
Today, we want to further show how expository preaching is the best way of examining the Scripture and feeding the flock of God.
The word exposit is not one that is tossed around a lot today. It may help to know what it means. Exposit simply means "to explain." Thus, in expository preaching, the preacher is seeking to explain the meaning of a single text of Scripture.
In the book of Nehemiah we see an example of this form of preaching. In Nehmiah 8 we read that the people of Israel had gathered together on a special occasion to listen to Ezra read from the book of the law. Ezra also had helpers with him whose job was to "give the sense" so that all the people could understand what had been read (v. 7-8).
Supposedly, this is how it would go: Ezra would begin by reading a portion of the Scripture. He would then pause so that his attendants could explain what it meant to the people. Then Ezra would read another portion, and it too would be opened up so that the audience could have a deeper grasp of what it taught.
This is the Biblical grounding for our practice of expository preaching. Our goal is to help those in the congregation intimately understand each part of God's book. So each Sunday a portion of Scripture is read, and then, the minister seeks to explain what it means so that the congregation can have a secure grasp on what God has said there.
For example, the minister might get up and read a parable from one of the gospels. After it is read, he will seek to explain the meaning of that parable in simple terms. He will move line by line through the text and give the sense of each part so that the hearers may have a firm grip on what the Lord was trying to communicate in that parable.
In our next post, we will talk a little more about how one "gives the sense" of Scripture. There is a three step method that we typically use when explaining a passage.
For now, you can check out some expository messages by listening to any of oursermons that we have posted here on our site!
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.