Why should you make it a life goal to get to Capernaum?

By Adam Brown –

Why should you make it a life goal to get to Capernaum?

What if you could be at the very house where Jesus. . .

  • Healed Peter’s mother-in-law (Matthew 8:14-15; Mark 1:29-31; Luke 4:38-39);
  • Liberated the demon possessed (Matthew 8:16; Mark 1:32-33; Luke 4:41);
  • Healed the sick (Matthew 8:16; Mark 1:34; Luke 4:40);
  • Forgave the paralytic who had been lowered through the roof (Matthew 9:1-8; Mark 2:1-12; Luke 5:17-26);
  • Restored sight to the two blind men (Matthew 9:27-31);
  • Cast out the demon from the mute man (Matthew 9:32-34);
  • Redefined familial relationships when His mother and brothers were at the door (Matthew 12:46-50; Mark 3:20-21, 31-35; Luke 8:19-21);
  • Sent Peter to retrieve the temple tax from the mouth of the fish in the lake (Matthew 17:24-27);
  • Privately tutored His disciples about. . .
    • (1) the kingdom of God (Matthew 13:36-52; 18:7-14; Mark 4:10-33; Luke 8:9-18);
    • (2) what it means to be great (Matthew 18:1-6; Mark 9:33-50; Luke 9:46-50);
    • (3) how to resolve conflict among themselves (Matthew 18:7-35)?

And, what if―having seen the house―you could walk two minutes down a dusty ancient street to the synagogue where Jesus. . .

  • Regularly taught (Mark 1:21-22);
  • Cast out demons (Mark 1:23-28; Luke 4:31-37);
  • Healed the man with the withered hand (Matthew 12:9-14; Mark 3:1-6; Luke 6:6-11);
  • Proclaimed that He was the bread of life (John 6:22-71)?

And, what if―having seen the house and visited the synagogue―you could double-back down the same dusty street, pass by the house, and within three minutes be on the shore of the Sea of Galilee where Jesus. . .

  • Called Peter, Andrew, James, and John to be His disciples (Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20; Luke 5:1-11);
  • Taught the parables of. . .
    • (1) the sower and the seed (Matthew 13:1-23; Mark 4:1-9; Luke 8:4-8);
    • (2) the weeds (Matthew 13:24-30);
    • (3) the mustard seed (Matthew 13:31-32; Luke 13:18-19);
    • (4) the leaven (Matthew 13:33; Luke 13:20-21)?

And, what if―having seen the house and visited the synagogue and walked on the beach―you could meander through the ruins of the town, not knowing if this place or that was where Jesus. . .

  • Retreated to pray by Himself (Mark 1:35-38; Luke 4:42-43);
  • Healed the centurion’s servant (Matthew 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-10; John 4:46-54)
  • Raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead (Matthew 9:18-19, 23-26; Mark 5:21-24, 35-43; Luke 8:40-42, 49-56);
  • Healed the woman of her bleeding disease (Matthew 9:20-22; Mark 5:25-34; Luke 8:43-48);
  • Called Levi from his tax booth to become Matthew the apostle (Matthew 9:9-13; Mark 2:13-17; Luke 5:27-32);
  • Interlocked with the Pharisees about such things as. . .
    • (1) the Sabbath (Matthew 12:1-8; Mark 2:23-28; Luke 6:1-5);
    • (2) the source of His authority (Matthew 12:24-45; Luke 11:14-36);
    • (3) the right interpretation of the Law (Luke 11:37-54);
    • (4) fasting (Mark 2:18-22; Luke 5:33-39)?

What if.

You CAN go to this place. All of this happened in Capernaum. You can see the house, the synagogue, the beach, and the ruins of the town where Jesus did all of this.

So much that we read and treasure in the Gospel happened in Capernaum. All within a few minutes walking radius.

Why wouldn’t you make it a life goal to go there, to see this sacred ground for yourself?

In my opinion, “Getting to Capernaum” should be on the very top of every Christian “bucket list.”

Who is Shepherding Your Women’s Ministry?

By Angie Brown –

This post originally appeared on The Gospel Coalition Canada.

In many churches, the women’s ministry can seem to run like a well-managed resort. Special events feature a warm welcome, excellent cuisine, choice of activities, and even a small gift to take home!

There are very capable and creative women in leadership hosting Bible studies, mom’s groups, and retreats. Yet there is a troubling trend that has emerged in many local churches. Very often women’s ministries exist on their own islands, detached from the involvement of the shepherds of the church.

While taking an island vacation with your women’s ministry may sound fun at first, a commitment to living on that island can eventually be problematic.

Decisions are made in isolation for the island while not considering implications to the mainland. The people with the most charisma, not necessarily the most qualifications, rise to positions of influence. Existing as an independent island community can limit the available resources, skills, and protection from predators.

Is your women’s ministry operating like an independent island community?

In the evangelical church today, there seems to be an unfortunate disconnect between pastor / elder teams and the intentional discipleship of women. How did women’s ministry become its own entity?

Could it be that women’s ministries have become comfortable operating independently from church leadership?

Could it be that the shepherds of the church have rarely been invited to offer oversight, share wisdom, or provide theological knowledge?

By practically operating outside of pastor/elder involvement, women’s ministries may be limiting themselves and missing out on the richness of Christ’s plan for His church.

One way to begin building bridges is to prayerfully invite church leadership to invest in the older women in the congregation. Here are four benefits of inviting shepherds to oversee the discipleship of women by identifying and equipping older women.

Benefit #1: Scripture is Applied

The book of Titus is written to the leadership of the church to oversee the discipleship of its members. Titus was left in Crete to “set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city” (Titus 1:5). Women’s ministries can be encouraged that the pastors and elders of a local church are ultimately responsible for the discipleship of their entire congregation.

One of the clearest explanations in Scripture on ministry to women is for the older to disciple the younger. Paul exhorts Titus to oversee that older women are “teaching what is good so that they may encourage the young women” (Titus 2:3b-4a).

The first benefit of shepherds investing in older women is that Scripture would be faithfully applied. It is a biblical mandate for pastors and elders to identify and equip older women for the crucial task of teaching younger women. Women’s ministries can prayerfully seek ways to invite their shepherds to fulfill this mandate together.

Benefit #2: Sound Doctrine is Upheld

A second benefit of elders equipping older women to make disciples is that sound doctrine would be upheld. According to Titus 2:1, it is the responsibility of elders to oversee that the Bible is the standard for all that is accomplished in ministry to women.

Women must learn and embrace sound theology so that it permeates everything they do. It is imperative that women’s ministries continually invite pastors and elders to help older women understand the Bible and sound doctrine, so they will be better equipped to teach the next generation.

Benefit #3: Ministry is Multiplied

A third benefit of shepherds equipping older women is that the effectiveness of the entire church body would be multiplied. Ministry and discipleship efforts could be greatly enhanced if elders equipped older women to train and encourage younger women.

In addition, many women have personal and delicate situations that could best be addressed by a spiritually mature woman with more life experience. There are numerous scenarios of younger women in various degrees of crisis in which a trained older woman could support and assist.

Benefit #4: Christ is Glorified

The fourth and most important benefit of implementing principles of women’s discipleship from Titus 2 is that Jesus Christ would be exalted. Ultimately, Titus 2 is given so that the church would know how to grow in godliness to bring Christ glory and display His gospel to the world.

The instructions for discipleship in Titus are given, “that the word of God may not be reviled” and to “adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour” (Titus 2:5b10b). When the Bible is embraced and applied, it can be a powerful witness to the world.

Is your women’s ministry operating outside of the involvement of the church leadership God has appointed? It is never too late to start building bridges that will connect the island of women’s discipleship to the main land of the local church.

Please prayerfully consider the rich benefits of embracing Christ’s design for His church and invite your pastors and elders to invest in the older women. In doing so, Scripture will be applied, sound doctrine will be upheld, ministry will be multiplied, and Christ will be glorified.

Preaching with Practical Impact

The third and final aspect of impact is so close to our understanding of application that many may be tempted to accuse me of inconsistency in my thinking. Impacting a congregation practically is akin to traditional application in that it exhorts or implies certain action. The main difference between traditional application and what I am calling practical impact is that the latter is nothing more than the consequence of every other aspect of the sermon. It is not the chief end or the climax of the sermon. Nor is it the rubric for evaluating the preacher’s success or failure. Rather, it is the wonderful consequence of a preaching text that has been faithfully applied to Christ and which has made an intellectual and emotional impact. In other words, if everything else has been accomplished, practical impact will appear. This does not necessarily mean that a preacher is responsible to spoon-feed his congregation practical impact. However, every hearer who actively engages with the Spirit of God in the Word of God through the preaching will be impacted in the way they live their lives, even without the preacher necessarily telling them to go and live a certain way. Practical impact, therefore, is the evidence of a true encounter with God. It is neither the means nor the end of a transformative sermon. It is the evidence.

In this way, the practical impact of a sermon is inextricably tied salvation. To paraphrase Paul in Ephesians 2:8-10: We are saved by grace through faith for good works. We are not saved by good works. Neither are we saved with good works as the ultimate end of our salvation. No, we are saved by grace through faith and the evidence that this salvation has taken place is that we do the good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Eph 2:10). Good works, like practical impact, are a necessary part of salvation and transformative preaching respectively. However, when we make good works the basis of salvation or practical impact the basis of transformative preaching then we have aborted the fundamental core of each. Good works and practical impact are each evidences of greater realities.

So then, evidence is necessary but it is not causative. Indeed it is the opposite of causative; it is effected. In his last major public sermon John Stott made the following statement:

I remember very vividly, some years ago, that the question which perplexed me as a younger Christian was this: what is God’s purpose for his people? Granted that we have been converted, granted that we have been saved and received new life in Jesus Christ, what comes next? … So I want to share with you where my mind has come to rest as I approach the end of my pilgrimage on earth and it is – God wants his people to become like Christ. Christlikeness is the will of God for the people of God.[1]

Begg and Prime agree with Stott: “Feeding God’s people and proclaiming the whole counsel of God are not ends in themselves. They serve a greater end – the goal of presenting everyone perfect in Christ.”[2] Christlikeness is the ultimate evidence of conversion, that we have been saved and received new life in Jesus Christ. It is what comes next. It is what God wants for the people of God. Practical impact, therefore, can be captured in this very simple idea: transformative sermons must bring about Christlikeness in the people of God. The beautiful irony, however, is that only the Holy Spirit can produce Christlikeness in the people of God, a truth Stott goes on to affirm.[3] Therefore, our sermons must not try to force Christlikeness upon our congregation. Rather, we must dare to preach Christ, and Christ crucified, so that the proper evidence of both salvation and transformative preaching – namely Christlikeness – can be brought into existence by the grace and power of God’s Holy Spirit.

The book of Romans gives us a beautifully clear example of this kind of practical impact. Chapters 1-11 provide the world with the most systematic comprehensive summary of Christian theology in the entire Bible. Drawing on many Old Testament texts and concepts and bringing them to bear on – applying them to – the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, Paul lays out the Gospel one piece at a time. Try to read through Romans without being impacted intellectually. It requires vigorous in-depth concentration to understand what God is saying through Paul in each section and to synthesise all of the parts into a single coherent whole. And, when we spend that mental energy, we cannot help but be moved emotionally.

For, we were all sinners, exiled from God and destined for His righteous judgment and wrath. But, in His mercy God provided His own Son – who is very God Himself – to come as a man, take our sins upon Himself, and receive the wrath we deserve. Now we, by grace through faith, can find mercy and forgiveness. We can be made right with God if we but call out to Christ in faith. When we do this, the Holy Spirit – who is very God Himself – will take up residence in our hearts to empower us to grow more like Christ every step of the way. What’s more, we are promised full glorification – spiritually and physically – when we enter into the age to come. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:1). For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom 8:38-39). Can you feel your mind working and your heart pumping?

But this is not the end of the epistle. After discussing the relationship between Israel and the Church (Rom 9-11) Paul transitions the letter toward practical impact:

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship (rational service). Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Rom 12:1-2).

Much could be said about these two verses, and much has been said. For our purposes here, let us simply notice that Paul makes an appeal to the Christians in Rome to allow the intellectual and emotional impact of Romans 1-11 to translate into practical impact. He says, “I appeal to you therefore…” In other words, in light of what you have learned and felt about the Gospel, “present your bodies as a living sacrifice.” He says, “This is your spiritual worship,” or translated another way, “This is your rational service.” It is only rational to live a certain way after you have been moved intellectually and emotionally by the Gospel. The remaining chapters of Romans provide illustrations and examples of what this spiritual worship, this practical impact, might look like. However, Romans 12-16 is not exhaustive. Paul does not feel compelled to list every way the Gospel ought to change lives, to impact congregations practically. Likewise, it is helpful for our sermons to provide illustrations and suggestions to lead our congregations in the right direction. However, these exhortations can neither be exhaustive nor required. We have to train our congregations to partner with us in our preaching so that they will be able to take the glorious truths of God and discover individually how God desires to transform each of them uniquely with that truth. It is the classic difference between feeding a man a fish verses teaching a man how to fish. The former may feed him for a day but the latter will feed him for a lifetime.

Unfortunately, when we preachers endorse strict traditional application-based sermons we feed men fish. We create a dependency and reinforce a false expectation. This may temporarily make us feel good because we become needed week after week after week. We become the experts telling people how to live, rather than confronting people with the Gospel and allowing people to be transformed by the renewal of their minds by the Word of truth. We want our congregations to be impacted practically, yes. But we want this impact to come about by washing them in the Word so that they might encounter Christ and be moved both intellectually and emotionally. The rest will follow supernaturally.

There is one very important caveat to all of this which must be mentioned. When the Bible exhorts plainly, we exhort plainly. For example, Romans 12:9-13:

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

These verses, and the verses following, are clear. Preaching on these verses cannot help but impact practically. More work will be required on the part of the preacher to provide the basis for these commands, articulated in Romans 1-11.

An application-based sermon for these verses, however, will err in the other direction. Rather than seeking to apply these verses to Christ, and thus impacting a congregation intellectually and emotionally, the application-based sermon will try to tease out the variety of scenarios where these verses might be considered “relevant.” By way of illustrations and stories the preacher will try to make clearer what is already abundantly clear. Abhor what is evil means abhor what is evil. Need we find three or five or seven examples of evil in order to satisfy our craving to “apply the text”? What of the other countless examples of evil we overlooked during our preaching? Do we expect a person struggling with alcohol addiction to fail to see the practical impact of this verse on his life simply because we failed to include drunkenness in our sermon’s list of evils?

Goldsworthy makes an apt observation on this point. He writes:

Paul may expound the gospel in the first part of the letter, and then go on to spell out some ethical and pastoral implications. When the preacher finally gets to deal with the latter, it is possible a couple of weeks or more since the gospel exposition has happened, and the connection between the gospel and behavior, very closely related in the epistle, can be lost. The result is that the exhortations and commands are no longer seen to arise out of the good news of God’s grace in the gospel but as simple imperatives of Christian behavior; as naked law.[4]

A traditional application-based sermon that fails to first apply exhortative epistle passages to Jesus will cut the Gospel out of the message. By misapplying the text to the congregation first, and thus bypassing Jesus, the preacher will turn behavioural implications of the Gospel message into legal requirements, which is a clear distortion of the meaning of these texts.

While providing a few examples to make the point cannot be said to be entirely destructive it is nevertheless helpful to ask whether or not it is necessary. Would it not be better to point our congregations toward Christ and His work as the foundational motivation to live out these verses? Would it not be more powerful to impact our congregations intellectually and emotionally, applying even these verses to the Person of Jesus, rather than trying to supply an endless list of For Examples?

Please do not misunderstand me. Providing illustrations and examples can be helpful. However, when they begin to drive the sermon then something is out of balance. Application-based sermons make their first move from the preaching text toward the human audience. Sermons that seek to impact a congregation practically apply the preaching text first to Christ. The difference is subtle, yes, but definitive. Both will undoubtedly take both the congregation and the Lord into consideration. However, the former focuses more acutely on the congregation while the latter makes the Lord first and central. When the human audience is the focus, the sermon may be entertaining but it will ultimately be shallow and forgettable. When the Lord is first and central, the sermon will be transformative even after it is forgotten.

Impacting a congregation practically is the fruit of a sermon that is well prepared and well delivered. It is the consequence of a preaching text being properly applied to Christ. It is the evidence that the Gospel has impacted a congregation intellectually and emotionally. Sometimes a pastor ought to impact a congregation practically through explicit exhortation. Other times a pastor ought to trust the Holy Spirit to make a practical impact through the implicit preaching of the Word. Knowing when to be explicit and when to be implicit will require wisdom and the guiding of the Holy Spirit.

[1] Stott, Last Word, 19.

[2] Begg and Prime, Pastor, 54.

[3] Stott, Last Word, 43.

[4] Goldsworthy, Whole Bible, xiv.

Preaching with Intellectual Impact

The Bible is a never-ending treasure of intellectual stimulation. The infinite wonder of God is captured in the pages of Scripture for us to contemplate without end. The sheer mastery of God’s Word is a mystery worthy of everlasting exploration.

Unfortunately, however, there seems to be a very real fear in many evangelical churches that too much intellectual exploration of the Bible will translate into mere information dumping or receiving. There is a definite pressure from all sides to apply the Bible to the here-and-now without permission to enjoy the Bible for its own sake. This is a tragic perspective insofar as it instinctively belittles Biblical information. It reduces God’s self revelation to a self-help book, a how-to manual, and a chicken-soup-for-the-soul approach to faith.

The all too common wariness toward Christian intellectualism misses the reality that information is critical if we are to know God. Who can know a person without knowing information about that person? Who can be a medical doctor without knowing information about the human body? Who can be a lawyer without knowing information about the laws of the land? Who can be a farmer without understanding information about the soil, the crops, and the animals in his or her care? Who can be an athlete without knowing the information that makes up the rules of his or her sport? If this is true about human relationships and vocations, how much more is it true of our relationship with God?  Preaching ought to require and inspire people to think and this thinking ought to be recognized as worship in the highest order.

Even though we shall separated intellect, emotion, and practical action in the next many blog posts, in all reality it is impossible to disentangle them. For, the intellect, when engaged, serves the heart in stirring up emotions and an engaged heart provides motivation for practical action. Thoughtless emotion is not the goal of preaching. Neither is cold intellectualism. Nor is passivity which believes and says true statements but fails to act on them. Making the foundation of this point, Piper brings thinking and loving together in a meaningful way:

The main reason that thinking and loving are connected is that we cannot love God without knowing God; and the way we know God is by the Spirit-enabled use of our minds. So to “love God with all your mind” means engaging all your powers of thought to know God as fully as possible in order to treasure him for all he is worth.[1]

Add to this, Active living in the Biblical truths of God and obedience to the commands of Christ, and you have a full picture of the intended fruit of preaching. We need to intentionally arrest the either/or polemic that is developing in evangelical circles and begin to cultivate a both/and mentality that embraces a thinking mind, an engaged heart, and motivated hands.

In order to know God we need to learn information about Him, about the world He created, about the history He has unfolded, and about the Gospel by which He has saved us. This information requires us to think, and by thinking we find that our emotions are aroused, and when our emotions are aroused we will find that we are ready for active obedient living. Encompassing all of this is the crucial ministry of the Holy Spirit who reveals, confronts, enlightens, engages, and empowers our thinking, our loving, and our doing.

Who will do something for someone they do not love? And who can love someone they do not know? And who can know someone they have never thought about? And who can think about someone unless they information to think about? Doing requires loving, loving requires knowing, knowing requires thinking, and thinking requires information.

Therefore, preaching requires the proper handling of Biblical information. Everything in the faith journey of a person is rooted in the reception of true information about God and the only absolute and reliable source for this information is the Bible. An informative sermon, properly understood and communicated by the preacher, is the foundation for all truly transformative sermons. A sermon that makes a congregation feel good or a sermon that calls a congregation to action is incomplete without first an adequate presentation of the truth. As Paul writes to Timothy, the Church is to be a pillar and a buttress of the truth (1Tim 3:15). Sensationalized experience and practical exhortation without truth is hollow and void, for neither will stand under serious testing. However, an authentic spiritual experience or exhortation that is grounded in the truth will endure the most severe trial.

One of the greatest gifts a preacher can give to a congregation is a consistent call to spiritually think-through the sacred writings of the Bible. Since all behaviour is rooted in the true beliefs of every individual, if you want to know what a person believes – and by this I mean what someone truly believes, not what they imagine or say they believe – simply watch how they behave. Behaviour is the only true mirror of belief and belief is the only true fuel of behaviour. Therefore, if we can help our people to believe the truth about God, creation, sin, and salvation, then the fruit of Christian living that we are longing to see in the hearts and homes of our people will begin to grow naturally by the power and oversight of God’s Holy Spirit. Thinking is the impetus for everything else in the Christian life.

A preacher who is not predisposed to thinking, however, will not be able to motivate his congregation to think. Moreover, a preacher who is bored with the Bible will not be able to inspire his congregation to love the Bible. And a preacher who is not allowing the awesome truth of God’s Word to wash over him, sanctifying him from one degree of glory to another day after day after day, will not be able to communicate the message with authenticity and power. The call of a preacher is a call to think. It is a call to prayerfully meditate on the Word of God so that over a lifetime he becomes a sage, a theologian, a man of spiritual wisdom. A preacher must be committed to growing deep roots in the bedrock of Scripture so that others can come to learn from him and to imitate him in his devotion to the Word of God.

John Stott dedicates a chapter of his book, Between Two Worlds, to this very subject. In his opening remarks on the central importance of study and preparation he includes this powerful anecdote:

Speaking to about 600 clergy in London in November 1979, Billy Graham said that, if he had his ministry all over again, he would make two changes. People looked startled. What could he possibly mean? First, he continued, he would study three times as much as he had done. He would take on fewer engagements. ‘I’ve preached too much,’ he said, ‘and studied too little.’ The second change was that he would give more time to prayer. Moreover, in making these emphases, he must have been deliberately echoing the apostolic resolve: ‘we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word.’ (Acts 6:4) Because afterwards I commented appreciatively on what he had said, Dr. Graham wrote to me the following day and added: ‘I remember that Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse (of Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia) once said: “If I had only three years to serve the Lord, I would spend two of them studying and preparing.”’[2]

Without question, thinking takes time, a lot of time. Therefore, blessed is the preacher who is given the gift of time from a generous congregation who understands the value of thinking. And blessed is the congregation who learns from a pastor who is committed to thinking and to sharing the wondrous truths of God week in and week out, both in season and out of season.

Our sermons must impact our congregations intellectually. Otherwise we are trying to build something in mid-air and, when the time of testing comes, the impressive structure we thought we had constructed will collapse like a house of cards. Thinking is the spiritual mortar that the Holy Spirit uses hold everything together. Let us therefore help our people to be thinking people by ensuring that every sermon impacts the intellect as we challenge and encourage our congregations to deeply and seriously think about the revelation of God.

[1] Piper, Think, 90.

[2] Stott, Two Worlds, 180-181.

Preaching with Impact

Having established the subtle, though important, differences between application and impact we will now turn our attention to a fuller treatment of what this impact might look like. It is crucial to recognize that personal and congregational impact comes in all shapes and sizes. The sequential movement from selection and contextualization of a preaching text to Christological application of that text to personal impact gleaned from that text ought to happen chronologically during sermon preparation but it need not flow chronologically during sermon delivery. That is, as the preacher works through a text with a congregation he may find it helpful to take a point in the text and immediately bridge to Christ and then to the congregation without having finished all of his contextualization. This is fine so long as the preacher has been diligent in his study and he is wise in his delivery. I mention this here in order to introduce freedom of style and homiletic preference. This methodology is not meant to be dogmatic about delivery but rather constructive for preparation. There is no one-size-fits-all because all preachers are different and all congregations are different. The Holy Spirit must guide a preacher and every preacher must trust entirely the active work and power of the Holy Spirit.

We can and should be impacted in three primary ways: intellectually, emotionally, and practically. All three are spiritual and necessary for a full Christian life. No matter how a sermon is crafted and delivered it is important for the preacher to continually affirm in his own conscience and by his own preparation that the Word of God is to impact the mind, the heart, and the hands. All three are required for a balanced Christian walk and all three are evident in faithful preaching. As we will see, it becomes very difficult, if not impossible, to separate intellectual impact from emotional and practical impact. The three coexist in a dependent relationship that is not easily deconstructed so long as the preacher is faithful to the Biblical text.

Superior to Angels

This sermon was preached on July 3, 2016 at the Rock Community Church. It is the second sermon in the series on the book of Hebrews.

The preaching text is Hebrews 1:5-2:4

For to which of the angels did God ever say,

“You are my Son, today I have begotten you”?

Or again,

“I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son”?

And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says,

“Let all God’s angels worship him.”

Of the angels he says,

“He makes his angels winds, and his ministers a flame of fire.”

But of the Son he says,

“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.”

10 And,

“You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; 11  they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment, 12  like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be change. But you are the same, and your years will have no end.”

And to which of the angels has he ever said,

“Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”?

14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?

2:1  Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.