Toward Expository Preaching

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From Faith Pulpit, Winter 2014. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

God’s people understand that the Bible demands the preaching of God’s Word. Faithful ministers will, therefore, preach God’s Word, and God’s people will listen to the proclamation of His Word. Passages such as 1 Corinthians 1 and 2 and 2 Timothy 3:15—4:2 demonstrate the priority God places on preaching the Word. Paul insisted that God’s methodology is the “foolishness of the message preached” (1 Cor. 1:21). The preacher must proclaim the Word “not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Cor. 2:4). He further instructed Timothy to “preach the word” (2 Tim. 4:2).

The Background of Preaching

The ancient world recognized the value of spoken words. Aristotle’s On Rhetoric provides insight into the importance of public speaking. He defined speaking in terms of the ethos (character) of the author, the pathos (emotion) of the author, and the logos (content) of the message. Aristotle argued against the manipulation of an audience and concluded that the character of the author must come before either emotion or the content. All of these elements find emphasis in a class on preaching.

Classic education also emphasized the value of spoken words. Classic education typically divided itself into three categories (trivium): grammar, logic, and rhetoric. This form of education is actually finding a rebirth in some school curricula. The New Testament church found itself in the cultural backdrop of these educational emphases in the first century. Read more about Toward Expository Preaching

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“Net” or “Nets”? Why Greek Texts and English Translations Differ

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The Miraculous Draught of Fishes, 1545. Jacopo Bassano

Reprinted with permission from As I See It, which is available free by writing to the editor at dkutilek@juno.com.

4 Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. 5 And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. 6 And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. (KJV, Luke 5:4–6. Emphasis added.)

Hello Mr. Kutilek,

Years ago, I heard a preacher make an entire sermon out of the difference between “nets” plural and “net” singular in Luke 5:4-5 [KJV]. The message was that Peter trifled at the word by not obeying and letting down the nets and instead just threw out one net because of his lack of faith. This past Sunday, I heard another person mention this very thing so I’m prompted to check into it.

It seems that the Greek word diktuon is exactly the same in both places. NIV and NASB use plural in both places. I can see where people would pick up on it and make a point out of Peter not fully following the Lord’s instruction, but I’m not sure that it really is written that way. I don’t know Greek well enough to know how to see the difference between the singular and plural forms. Would you be willing to comment?

Thanks for your help.

C. Read more about “Net” or “Nets”? Why Greek Texts and English Translations Differ

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Strive Not About Words

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Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. (KJV, 2 Timothy 2:14)

I’ve often heard this text used to discourage detailed debate about the meaning of Scripture passages, or even to devalue highly precise Bible study. Is this what Paul’s warning to Timothy here is about?

First, observe that whatever “striving about words” is, Paul clearly saw it as something that threatened Timothy’s ministry. Timothy is to “charge them before the Lord” not to do this. Second, the activity is doubly discouraged as lacking in value (“no profit”) and also as causing damage of some kind to hearers (“subverting”). Third, the activity apparently involved individuals in at least two roles: the “strivers” and the “hearers.”

So what activity is being forbidden here? What is meant by “strive not about words”? Read more about Strive Not About Words

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Renewing Dispensational Theology: A Suggested Path, Part 2

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This completes the thoughts offered previously (see Part 1).

4. Systematic Theology

Coming now to Systematic Theology, the first thing that must be said is that the pretended stand for a partial system must be summarily dropped. Dispensational Theology (DT) cannot be switched out for the term Dispensational Premillennialism. In point of fact, I make bold to say that the notion of Dispensational Premillennialism is a bit of an odd bird without a full-orbed system to back it up. Most Dispensationalists have been blithely contented to append their eschatology on to the end of another system—most often the Reformed position. But this is a dubious, and, let us admit it, halfsighted maneuver.

When DT is tacked onto an already developed system of theology it can only present itself as a correction to certain aspects of that system of theology. In so doing it tangles with the methodological presuppositions of that theology. But because it allies itself so often to say, Reformed theology, it must act deferentially towards Reformed formulations in areas other than ecclesiology and eschatology. For if it failed to acknowledge Reformed theology’s right to assert itself in these other areas—the doctrine of God, the doctrine of man and sin, the doctrine of salvation, for example—it could not think of itself as Reformed. This is because in claiming its right to question Reformed assumptions in any theological area save in regard to the Last Things (and perhaps the Church), Dispensational theology would be asserting its right to formulate all its own doctrines independently of other theologies. It would grow to dislike its assumed role as a beneficial parasite, cleaning up areas of another theological system, and would wish to be “Dispensational” in every area! Ergo, even if DT’s formulations of all the theological areas were closely aligned with Reformed theology here and there, they would be its own formulations. This is precisely what I am pleading for! Read more about Renewing Dispensational Theology: A Suggested Path, Part 2

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The Pyramid of Responsibility, Part 2

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From Voice, Mar/Apr 2014. Used by permission. Read Part 1.

Different relationships, different responsibilities

Believers need to understand that there are varying levels of relationships within the Body of Christ, each with differing responsibilities. Although somewhat inclusive on the broadest level (our brotherhood in Christ), relationships become increasingly limited as one moves toward the individual’s standing before the Lord (priesthood of the believer). Thus, the most limited level of relationship is the priesthood of the believer, a level so exclusive that no one except the individual believer and the Lord are able to enjoy it.

Confusing the limitations of one level with those of another is where the majority of detonations occur in the minefield of biblically mandated relationships between believers. Seeking to apply the freedoms intended for a “lower” level to a level designed to be more limited produces inclusivism and compromise. Likewise, seeking to impose the restrictions intended for an “upper” level to a level designed to be broader brings exclusivism and unwarranted schism. Therefore the Pyramid of Responsibility of biblically mandated relationships must be understood and applied as believers seek to emulate our holy and loving God. Read more about The Pyramid of Responsibility, Part 2

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The Pyramid of Responsibility, Part 1

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From Voice, Mar/Apr 2014. Used by permission.1

Tiptoeing through the minefields encircling the relationships within the Body of Christ is enormously daunting. It seems that at any moment the dreaded event of stepping in the wrong place will trigger a mine that Satan has laid to disrupt fellowship between believers. As successive issues detonate, the Body of Christ is often divided, and the loss of its vitality prevents brethren from being effective in representing Christ Jesus.

Some of these mines are important areas of truth and doctrine that must never be viewed as negotiable. Others are incidental matters that ought not to inflict the damage they do. Some believers conclude that the risk of crossing the field is too high. Consequently, they want little to do with attempting to relate to the entire Body of Christ. They stay where it is safe and allow the rest of the Body of Christ to do the same. As a result of this protectionism and exclusivity, their impact is greatly diminished.

Other believers are so desirous of enjoying relationships with the entire Body of Christ they become indiscriminate. These believers seem to care little about the issues and the damage that compromising their doctrinal beliefs brings. By the time they reach the other side of the minefield, there is little genuine Christianity left. As a result of their inclusiveness, they have little to offer in terms of meaningful fellowship in Christ. Read more about The Pyramid of Responsibility, Part 1

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From the Archives: Fulfilling God's Law by Walking in the Spirit

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Originally posted March, 2011.

The God of the Bible is presented without apology as a law-issuing God who expects us to be law-keeping people. God does not ask permission to assert Himself as the arbiter of human ethics (Gen. 2:15-17). He determines for His creatures the standard of right and wrong and we are duty-bound to know His commandments and honor them.

Such notions are naturally unsettling, particularly when one begins to comprehend precisely what God requires of us. I am reminded of a conversation I had with a stranger seated next to me on a commercial flight home from the east coast some years ago. I came to find out later that he had grown up in a strict Jewish family in which God’s Law to Israel was studied and honored. He was heading to Minneapolis on business and initially asked my advice on the hottest downtown night clubs. We were obviously strangers. He may as well have asked my advice on nuclear physics.

Perhaps it was my bald ignorance of the Minneapolis night club scene that piqued his curiosity, but in any event he began to probe to discover who I was. When he learned the orientation of my life as a minister of the gospel, he proceeded to poke fun at the religion he had long ago left in the dust. Along the way, he explained, he had decoded the vision of God presented in the Hebrew Scriptures. “What is the tastiest meat?” he pressed me. I hesitated. “Obviously, it’s pork,” he asserted with an air of confidence. “So what does God say? ‘No pork.’”

In his view, the God of the Bible calibrates laws so as to drive his children crazy. To whatever they naturally want, whatever is pleasing to their humanity, God says “No.” To whatever they find distasteful, God says “Yes.” As far as my friend was concerned, God’s laws are designed to increase our misery. And I fully suspect that as he headed off to downtown clubs later that evening, he was intent on violating several of those laws. Read more about From the Archives: Fulfilling God's Law by Walking in the Spirit

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Book Review - John Knox (Christian Biographies for Young Readers)

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Image of John Knox (Christian Biographies for Young Readers)
by Simonetta Carr
Reformation Heritage Books 2014
Hardcover 64

The Christian Biographies for Young Readers series introduces children to key figures from church history. Author Simonetta Carr and illustrator Matt Abraxas offer a compelling and beautiful historical account of the life of each Christian figure profiled in the series. To date, the series includes volumes on John Calvin, John Owen, Augustine of HIppo, Athanasius, Anselm of Canterbury, Lady Jane Grey, and now, John Knox.

The life of John Knox

John Knox’s life has action and adventure enough for any young reader. His story is told with an eye to historical accuracy and with an eye to a child’s mind. From humble beginnings, Knox finds himself as a bodyguard to Reformer George Wishart, who is captured and killed. Knox goes from hiding out in St. Andrews Castle, a Protestant stronghold, to cowering in the belly of a French galley as a slave. He finds unexpected freedom and returns to pulpit ministry in England, but soon has to flee in exile to Geneva where he comes under the tutelage of John Calvin. He returns to Scotland in time to help lead the Reformation movement there. Knox the fiery preacher, delivers a sermon that sparks an all-out revolt and ultimately wins Scotland’s religious freedom. Knox’s life is not only eventful, but it provides teachable moments for children to study the Reformation and to learn what was wrong with the Roman church. It also teaches children the sacrifice that people faced to follow Christ in years gone by. Read more about Book Review - John Knox (Christian Biographies for Young Readers)

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