Book Review: On Preaching

On Preaching — Personal & Pastoral Insights for the Preparation & Practice of Preaching


As I study the Bible, and study the science of preaching, this has been an invaluable tool to add to my “tool belt” of ministry. H.B. Charles, Jr. is a preacher and teacher of God’s Word, and so he writes this book from experience.

This book is perfect for a casual read or someone busy in ministry. This book is made up of 30 different chapters that fall under 3 parts: Preparation for Preaching, The Practice of Preaching, and Points of Wisdom for Preaching.

Often I pick up a book only to return to it a couple days later to have forgotten a lot of what happened prior to the chapter I am on. However, H.B. Charles has written this book in such a way that this is not a problem. The chapters are written more like articles that are easy 5-10 minute reads. This is very helpful to someone who is busy in ministry or preparing for ministry.

He starts out by explaining that Theological training is not necessary, but it would be helpful if it is possible for a person to get the training. Most authors on preaching would argue that you must get Theological training to be an effective preacher, but he shows the importance without demanding the reader to attend seminary.

Charles also goes through many other topics on preaching from crafting a sermon to delivering it. I would highly recommend this book to any serious preacher of God’s Word no matter how long they have been in the pulpit! I would give this book a 5/5.

WHERE TO BUY THIS BOOK: https://www.amazon.com/Preaching-Personal-Pastoral-Insights-Preparation/dp/0802411916/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1523220683&sr=8-1

BIBLIOGRAPHY OF THIS BOOK: Charles Jr., H.B. On Preaching. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2014. 

DISCLOSURE OF THIS MATERIAL: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Moody Publishers, in exchange for an honest, though not necessarily positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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What is Hope according to the Bible?

Word Study- Hope – 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

The word elpizo is used quite frequently, and plays a key role in the context of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 since the main idea of learning of the Rapture is to comfort those fellow believers. The way our word hope is used today is much different from the usage in Bible times. Hope today often has no expectation of outcome whereas in the Biblical definition it appears to have an earnest expectation of that hope coming to pass. This is important in 1 Thessalonians, as Paul commands the church “comfort one another with these words,” if we are to comfort one another with these words, it is important we have the proper understanding of the word hope. In chapter 5 Paul mentions the “hope of salvation,” and it seems to be a contrast to those who have “no hope” in 4:13. By understanding how the word hope is used in 4:13 should aid in understanding the comfort of 4:18, also this should aid in understanding the other times hope occurs in the book of 1 Thessalonians.

Classical Usage

In classical usage, elpizo means “hope for, look for, expect.” This translation is found in Xenophon’s, Xenophontis opera omnia. Here it is used in the context of hoping for greater things, and earlier in the context is translated as confidence. This word is also used in references to evils defined as “look for, fear.” This usage is found in Sophocles, Trachiniae. Here it is used in the context of fearing the journey her husband will take in which she expects him not to return. elpizo is also used as a present infinitive to mean, “deem, suppose that.” This usage is found in Plato’s, Republic and is translated as, “expects” in reference to ruling over others. Finally, this word can be used with the dative to mean, “hope in.” This usage is found in Thucydides’, The Peloponnesian War, and is translated as “trusting,” speaking of the general trusting/hoping in his fortune. Therefore, the meaning of this word in classical literature ranges from hope for to fear.

Papyri Usage

The word elpizo has multiple usages in the papyri. The clearest example of papyri usage is in a soldier writing to his father, and he says, “I hope to be quickly promoted, if the gods will.” This usage of hope appears to a desire as opposed to an expectation. There are also five untranslated examples of elpizo. The usage in the papyri appears to be only used of a hope as a desire or wish.

Septuagint (Greek Old Testament) Usage

In the Septuagint, the word elpizo is used to translate multiple different Hebrew words. The main word that it is used to translate is bth which is the Hebrew word to trust; to be confident. This usage is very prominent in the book of Psalms to refer to putting one’s trust in the Lord. In the book of Judges it is also used to mean putting one’s confidence in a military leader. The second most common usage of this word is used to translate the Hebrew word hsh which means to take refuge. This usage is always found in the book of Psalms, and is translated as putting one’s trust in the Lord as a place of refuge. The third most prominent usage of this word is used to translate the Hebrew word yhl which means to wait; to cause to hope. This usage is found in Psalms, and Isaiah. It is often translated as hoping and trusting in the Lord. The three main usages of evlpizw in the Septuagint are translated as hope or trust, and all refer to a hope that is confident because of the person in whom the trust is placed.

New Testament Usage

elpizo occurs in the New Testament thirty-one times. The word is translated as trust; trusted seventeen times in the New Testament. This usage is most prevalent in Pauline writing, however, it is also used in the Gospels, by Peter, and John. Most often it is used in context of trusting in God, emphasizing more the person whom is being trusted rather than the trust itself. Paul, and John also use this word in the context of hoping to see the people who they were writing to in person. It was an expectation that they would see them.

This verb is translated eleven times in the New Testament as hope, hoped, or hoping. This usage is in the context of something being expected. It is used twice of rulers expecting something from the Lord, and Paul. They were not merely hoping for these things, but expecting them to perform that which they hoped for. Peter uses this word to hope or expect the grace that will come when the Lord returns. This is a reality, and not just a desire or wish. In every context this is used it signifies an expectation.

This word is also used one time to mean hopeth, we have hope, and trusteth respectively. It is used in 1 Corinthians 13:7 in reference to love that it “hopeth all things…” It is used in 1 Corinthians 15:9 for the hope we have in Christ. This word is also used in 1 Timothy 5:5 to speak of a widow that “trusteth in God…” These translations also carry the idea of an expectation in God or Christ in the contexts they are used.

When elpizo is used in the New Testament, it is speaking of hope or trust that is more than just wish or desire, but an expectation which is reality. Especially when the word is used in reference to God or Christ it is a reality that will be met. There is no question in the author’s mind that the Lord will provide that which He has promised to provide.

Conclusion

The word elpizo is found throughout Greek writings, and especially in the Old and New Testament Greek writings. This word can range in meaning from a hope to an expectation, and can even be used in reference to fear. In the Classical data there are examples of the word being used in reference to confidence, and not just a mere wish or desire. The word is used to translate words in the Old Testament Septuagint that are not just a desire or wish, but many times as an expectation in the Lord. It is used mainly in the Psalms which are written as the song book of the nation of Israel. This usage points to the Person’s character in whom the trust or confidence has been placed. There is no doubt in God’s faithfulness when the author’s used this word to translate the Hebrew into Greek. Another evidence for the reality of the hope or expectation is the usage in the New Testament often points to God or the Lord, and uses their faithfulness to back the expectation. When the author uses the word in reference to hoping to see the people who they are writing to, they are not merely showing a desire, but I believe expecting in their hearts to see them soon.

Praying For You

Oftentimes when we say, “I am praying for you” it ends at that. We know we should pray for other believers, and we have good intentions to pray for them, however, it never happens. No matter what your spouse may tell you, good intentions never help anyone.

So how do we pray for other believers? A great example of how to pray for brothers and sisters in Christ is found in the Apostle Paul. In Ephesians 1:15-16, we see the fact that Paul prayed for the believers at Ephesus, and then we see what he prayed for them in Eph. 1:17-19.

Ephesians 1:15-16, “Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers.” Paul played a part in the start of the church in Ephesus, but was run out by greedy craftsmen. After Paul received word of the Ephesians faith in the Lord, and love for other brothers and sisters in Christ he tells them that he has not stopped giving thanks for them. However, he was not just thankful for them, but also brought them, and their needs before the Lord often.

As Christians we are a part of the body of Christ, but when we pray we are often more concerned with this body of me. We can be so selfish in our prayers only concerned with what God is doing in our lives, and what we still want Him to do that we never stop to praise God for His work in others or intercede on the behalf of others.

Paul, with all the persecution and tribulations he faced realized the need for unity in regards to prayer in the body of Christ. He was thankful for their faith and love, and truly cared for the needs of that local church in Ephesus.

Many churches have prayer lists, but how often do you and I truly pray for others? How often do we stop and thank God for the faith and love of another brother and sister in Christ? I wrote on making prayer a priority, but we must also have the right focus with our prayer. How can I pray for the needs of others? How do I pray for those who do not have known physical requests?

Ephesians 1:17-19, “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power.” Paul gave thanks for the Ephesians, but prayed for them on a spiritual level. Many times when we pray for others, it is strictly for their physical needs. Although physical needs are important, even more important are their spiritual needs.

Paul prayed for the believers that God would give the Ephesian believers wisdom and understanding in their knowledge of Him. He wanted the Ephesians to understand Who God was, and what He had done for them. He wanted this knowledge of God to result in them knowing the hope of their calling. There is great hope in knowing that your born again, and one day you will be with the Lord in glory.

Paul also wanted the Ephesians to have an understanding of God so that they would know the great riches that are given to believers as an inheritance. He spends much of the first chapter expounding on those riches.

Finally, Paul wanted the Ephesians to know the GREAT power of God to those that believe in Him. He desired for the Ephesians to see God at work in their lives. Do you desire this for others? Is it your hearts desire to truly pray for others? We can all learn from Paul’s many examples of praying for others.

Book Review: Long Before Luther

Long Before Luther — setting the records straight.

As a student of the Bible, and constantly seeking for the truth that it reveals, it is vital that I am able to be pointed to men, who believed that salvation is by grace through faith apart from works in Church History before the Reformation. When studying the Bible one does not seek for originality, but rather the truth.

The Catholic Church for years has been calling Luther, and the Reformers heretics, and propagating the idea that they created the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith. Nathan Busenitz sets the record straight that even before the Reformation, and long before Luther was around the Church fathers believed in salvation by grace through faith.

Nathan Busenitz shows both sides of the argument, and even reveals those that have been on one side of the argument, and have changed sides. He very heavily sites the early Church fathers, and reveals how this points to the fact that Luther did not create the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith. He cites Church fathers that very clearly believed in forensic justification, and shows how the Catholic church has confused justification, and sanctification for many centuries.

This book is a must have read for any student of the Bible, and Church history. It is written in a way that even those without an extensive background in Church history can understand it. If you are struggling with this or just simply want a good read on what was believed before Martin Luther, I recommend this book to you. I would give this book a 4.5/5.

WHERE TO BUY THIS BOOK: https://www.amazon.com/Long-Before-Luther-Tracing-Reformation-ebook/dp/B06XK5N28D/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1519835817&sr=8-1&keywords=long+before+luther

BIBLIOGRAPHY OF THIS BOOK: Busenitz, Nathan. Long Before Luther: Tracing the Heart of the Gospel from Christ to the Reformation. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2017.

DISCLOSURE OF THIS MATERIAL: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Moody Publishers, in exchange for an honest, though not necessarily positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Comfort from the God of all Comfort

5 books that have changed my life

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”

God is not only a God of mercy, but He is also the God of all comfort. (paraklesis– comfort encouragement — Genitive of Source) The Greek usage of the Genitive of Source reveals that God is the originator or source of all comfort. Without God, there is no comfort!

People in the world today claim there is no God (Psalm 53) because they only see pain, suffering, disease, and death, but God is not the source of this. Sin is the source of pain, suffering, disease, and death, but God is the source of comfort.

God is faithful to comfort us in all our tribulations (thlipsis– trouble, distress, affliction) that we would be able to comfort others that have their own tribulations. We are to comfort others through (by means of) the comfort we have been given. We have a responsibility according to Paul to comfort others with the comfort we have been given.

So often we just think of God as being a comforting God, but in all reality, He is THE Source of all comfort. Without Him is no comfort. Our God knows how to comfort His children!

Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, blesses God for his mercy and His comfort. If you are a Christian, you too should bless God for His comfort. Why? Because Paul is clear in stating that God comforts us in all the tribulations (distresses) that we face. Christian, you never have to face a tribulation, whether that be the loss of a loved one, loss of a job, physical problems, or financial woes, alone. God is always there to comfort you, and another name for the Holy Spirit is the Comforter.

Christians should not stop with simply blessing God for His comfort, but we should pass that comfort on to others. In our passage, the main reason God comforts believers is so that they may, in turn, comfort others. There may be someone in your life today, that is struggling with something the Lord has comforted you in and brought you through. You have a responsibility to share that comfort with others. The main way you can do that is by prayer. It is comforting to know that others are praying for you, and in 2 Corinthians 1:11, Paul thanks the Corinthians for praying for his ministry. Do you intercede on behalf of others? You can be a comfort today to someone, but will you give what has been given to you?

Boldness to Speak

Some of the last recorded words that we have from our Lord Jesus Christ before He ascended into heaven are found in Matthew 28:18-20, “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” This passage of Scripture is commonly referred to as the Great Commission. We are to go spread the Gospel to our immediate area, our surrounding areas, as well as abroad, even to our “Samaria” or places we may have animosity towards. (Acts 1:8)

            In the same verse, Acts 1:8, we read the words, “But ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. As Christians, the moment of our conversion to Christ we have received the Holy Spirit. We read about the Apostles, and the boldness and power they had when sharing the Gospel, but we wonder why we do not experience this boldness in our own witnessing. I am convinced that boldness in sharing the Gospel comes as a result of our faithfulness in witnessing! Rather than lifestyle evangelism, why don’t we make evangelism a lifestyle? The Apostles did, and we as Christians ought to as well.

            Too often as Christians we plan a day on the calendar in which we will go door-to-door, or we have a weekly day where we go and witness. I have often found myself on the day I am to go soul-winning feeling nervous and uncomfortable. This should not be the case! If we as Christians were to live the Gospel, it would not be uncomfortable for us to share with others. A friend of mine asked, “Christians say the most important moment of their life was their salvation, then why do we not talk about it?” In Romans 1:16 we read, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” Paul often spoke about the Gospel; and the Holy Spirit moved Paul to write the inspired words of Romans and 1 Corinthians where the Gospel is very clearly presented.

            We do not live in the Apostolic age, and the times in which we live are very secularized, but people are searching answers to life. We have the answer, yet we are oftentimes to afraid to share the hope that we have. However, even in the times in which we live Jesus message still holds true, “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.” (John 4:35) As humans we often make up excuses in our minds why we should not go soul-winning, such as, “No one will listen to me,” or “I don’t know what to say.” Too often we allow ourselves to be talked out of sharing the Gospel. We want to have the results the Apostles had, “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” (Acts 2:47) We would like to see people come to know Christ as their Savior, and the church growing, but we do not want to put forth the effort, or go through the persecution that accompanies these results.

            Proverbs 11:30 reads, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.” It is a wise thing to seek to win souls, but how do we get the boldness to witness? The boldness comes as we seek God in prayer and in His Word, but also as we are faithful, day by day in sharing our faith with others. When we step out of our homes we come into contact with many different people, whether at stores, restaurants, or work, but do you take the time to share with those individuals the hope you have in Christ? We should not be timid or afraid because 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear (timidity); but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Meditate on this verse, maybe you don’t have a sound mind when you witness. Sometimes I feel as though I babble on and on when I witness, but the Holy Spirit can still work through us. As we study God’s Word we will develop a sound mind while sharing the Gospel. As we better understand the Gospel, we can better share that with others.

            We think of soul-winning as something only the spiritual people can do, but we are all to be growing in our walk with the Lord, and therefore, we should all be seeking to be that spiritual person. People are dying in their sin and going to Hell, and we know the way to help them, but too often we fear telling them how to be freed from sin and Hell. As we are seek God in prayer we will develop a love for the unsaved, and we will begin to see them as God sees them. God is not willing that any sinner would die in their sins, but faith comes by hearing the Word of God. If we do not reveal what God’s Word says, then they will not be freed from sin. Do you want to have boldness in witnessing? Be faithful in soul-winning, day by day, make it a lifestyle rather than just something that is done on the weekends, and the discomfort and fear will subside. God wants to use every believer to share the Gospel, we are commanded too, but He will only use those willing to go and share His truths.

Humility

  humility                     “Humility is the proper estimate of oneself.” –Charles Spurgeon

In Luke 18:9-14, we find the parable of the Publican and the Pharisee. Prior to this parable, Jesus has just given the parable of the widow and the unjust judge. He gave the parable of the unjust judge, to teach “that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.” After He gave this parable the Bible records why He gave the parable of the Publican and the Pharisee. This passage reveals a few truths about this passage: the people addressed, the Pharisee adjudged, the publican approved.

Luke 18:9 records, “And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others.” Jesus was giving this parable to those that trusted in their own righteousness or works, and how well they had kept the Law. These people were relying on their own good works in order to be saved from eternal punishment. These people not only trusted in their own righteousness, but they despised or hated others who they thought were not as righteous as they were. It is very clear throughout Scripture that any righteousness we have attained cannot save us from eternal damnation. Titus 3:5 states, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” The Bible also says in II Corinthians 5:21, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin: that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” Jesus died, that we could have His righteousness imputed to our account.

Luke 18:10-12 records, “Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.” In these verses, we see the Pharisee adjudged. The Pharisee was judging the publican in his prayer. He was not genuinely thanking God for keeping him from sin, but bragging on himself. According to his prayer, he had not committed any wickedly horrible sins, but he did have pride in his life. Pride is an often overlooked sin in the lives of Christians, but Proverbs 6:16-17 state, “These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood.” God is holy, and therefore hates sin, and pride is a sin. He was also boasting to the Lord of all the good works he had done. If we aren’t careful we can tell God all the great things we have done, rather than be thankful for the great things He does in and through us. Isaiah 64:6 says, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” We cannot do anything for God that He needs from us. God wants to use us, but He does not need us. James 4:6 records, “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” God resists the proud, Jesus many times condemned the Pharisees for their pride and self-righteousness. Any righteousness we may have, comes only from Jesus Christ, and Him humbling Himself to come to us, and to die for our sins.

Luke 18:13-14 records, “And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” Finally, these verses show the publican approved. A couple things are revealed to us of this unnamed publican, he was humble, and he was justified by faith. Humility is a modest or low view of one’s own importance. This does not mean that we are not valuable to God; He proved we are valuable in that He sent His Son to die for our sins, but rather that God does not need us to fulfill His will. Humility is also realizing our need of God because He created us, and knows our frame, that we are but dust. The publican realized that he was nothing more than a sinner, but the publican also went home that day justified. Rather than his own righteousness, he had the righteousness of God imputed (put on his account) to him. Psalm 138:6 states, “Though the Lord be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off.” This parable can apply to both the saved and the unsaved. If you are unsaved you must realize that you are just a sinner, and come to the Lord. If you have been saved, then when you pray, you must also come humbly before the Lord, and in faith. As we come to Him humbly, He will hear our prayers, answer them according to His will, and give the daily grace necessary in your life.