Archives For Preaching

Garrett Swasey was the officer killed trying to rescue people at a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs. Swasey was shot while saving people at a place he abhorred. He was an elder of a church that believed in the inerrancy of Scripture, and that abortion is evil.

Let that sink in.

A man who hated abortion and hated murder–who gave his life helping others–didn’t hesitate about going to Planned Parenthood to save lives.

Garrett Swasey was also a preacher. He was an elder at Hope Chapel in Colorado Springs.

garrett Swasey

In his last sermon (you can listen to the whole thing here), he encourages his congregation to consider Christ and the Gospel. He seems to be a pretty humorous guy, with a low view of himself and a high view of Jesus. But one thing he said in his last sermon stuck out to me. He said he never seemed to be quoted on the things that he’d like, but he always got quoted on the things he said that he didn’t like (every preacher probably knows exactly what he means by that).

Well, in honor of his heroic effort and our common love of Christ, I’d like to honor the Lord by quoting things Swasey said in his last sermon. I hope they bless you as they have me.

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Don't Miss the Forest for the TreesSome time ago I wrote an as-condensed-as-possible version of the great story of redemption, tracing God’s gracious promise to provide the seed of the woman to crush the head of the serpent through the Old Testament. I examined how that promise narrowed from the seed of the woman, to the seed of Abraham, to the nation of Israel, and to the line of David. We saw how Israel’s repeated failure to be faithful to the covenants Yahweh established with them all pointed to the One who would exemplify covenant faithfulness and fulfill all righteousness on behalf of His people. To put it another way, contrary to what some believe about dispensationalists and the Old Testament, we observed how the whole of the Old Testament finds its climax and fulfillment in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, the seed of the woman, the seed of Abraham, the Israelite par-excellence, and the Son of David. If you’ve not read that post, I’d encourage you to do so.

I mentioned in that post that a great help for interpreting the Bible properly consists in keeping that big picture in the front of our mind so that we can interpret the parts in light of the whole. We don’t want to miss the forest for the trees. This is especially helpful in the Old Testament, where the increased historical, cultural, geographical, literary, and even covenantal gaps can make us raise our eyebrows at not a few passages, which just seem wholly unfamiliar.

Now, we need to be sure that we interpret each passage on its own terms, according to its context, always in search of the intent of the original author. But keeping this grand narrative of redemptive history in mind and locating at what point in the story of redemption that a particular passage finds itself, can often help us understand why some more obscure (or at least, seemingly-removed) passages are in the Bible. Passages that look like road blocks or obstacles in our Bible-reading plans can be transformed (at least in our perception, anyway) by relating them to the larger story of redemptive history.

Today I’d like to just share a few examples.

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Rom. 1:16-32, 1 Cor. 6:9-11, and Jude 3-25

A Biblical Perspective on the SCOTUS decision

flag america and christianAfter Friday’s landmark SCOTUS decision many shepherds felt compelled to imitate the example of Jude.  Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.  For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ (Jude 3-4).  Following in Jude’s footsteps I decided to take a week off from my regular expositional series through the gospel of John in order to address the Supreme Court’s nation changing decision.

These are dark times, there’s no denying it!”  In our own backyard my family hears beautiful hymns of the faith played on traditional church bells from only a block away.  We often hear great gospel songs like “the Old Rugged Cross” and “Amazing Grace.”  Yet when anyone drives by this same church they quickly observe a flashing “Gay Pride” rainbow flag that is proudly displayed on St.John’s digital billboard.  St. John Church of Christ wants everyone in Freeport to know that they are leading the way in the “Open and Affirming” church movement that is sweeping through our nation like wildfire.  Dr. Dutcher strongly believes that Lord himself wants every church, not just his own congregation, to join him in this progressive crusade.  They are certainly not alone in this!  Just like week Pastor Tony Campolo issued a statement saying he now “fully supports same sex marriage.”  Add to that, a recent article on Reuters which reports that close to 35% percent of “professing Evangelicals” now support gay marriage. That number represents a sixteen percent increase over a time span of just three years (though around 45% of the nation still believes homosexuality is a sin).

I do not know what it is like where you live but in our “conservative” city the local newspaper has provided Dr. Dutcher with free advertisement more times than I can count.  How is it, that one liberal pastor is given so much press coverage so he repeatedly promote his own religious and personal convictions?  St John’s “Unity Fest” for example was spotlighted three times in the month of June alone.  In sharp contrast, the congregation that I pastor is celebrating its 170th anniversary of ministry in Freeport on July 1st. We did not even receive one write up.  For all the talk about “dialogue” and “free speech” very few media outlets have given equal opportunities so that both sides can express their viewpoints concerning this controversial subject.  That’s strange seeing only 3.8% of Americans identify themselves as LGBT (per Gallup).

Needles to say, the moral trajectory of our nation is quite troubling.  I make this assertion on the authority of Scripture.  The goal of this article is to evaluate last week’s landmark Supreme Court decision from a biblical perspective.  As you have no doubt observed everyone these days has an opinion but only Being’s point of view truly matters. Continue Reading…

we'll seeOne of the more amazing things about God’s redemptive plan for the world is that he uses human beings to further it. Even more amazing is that he uses men. And still more amazing is that he often uses young men. Truly all the applause for redemptive history rises to God.

Young men are often raised up by God to take the baton in various ways to faithfully follow previous generations. One of those ways in the privileged and sacred task of feeding Christ’s flock through biblical preaching.

However, as you read Scripture and spend time ministering to God’s people, one thing becomes clear: it is not always easy for people to readily receive the ministry of a young man. A young preacher’s hearers sometimes need help.

Why? Like a young tree, it remains to be seen if we will endure the elements. We have yet to establish the bond of trust with the congregation which often takes years. We may not have the much-needed seasoning of sanctification. Our lives lack the testing and refining brought by the sovereignty of God over time. Younger preachers often have fewer years in the necessary school of suffering. Simply because we have not lived long, we have not been as sanctified, tested, and tamed through struggle. Our doctrinal beliefs, convictions, and philosophy of ministry have been tested by little more than red ink and like-minded friends. It’s easier when we’re green to march up to the pulpit and confidently proclaim our convictions. It’s quite another thing having done so through a measure of blood, sweat, and tears. We’ve yet to personally feel the pounding resistance of the world, the flesh, and the devil against long-held biblical convictions. For those reasons, and more, there can be an understandable hesitancy towards younger pastors. And we fledgling preachers need not resent that, but humbly do our part to assist in our audience’s receptivity and help our hearers.

By “help our hearers,” I mean doing what we can, as younger and less experienced preachers, to be as useful of an instrument as possible in Christ’s hands to bring his transforming power to the congregation.

Here are a few ways that younger preachers can help their hearers:

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200408-omag-hungry-600x411It usually happens like this: a married couple or an individual shows up at church. They are struggling relationally or spiritually. At some point they say, “I have been attending so-and-so church for several years, but something does not feel right. We know that the Bible says we should be growing spiritually, and we have tried lots of things, but I go away feeling empty. And my [unbelieving] husband even recognizes it.” After many questions, it becomes clear that they have little to no understanding of God, themselves, sin, Christ, and how it all applies to their lives. Very often, it’s because their ears have been tickled. They have been pandered from the pulpit.

Pander: “to provide what someone wants or demands even though it is not proper, good, or reasonable” (Merriam-Webster).

I imagine that these individuals have sat under preaching similar to a kind I heard recently. The pastor approached a somewhat controversial and very important text. He opened by saying that just about any interpretation of the passage is fine, and one cannot really say that this or that view is correct. After reading some of the passage and skipping over other parts, he began to describe his personal ministry experiences which argued against the clear meaning of the text. On the basis of personal sentiment, it was described that the passage could not mean what it said. In so many words, he excused and apologized for the text like one might do for an embarrassing uncle at a Christmas party. The preaching continued around the text without the text being preached.

This is one of the many forms of pulpit-pandering. But I’ve wondered about the long-term effects of this approach to preaching the word of God. What might happen to people as they sit under this all-too-common occurrence week after week? To be sure, it will not be without consequence.

Here are a few perils that can result from pulpit-pandering:

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WhitefieldThis week, I came across a remarkable sermon from George Whitefield, entitled, “The Eternity of Hell-Torments,” which he preached in London in 1738. When the reality of the fate of those who perish in this life without Christ is again pressed upon one’s conscience, it always seems like a burden too great to bear. But, as Whitefield would say in the sermon, “If the bare mentioning the torments of the damned is so shocking, how terrible must the enduring of them be!” Truly this is the most solemn of subjects. But we as Christians — as preachers of the Gospel of Christ — we must give our minds and hearts to the biblical teaching of the unbeliever’s fate. And Whitefield has done us an excellent service. You can read the sermon in full here, but I wanted to highlight his conclusion today on Cripplegate.

As a preacher, it was instructive for me to observe the way Whitefield pled with his hearers to flee from the wrath to come. He was not content to simply parrot out a few stock phrases that summarized the content of the Gospel, and give an “invitation.” No, he reasoned with his hearers. He considered what objections their sinful hearts may have concocted in their own spirits as they were listening, and he did his best to respond to those objections. He loved these people enough to get inside their heads, to trace out the probable outworkings of their unregenerate affections, and to leave them no room to think or feel the way they had been when they came in. This is the kind of penetrating, heart-searching application I aim for in my own preaching — not because my hope is to be like Whitefield for his sake, but because my hope is to love my people the way Whitefield loved his, and the way Christ loved His. This is the way that I want to preach the Gospel in my sermons.

But beyond observing a good homiletical example, this sermon penetrated my own heart, just as a fellow-sinner in need of the grace of God, and as a Christian who proposes to be in the ministry of rescuing souls from hell through the preaching of the Gospel. To be reminded of the eternal torments of hell is, in the true sense of the word, awful. But it is so necessary, in order to shake my soul from the complacency wherein I am too often found. I don’t want the miseries of hell; I want the joys of seeing and loving Christ in heaven! Sermons like this — and Gospel-appeals like this — urge me to renew my resolve to fight sin in my life, “lest,” in the words of the great apostle, “that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (1 Cor 9:27). And I don’t want the miseries of hell for those whom God has providentially placed in my path, either. Sermons like this urge me to renew my resolve to be intentional in proclaiming the Gospel to the people around me, lest I fail to be a God-glorifying watchman (cf. Ezek 3:17-21). I pray you’re benefited by Whitefield.

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Note: I posted this yesterday on Preachers and Preachingthe new blog of The Master’s Seminary. I’ve duplicated it here at the Cripplegate, to make sure as many people as possible know about the resources available from the Summit on Biblical Inerrancy.


It’s hard to believe the 2015 Summit on Biblical Inerrancy is over. With 16 guest speakers and 18 general sessions, it was a power-packed week celebrating our common commitment to the absolute truth of God’s Word.

In case you missed any of general sessions, you can find summaries of each session below. Videos for the sessions can be found here and also here.

In session 1, John MacArthur opened the conference by listing four reasons why a summit on biblical inerrancy is needed. Those who love God and His Word are called to defend it. Click here for a full summary.

In session 2, Alistair Begg exposited 2 Tim. 4:1-5, emphasizing the divine charge to preach the Word in the midst of a culture that does not want to hear the truth. Click here for a full summary.  Continue Reading…

This is the final part of a three-part blog series where we asked Dr. Steven J. Lawson some questions about expository preaching, current issues facing evangelicals today and Expositor magazine.

ExpositorWhat exactly is Expositor?

Expositor is a ministry of OnePassion Ministries, which is a work I have founded to encourage and equip pastors in biblical preaching. It is a magazine that comes out every other month and is approximately 50 pages in each issue. I have asked many of the leading expositors around the world to contribute articles based around a central theme that each issue has. The first issue was on The Inerrancy of Scripture and Expository Preaching. The second issue was on The Glory of God and Preaching. The third issue was on Evangelism in the Pulpit. The fourth issue will be on Preaching in a Post-Modern World. Not only do I contribute an article in each issue, but so also does John MacArthur, who I believe is the premier expositor in our day. Other notable men who have written for us include R.C. Sproul, Sinclair Ferguson, Al Mohler, John Piper, Derek Thomas, and many others. We also have an extended interview with different leading expositors. For example, in our last issue, the interview was with R.C. Sproul and the focus was upon getting the gospel right. In our next issue, I interviewed Ligon Duncan regarding preaching in days such as which we find ourselves, in a post-Christian society. The goal in all of this is to raise a standard in these days that would call men back to biblical preaching.
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This is part two of a three-part blog series where we asked Dr. Steven J. Lawson some questions about expository preaching,  current issues facing evangelicals today and Expositor magazine.

What are the main challenges today facing evangelicals today?

I do not think there is a one-size fits all answer for this because so many different Christians live in different parts of the world and are being confronted with different issues. So, there is not one critical issue that is facing the average Christian in the average church. Having said that, several things do come to my mind that rise to a high level of importance.

First, the evangelical church today tends to be non-theological. In other words, so many churches and ministries want to emphasize the practical aspects of Christian living, but they neglect the doctrinal foundations of the faith. This is like attempting to build a solid house on shifting sand. I believe that churches and ministries must put first things first and lay the foundation before they would build upon it. This necessitates the teaching of sound doctrine and the general framework of systematic theology.
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LawsonThis is part one of a three-part series where we asked Dr. Steven J. Lawson some questions on expository preaching, inerrancy, current issues facing evangelicals, and more about Expositor magazine.


Define expository preaching.

There are two words in expository preaching: one is expository and the other is preaching. Expository is the adjective and preaching is the noun. Expository preaching defines a certain kind of preaching. It is the kind of preaching that is prescribed in Scripture itself. The word ‘expository’ carries the idea of explaining the meaning of a text. The word ‘preaching’ describes the manner with which this instruction and explanation is brought. Expository preaching is the kind of preaching that begins with a passage of Scripture and explains the authorial intent of that passage, while making application with exhortation to the life of the listener.
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