Why expository preaching at all?

Here’s Dick Lucas’ answer:

“Expository preaching takes the Bible at face value, and that’s why the preacher will want to work hard to understand what it says. The preacher starts with the premise that God must be the perfect communicator, both in content and method. Since he has chosen to communicate through the Bible, we need to work hard at understanding the Bible, so that we can understand what God is saying, because when the Bible faithfully proclaimed, God’s voice is heard. When a preacher goes off on a frolic of his own, his own voice is heard. When someone explains away the Bible, his explanation is heard. But when the Bible is faithfully expounded, God’s voice is heard, because the Bible is the word of God.”

(see in full here).

Idolatry in Corporate Worship

You will have perhaps seen the new banner on the front page of our website.  We are finally going public with our vision for church planting in the new housing developments near Trumpington, Cambridge.  It’s an exciting time for us as a church.

Part of the process of considering the church plant involves, for us at least, weighing up the impact such a project will have back at base.  Who might we send?  Where will the gaps in our various ministries be?  Can we cope with such a sacrifice and will God provide for our needs?

God has always proved faithful to us in our previous church planting endeavours.  We thank God for His provision for us and our sister congregations – Grace Church in the north of the city, and Hope Community Church in Teversham, south of the city.  Yet still, we want to carefully and prayerfully consider the costs for this new adventure.

One important area of church life that has been impacted by each church plant, and may well be again, is our corporate worship.  When we gather as a church on Sunday mornings and evenings, we aspire to preach, pray, sing, and do all things as well as we can for the glory of God.  We want the Bible to shape all we do; we want to honour God by being orderly in all we do; we want to ‘fix our eyes on Jesus Christ’ in all we do.  Yet to do these things in practice, we are dependent on good folks participating, good folks some of whom may be sent with a church plant.

It is into this mindset – the above seems to dominate my thoughts and prayers at the moment as perhaps they should – that I came across this great article by Bob Kauflin, Director of Sovereign Grace Music.  Reading it helped me see afresh where those idols in my heart are with regard to our corporate worship at Rock, and helped me fix again on what really matters to God.

“Little children, keep yourselves from idols,” John ends his first letter. In other words, don’t see anything but God’s glory in Christ as the source of your greatest joy, deepest satisfaction, and highest authority.

Idolatry can be active in my heart even when I’m gathered with the church. Whenever I think I can’t meet with God unless “X” is present, I’m making a profound statement. If “X” is anything other than Jesus Christ, and his Holy Spirit, I’ve moved into idolatrous territory.

We move forward in considering church planting trusting that God will provide, and prayerful too that God will impress upon us afresh just what really matters in church life and corporate worship.  Soli Deo Gloria, as the old Latin-loving saints used to say.

When Preaching the Gospel is Illegal

This blog has been quiet now for some time, but an event which took place during the Wimbledon tennis championships seems worthy of note and worthy of reviving the blog for.

You may have seen in the news that an American evangelist, Tony Miano, was arrested for preaching in the streets of London.  One passer-by took offence at Tony’s sermon, called the police, and Tony was taken off to be interviewed.

The Huffington Post cover the basic information in this article if you want to familiarise yourself with the events.

The full transcript of the police interview has been released and can be found in a post on the Archbishop Cranmer blog.  Helpfully, Cranmer has highlighted those areas of the interview in which the police focus in on Tony Miano’s personal beliefs.

Much has been said and written about this arrest but on a personal note, the most insightful piece I have read was a blog post by Phil Moore.  It is well worth reading in full.  He concludes the post with these words:

Whilst I await their response to my complaint, I have been reading 1 Thessalonians  a little bit myself. I am encouraged that Paul tells the Thessalonians that “We had previously suffered and been treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in the face of strong opposition” (1Th 2:2). I am encouraged that he tells them up front that “You suffered from your own people the same things those churches suffered … in their effort to keep us from speaking to the pagans so that they may be saved” (1Th 2:14-16). I am encouraged that it is in this context of abuse, arrest and persecution that the Thessalonian church grew and planted churches across the Roman Empire. Paul tells the persecuted believers that “The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia – your faith in God has become known everywhere.”

Something has changed. The conditions in Britain are now different. They are less like the comfortable, compromised twentieth century which saw massive church decline. They are becoming a bit more like the days in which the church at Thessalonica flourished: when street-preaching Christians were hated and loved in equal measure.

And, finally, if you are interested, here is Tony Miano’s preaching and arrest in full: