Sunday, January 30, 2011

Part 2-Is preaching still necessary?

Friday on the blog I took a brief look at expositional preaching. Mainly defining what expositional preaching is in the first place and then raising the question as to whether or not it is necessary for the church today. The best place to start answering this question is by taking a look at the Scriptures themselves.

In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus is seen preaching throughout all of Galilee (Matt. 4:23). In the gospel of Luke, we see Jesus sending out the apostles to go and preach (Luke 9:6). In the book of Acts, Peter and John return to Jerusalem preaching the gospel in many villages (Acts 8:25). Paul is seen preaching throughout his missionary journeys. The examples could continue to go on as men of God are seen throughout Scripture proclaiming the gospel truth.

In regards to signs and wonders, is there inherently anything wrong with them? No, but signs and wonders are always seen pointing to the message of Jesus, not replacing the message. I fear that many groups have replaced the message of Jesus in pursuits of the signs and wonders of Jesus.

In regards to certain emerging types, is there anything wrong with having an open round table discussion? No, I have a small group over at my house every Sunday night and believe it is beneficial to study the Scriptures together. But I have to agree with John Piper here who says, "Preaching is not conversation. Preaching is not discussion. Preaching is not casual talk about religious things. Preaching is not simply teaching." Rather, "Preaching is the heralding of a message permeated by the sense of God's greatness and majesty and holiness."

In regards to those who see preaching as a true and essential mark of the church, is it really necessary? My answer is absolutely yes! Although I only used New Testament examples, preaching is seen from Genesis to Revelation and if your church gets away from preaching then it inevitably replaces it with something that is other than the message that Jesus proclaimed.

This is recognizably a brief look at preaching today, but I do not believe this is an issue that is really open to discussion as far as to whether to preach or not to preach. Mark Driscoll points out that "The question is not, will there be preaching, but what will be preached." But that is another issue for another post. The purpose of this post is to primarily generate the thought process behind preaching and to hopefully encourage those of my friends who are substituting it with something else to get back to the place of preaching, and expositional preaching at that. Any thoughts? Agree or disagree?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Is preaching still necessary?

This semester at school I am taking Biblical Exposition, which has got me thinking about preaching in general and whether it is necessary for the church today. First, some of you are probably wondering what the heck "Expositional Preaching" is to begin with. Biblical Exposition would be the way in which one delivers the sermon. Mark Dever says, "Expositional preaching is not simply producing a verbal commentary on some passage of Scripture. Rather, it is preaching which takes for the point of a sermon the point of a particular passage of Scripture."

So, the question remains, is preaching really necessary today? Many today have neglected preaching in the church instead for something else. Some have substituted preaching instead to seek more signs and wonders. Some of the emerging types have substituted preaching for an open round table discussion, where there is really no "truth" but all options are viable as long as it is considered in love. Then you have others, such as Mark Dever, who believe that Expositional Preaching is the first sign of a healthy church and that if you miss that mark then you are likely to miss all the others. So, who is right? Do we see preaching as we think about it practiced in Scripture? Did Jesus preach amongst all the signs and wonders? My plan is to answer this question and explore it in more detail in the next post, but for now feel free to jump in with your stance and the reason behind it.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

In Constant Need of Grace

During the past couple of months at church and in our small group our series has been the "Search For A KING" as we have been studying 1&2 Samuel by looking at the life of David, King of Israel. Up to this point in the series, David has been mainly seen as the amazing king that Israel was searching for, living up to the title of Messiah, with some minor ups and downs. David is even known as "a man after God's own heart."

This week, however, will not be the case as 2 Samuel 11-12 describes the fall of King David into adultery and murder. This represents a different side in David's life where he has sinned before God, been judged for sin, and in need of salvation himself. Although according to the Old Testament Law, David deserved death for his sin, that is not the picture that we see happening. Even in the midst of adultery and murder, the Lord offers forgiveness and redemption for David.

This passage causes me to have a few different reflections. The most obvious of these is that David's life, as great as it is, only prefigures that of Christ. First, no matter how great an individual may seem or be anointed by God, they are still in need of a savior themselves that can only be fulfilled in the person and work of Christ. Second, just as David was given a high position of leadership and praised in the public eye before failing, we see this daily where we often put our hope and trust in an individual, only to have our faith shaken in their failure. David's life serves as a reminder that no matter how great the life of an individual, they will always let us down in their failure. That is why it is important not to allow your faith be based on an individual, other then that of Christ.

David's life reminds us that we are constantly in need of the grace and love of God. It is not a one time thing, but a daily thing that we are in need of. We have never "arrived" and the moment that we begin to think this is when we show that need. In the life of David this happened as he continued to fall further into sin, ignoring to acknowledge it before God, neglecting his need. Please feel free to share any thought on grace here or maybe an example of how this has looked in your own life.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Signs of God's Grace

Yesterday the Summit's North Raleigh campus pastor, Daniel Simmons, preached on four signs of God's grace from Acts 11:19-30. I believe these are worth sharing as we enter the new year and take a look at our own life. The questions that follow are the ones that I asked my small group last night and I encourage you to think through these as you start 2011.

Sign one, God's hand will be on it. In order to be successful at whatever it is you are doing then God's hand must be on it. Specifically in a missional setting this is something you seek in prayer and going after places where you see God working. What are the ways in which you can seek this?

Sign Two, Jesus will be preached. Without Christ and the Cross then you have no Christianity, you are merely left with another meaningless religion. What are ways that Jesus can daily be practically preached through your life?

Sign Three, People will be reached that are different from you. The gospel is for all people everywhere. Contrary to the idea that it is a Western religion, which isn't even possible considering it did not start here. This is one area that the church in the US has struggled with as the most segregated hour in the week is on Sunday mornings, but it is not where we have to stay. What are you doing intentionally to reach people that are different from you? And, what ways can you improve on reaching others?

Sign Four, Self-less giving and sacrifice. In order to become a missional community then it will require self-less giving and sacrifice. This comes in many forms from the giving of finances to the giving of time. Lead teaching pastor at the Summit, J.D. Greear, describes this best in saying, "It is giving up something you love, for something you love even more." What are ways that you can be self-less in your giving and sacrifice this year?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Love the City

Sitting in downtown Raleigh at independent coffee shop, Morning Times, I cannot help but look around and observe the people, the setting, the culture. People watching is something I do often for a couple reasons. First, it is one of the only free things that I truly enjoy. Second, it gives some insight to individuals, where they are in life, their dreams, passions, and to what moves them.

Today specifically I am reflecting on "why I love the city", which I am referring to particularly downtown. Downtown is where there are people, where trends are set, and culture is made. In downtown Raleigh I see creativity through art, independent coffee shops, music, fashion, etc. All of these things combined help make up culture, which reflects RDU at large, but Raleigh in particular is a culture setting hub for the Southeast. As a random side note, here is what I am currently observing: apple computers, skinny jeans, boots, artist, writers, thick rimmed glasses, a guy looking at me writing as I look at him and write, books, buses, etc.

I love all of these aspects about the city, but also wonder what would happen if our churches put more emphasis on the city. I am not suggesting that all of our buildings we call churches move in to downtown ignoring the rest of the population, but what if most of our church planting efforts were where the people are, where creativity happens, and where culture is made. Considering Raleigh culture influences the entire Southeast, it would be detrimental for us to ignore the city when what happens here will inevitably spread throughout the Southeast and perhaps beyond.

I suggest we turn to the life of David in 2 Samuel 5:6-10 as our example. David, along with his army, reclaimed the city of Jerusalem as God's city, which became the strategic center of mission for the people of God. We as the church should be building a city within the city that is the church where we are the culture shapers of society by which we reclaim the cities as God's cities.