Category Archives: Preaching

“The hands that were pierced with the nails of the cross wield the scepter” by B.B. Warfield

“Let us fix our eyes and set our hearts today on our exalted Saviour.

Let us see Him on His throne made head over all things to His Church, with all the reins of government in His hands, ruling over the world, and all the changes and chances of time, that all things may work together for good to those that love Him.

Let us see Him through His Spirit ruling over our hearts, governing all our thoughts, guiding all our feelings, directing all our wills, that, being His, saved by His blood, we may under His unceasing control steadily work out our salvation, as He works in us both the willing and the doing, in accordance with His good pleasure.

As, in our unrighteousness, we know we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous,–or, as our own Epistle puts it, a great High Priest who has entered within the veil and ever liveth to make intercession there for us: so let us know that in our weakness we have the protecting arm of the King of kings and Lord of lords about us, and He will not let us slip, but will lose none that the Father has given Him, but will raise them up at the last day.

Having been tempted like as we are (though without sin), He is able to sympathize with us in our infirmities.

Having suffered as we do, He knows how to support us in our trials.

And having opened a way in His own blood leading to life, He knows how to conduct our faltering steps that we may walk in it.

Christ our Saviour is on the throne. The hands that were pierced with the nails of the cross wield the scepter.

How can our salvation fail?”

–B.B. Warfield, “The Glorified Christ,” in The Saviour of the World (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1916/1991), 185-186. This sermon is from Hebrews 2:9.

Leave a comment

Filed under B. B. Warfield, Christian Theology, Hebrews, Jesus Christ, Preaching, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, The Gospel

“Just to be with Christ is all the heaven a believer wants” by Charles Spurgeon

“Oh, to think of heaven without Christ! It is the same thing as thinking of hell.

Heaven without Christ! It is day without the sun, existing without life, feasting without food, seeing without light. It involves a contradiction in terms.

Heaven without Christ! Absurd. It is the sea without water, the earth without its fields, the heavens without their stars. There cannot be heaven without Christ.

He is the sum total of bliss, the fountain from which heaven flows, the element of which heaven is composed. Christ is heaven and heaven is Christ. You shall change the words and make no difference in the sense.

To be where Jesus is is the highest imaginable bliss, and bliss away from Jesus is inconceivable to the child of God. If you were invited to a marriage feast, and you were yourself to be the bride, and yet the bridegroom were not there– do not tell me about feasting.

In vain they ring the bells till the church tower rocks and reels, in vain the dishes smoke and the red wine sparkles, in vain the guests shout and make merry: if the bride looks around her and sees no bridegroom, the dainties mock her sorrow and the merriment insults her misery.

Such would a Christless heaven be to the saints. If you could gather together all conceivable joys, and Christ were absent, there would be no heaven to His beloved ones. Hence it is that heaven is to be where Christ is.

And, beloved, just to be with Christ is heaven– that bare thing. That bare thing, just to be with Christ is all the heaven a believer wants.

The angels may be there or not, as they will, and the golden crowns and harps present or absent as may be, but if I am to be where Jesus is, I will find angels in His eyes, and crowns in every lock of His hair. To me the golden streets shall be my fellowship with Him, and the harpings of the harpers shall be the sound of His voice.

Only to be near Him, to be with Him– this is all we want. The apostle does not say, ‘to be in heaven, which is far better.’ No, but, ‘to be with Christ; which is far better,’ and he adds no description. He leaves the thoughts just as they are, in all their majestic simplicity. ‘To be with Christ; which is far better.’

But what is it to be with Christ, beloved? In some sense we are with Christ now, for He comes to us. We are no strangers to Him. Even while we are in this body we have communion with Jesus.

And yet it must be true that a higher fellowship is to come, for the apostle says, that while we are present in the body we are absent from the Lord.

There is a sense in which, so long as we are here, we are absent from the Lord. And one great saint used to say upon his birthday that he had been so many years in banishment from the Lord: to abide in this lowland country, so far from the ivory palaces, is a banishment at the very best.

All that we can see of Christ here is through a glass darkly. Face to face is true nearness to Him, and that we have not reached as yet.

What will it be, then, to be with Christ? Excuse me if I say it will be, first of all, exactly what it says, namely, to be with Him. I must repeat that word– it is heaven only to be with Him.

It is not merely what comes out of being with Him: His company itself is heaven.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “‘Forever with the Lord,’” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons (vol. 19; London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1873), 19: 570–572.

Leave a comment

Filed under Charles Spurgeon, Christian Theology, Glorification, Glory of Christ, Heaven, Jesus Christ, Preaching, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, The Gospel, Union with Christ, Worship

“Sharing the Light together” by Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430)

“I implore you all, love with me, run with me by believing. Let us long for the country up above. Let us pant and sigh for that country up above. Let us realize that we are strangers here.

What will we see then? Let the Gospel say it now: ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,’ (John 1:1).

You will come to the fountain from which you have been sprayed with dew-drops, from where a ray has been sent obliquely by roundabout ways into the darkness of your heart. You will see the naked Light itself.

You are being purified so as to see and bear it. ‘Beloved,’ says John himself, as I reminded you yesterday, ‘we are the children of God, and it has not yet appeared what we shall be; we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is,’ (1 John 3:2).

I really do sense your feelings of yearning, of eagerness, being lifted up with me to what is above. But the body which is perishable is weighing upon the soul, and this earthly dwelling is pressing down the mind filled with many thoughts.

So I too then am going to put away this copy of the Gospel. You are all going to depart as well, each to your own home. It has been good, sharing the Light together, good rejoicing in it, good exulting in it together; but when we depart from each other, let us not depart from Him.”

–Augustine of Hippo, Homilies on the Gospel of John, The Works of Saint Augustine: A Translation for the 21st Century, Trans. Edmund Hill (New York: New City Press, 2009), 550. Augustine is concluding his sermon on John 8:13-14.

Leave a comment

Filed under Augustine, Bible, Christian Theology, Jesus Christ, Preaching, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, The Gospel

“Read and re-read” by D.A. Carson

Read and re-read and re-read and re-read the biblical book. It is a mistake to choose the book and then start reading commentaries. Read the book.

Read it in English. Read it in Greek, or Hebrew, as the case may be. I’m quite flexible. Ideally, that means you should start the process of preparation in this regard a long time before. If you have time to read it only once before the first Sunday you’re going to preach it, you won’t have absorbed a great deal of it.

I knew a man in Toronto a number of years ago (he has long since gone to be with the Lord). His name was William Fitch. He was a Presbyterian minister and a very able expositor. It was his lifelong practice not to preach any part of the Word of God until he had read it in preparation for that sermon 100 times.

I’m not laying that on you as a burden or anything! Still, some of us I suspect have managed to preach on occasion from passages where we barely read it once! We’ve read the commentaries, of course.… But read the text. Read the text. Read, read, read, re-read the text.

Start the process early. Give time to re-reading and, thus, to meditation, to turning it over in your mind, to thinking about it when you’re driving your car, to waking up in the middle of the night and dreaming about it. Partly, this is because a lot of your best insights come when you’re not trying, when you’ve just flooded your mind with the Word of God, and then you begin to see the connections and how it works. You can’t force that. It’s just re-reading plus time.

That also gives you time to start collecting illustrations and bits and pieces that fit into it just from your other reading, from reading the newspaper or reading a novel or talking with your kids or something in the church that happens. Suddenly, you’ll discover, because you have allowed a little extra time in preparation, you enrich the entire process.

Having said that, I have to tell you quite frankly that sometimes I have achieved that, and quite frankly, I often haven’t because I’m just as pressured as the next bloke. I can start my preparation the week before, the same as everybody else, but ideally … ideally.… I like to start a long time in advance. I try.

That also gives you time to pray over the text. That is, to incorporate the text into your personal prayers. In much the same way I incorporated some of the prayers of Paul into personal prayers, this can be done, of course, in one way or another with all kinds of texts.

Eschew the division of head and heart. (This a more general observation but probably still worth making.) Some of us think when we are reading the Bible devotionally we are supposed to go all fluttery in the stomach and feel very spiritual and deeply meditative and highly reverent, and then when we’re doing our exegesis we can forget the reverence and just get on with the commentaries. Fight that dichotomy like the plague.

Make your detailed, analytic, careful, competent exegesis reverent and make your devotional life thoughtful and rigorous. Eschew like the plague this common division between head and heart.

That means, then, so far as your sermon preparation goes, you will simultaneously be trying to do rigorous exegesis and biblical theology and so forth while also thinking reverently and offering up this work to the Lord and wondering how it will apply to people’s lives. It will be part of a unified vision of things that is going on all the time.”

–D.A. Carson, “Preaching through Bible Books,” in D.A. Carson Sermon Library (Bellingham, WA: Faithlife, 2016).

1 Comment

Filed under Bible, Christian Theology, D.A. Carson, Jesus Christ, Preaching, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, Reading, The Gospel

“The doctrine of substitution is the key to all the sufferings of Christ” by Charles Spurgeon

“The doctrine of substitution is the key to all the sufferings of Christ. I do not know how many theories have been invented to explain away the death of Christ.

The modern doctrine of the apostles of ‘culture’ is that Jesus Christ did something or other, which, in some way or other, was, in some degree or other, connected with our salvation. But it is my firm belief that every theory, concerning the death of Christ, which can only be understood by the highly-cultured, must be false.

‘That is strong language,’ says someone. Perhaps it is, but it is true. I am quite sure that the religion of Jesus Christ was never intended for the highly-cultured only, or even for them in particular.

Christ’s testimony concerning His own ministry was, ‘The poor have the gospel preached to them.’ So, if you bring me a gospel which can only be understood by gentlemen who have passed through Oxford or Cambridge University, I know that it cannot be the gospel of Christ.

He meant the good news of salvation to be proclaimed to the poorest of the poor. In fact, the gospel is intended for humanity in general.

So, if you cannot make me understand it, or if, when I do understand it, it does not tell me how to deliver its message in such plain language that the poorest man can comprehend it, I tell you, sirs, that your newfangled gospel is a lie, and I will stick to the old one, which a man, only a little above an idiot in intellect, can understand.

I cling to the old gospel for this, among many other reasons, that all the modern gospels, that leave out the great central truth of substitution, prevent the message from being of any use to the great mass of mankind.

If those other gospels, which are not really gospels, please your taste and fancy, and suit the readers of Quarterly Reviews, and eloquent orators and lecturers, there are the poor people in our streets, and the millions of working-men, the vast multitudes who cannot comprehend anything that is highly metaphysical.

And you cannot convince me that our Lord Jesus Christ sent, as His message to the whole world, a metaphysical mystery that would need volume upon volume before it could even be stated.

I am persuaded that He gave us a rough and ready gospel like this: ‘The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost,’ or this, ‘With His stripes we are healed,’ or this, ‘The chastisement of our peace was upon Him,’ or this, ‘He died the Just for the unjust to bring us to God.’

Do not try to go beyond this gospel, brethren. You will get into the mud if you do. But it is safe standing here.

And standing here, I can comprehend how our Lord Jesus took the sinner’s place, and passing under the sentence which the sinner deserved, or under a sentence which was tantamount thereto, could cry, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?‘”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, ‘The Saddest Cry From the Cross,’ in Majesty in Misery, Volume 3: Calvary’s Mournful Mountain (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2005), 177-178. (MTPS, 48: 523-524)

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible, Charles Spurgeon, Christian Theology, Jesus Christ, Pierced For Our Transgressions, Preaching, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, salvation, The Gospel

“A prayer for preachers” by D.A. Carson

“Keep revising, praying, and preparing so it is not so much that you have mastered the material as that it has mastered you. There is a way of preaching in which you project an image of being an expert. There is a way of preaching in which you project an image of having been captured.

The latter is gained partly by continually revising, thinking through, and how you express yourself. It’s also attained by where your heart is, how greatly you think of God and of Christ and of the Gospel and how little you think of your preparation even though you’ve been so diligent at it. Let’s bow in prayer.

In truth, merciful God, we discover to our shame that we are not very consistent and we often slip and slide and become intoxicated by peripheral things. O Lord God, in the pressure on our time help us to make choices that are wise, honoring to You, for our people’s good. In the midst of counseling and caring and basic administration, remind us again and again that we are called to the ministry of the Word and prayer.

With all that means for study and preparation as well as for delivery, with all that it means for explaining the Bible to a single person, bringing the comfort of the Word to someone who is ill in the hospital or in an evangelistic group explaining your most Holy Word to people who don’t have a clue, with all that it means for sermon preparation, we confess humbly that we are, at best, unprofitable servants and that what we achieve we achieve by Your grace.

Make us, we beg of You, as holy as pardoned sinners can be this side of the consummation. Make us workers who do not need to be ashamed, rightly interpreting the Word of God. Help us so to grow in life and doctrine that others will see our progress and glorify You. Whether our charge is large or small, whether it is viewed as strategic or in some way removed from the hubbub of life, grant that our deepest concern will be for the well-being of the men and women over whom You have placed us as under-shepherds.

Grant to us the deepest desire to keep our eyes fixed on Christ Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has now sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. We bless You, Lord God, for the immense privilege of Christian ministry, and in its sorrows and hurts, give us a forbearing, forgiving spirit, a persevering grace that lives with eternity’s values in view.

In its moments of triumph and joy, help us to understand that as we work out our salvation, it is You working in us both to will and to do of Your good pleasure. As we grow in love for one another, help us to eschew every hint of the green-eyed monster so we start comparing service records and sizes of church.

Help us rather to be faithful to the One who has called us to live with eternity’s values in view, to delight in faithfulness in small things, to look forward to the approval of the Master Himself on the last day: ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in a few matters; I will make you ruler over many things.’

Have mercy on us, Your people. Teach us not only understanding but tears. Help us to rejoice with those who rejoice and to weep with those who weep, and so to show ourselves mastered by the text that our very blood will be Bibline, prick us and we bleed Scripture. This for Christ’s sake, Amen.”

–D.A. Carson, “Preaching through Bible Books,” in D.A. Carson Sermon Library (Bellingham, WA: Faithlife, 2016).

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible, Christian Theology, D.A. Carson, Elders, Jesus Christ, Preaching, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, The Gospel

“He has lavished His grace on us” by R.C. Sproul

“The true believer savors every crumb that comes from the hand of God. The good news is that in the overflow of mercy and grace that comes to us from the hands of God, even though we should be satisfied with crumbs, He is not satisfied with giving us crumbs. He has lavished His grace on us.”

–R.C. Sproul, Mark: St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary (Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust, 2011), 174.

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible, Christian Theology, grace, Jesus Christ, Preaching, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, R.C. Sproul, The Gospel