Doing Justice and Preaching Grace

One of the books I am reading this summer is Evangelism: Doing Justice and Preaching Grace by Harvie Conn. I had to buy the book used as it seemingly is no longer published. The author taught at Westminster in Philly for several years and went to be with the Lord in 1999. He covers a lot of ground fast, or rather concisely. Discussing barriers to our evangelism he writes....

Racism is a part of the mythology that inhibits our message. Not the white hooded kind that burns crosses on lawns, but the sophisticated variety that runs in culture shock from a changing neighborhood to the mission compound security of the suburbs....
Writing on pastoral care (aka Listening) he quotes Bonhoeffer....
The first service that one owes to others consists in listening to them. Many people are looking for an ear that will listen. They do not find it among Christians, because these Christians have forgotten the ministry that listening has been committed to them by Him who is Himself the great listener and whose work they would share. We would listen with teh ears of God that we may speak the Word of God.
This time his own words...
Without a pastoral dimension the offense of the gospel too easily is understood as the offensiveness of the church. The unchurched have no perception of a loving God who accepts persons while they are yet sinners.


How to Preach a Good Sermon by J. Ligon Duncan

Abstract from the PCRT (cheers to Isadore)
He gave us a list of 12 things and elaborated on them. It wasn't a 'how to' message but more like a 'what am I doing?' teaching session. The 12 points were these:
1. Know what a sermon is and what you are trying to do.
2. Have confidence in the word of God. Under this heading, he gave us
ten points.

a. The Bible is God's own word to us. It is more than a human book (1
Thess. 2:13).
b. The Bible is God-breathed, God's words exhaled to us.
It is like feeling
His very breath on our ears 2 Tim. 3:16).
c. The
Bible is written under the direction of God's Holy Spirit (2 Pet.
John 14:25-26; John 16:12-13).
d. The Bible is God's instruction to us on
how we are to live this life
(Psalm 119:105). e. The Bible teaches the way
of salvation. f. The Bible is
indespensible (Matt. 4).
g. The Bible was
given to equip Christians to live the Christian life (2
Tim.3:16-17; John
17:17). h. The Bible is not a dead letter, but an active
living force in our
lives (Heb.4:12-13).
i. The Bible's message is clear because God is a good
communicator (Deut.
j. The Bible's truth is eternally enduring.
3. Listen to great preaching.
4. Choose your models, but carefully.
5.Know the Bible better.
6. Be a man of prayer.
7. Preach Christ and the cross as you preach the whole counsel of God.
8. Be Trinitarian.
9. Use your imagination to get people into the Word, not to entertain.
10. Speak much of sin and grace.
11. Use the plain style.
12. Love your people.


How to Listen to a Bad Sermon

A beautiful abstract from my friend Dan Isadore, who is a CCO worker at Thiel College and a youth pastor at a PCUSA church there, on Ligon Duncan's sermon on listening to a poor sermon. Though I have some serious concerns with point 2 - is every preacher God's spokesperson? I am thinking of liberal pastors, women elders, priests and bad preaching (people who talk about their soap boxes and hobby horses instead of the gospel)

6 points for this one...
1.We need to take stock of our attitude when listening to sermons. We need to listen as if our lives depended on it, which they do.
2. Remember who is speaking to you. It is God talking.
3. Remember what the Bible and life are all about.
4. Remember who we are: simultaneously sinners and children of God.
5. Prepare to hear the word.
6. Commit yourself to self application by asking what the passage teaches you about the one true God, by constantly focusing on the person, power and work of Jesus Christ, by searching your own hearts and finding your own sin rather than others, and by recognizing how the word is to touch your wills, minds and desires.


A Note on Bible Translations

Recently in Hebrew class, a student asked Dr. Duguid on picking Bible translations to preach from and how to way in "word for word accuracy" like the New American Standard, and the dynamical translations of the 2oth and 21st century?

I have been wondering the same thing lately as I bought the Holman Christian Standard Version for $10, since then I am doing some sort of mild comparison to the ESV. Duguid said that when he was in Libya he preached from a Bible with an 850 word vocabulary, something that he would not do here. Because the Liberians do not know English well and he did not want to confuse them. His preaching style was similar in that context as well (a major proof that it is a huge plus if you know the indigenous language). But for biblical students, why not use the NASB as it captures the Hebrew and Greek idioms and captures the choppiness of a direct translation, it reveals that we need something more. What do you need in the context you are in? Are you in Libya, are you in the theological classroom? Or are you in the pulpit Sunday morning preaching to a crowd of infants and youth, college students, parents, singles, old saints, the unconverted - what version are you going to use there where people can understand what is going on in the Scriptures?

What should one use in their devotions? Are you a student of the Scriptures who knows the Hebrew and Geek idioms, why not use the New American Standard. Are you a new believer who is seeking to understand words like imputation and justification? Bit more tricky, but try the English Standard Version, clear, concise, readable yet keeping with the rich heritage of the reformation.