If he had to choose

Charles Spurgeon on two types of preaching:  “Give us all the vulgarities of the wildest back-woods’ itinerant rather than the perfumed prettinesses of effeminate gentility.” – Lectures to My Students, Vol. 1

In support of sound bites

“But even apart from our modern, slack-jawed idiocy, the sound bite has always existed. This is because part of the glory of finitude is the inability to say everything all the time. We always abbreviate, summarize, and abridge. And this does not automatically damn the speech of the human race. In fact, God is the original leader in this venture. When God spoke light into existence, He did not give a lecture on the topic – though He surely could have. He could have exhaustively spoken the entirety of all that light is and means. But instead, He abbreviated. He called Light by a short, potent utterance that commanded it into existence. The whole concept of naming is the same. God brought animals to Adam, and authorized him to name them. And whatever Adam called the little, squatty rodent, that was its name – despite the fact that Adam had only existed for about five minutes and could not have had a very thorough taxonomy figured out on hedgehogs. But God was pleased. He wants His image bearers to name the world like He does, with short descriptions and names. He is not worried if Adam hasn’t said everything else he can possibly say about the creature, even though a modern biologist might be able to run circles around him. It is actually incredibly God-like to speak big truths in 140 characters or less.

But the world wasn’t a week old yet, and Satan, the Father of Lies, showed up with a lexicon, hoping to tease out some of the nuances of the Word of God. This isn’t a case for anti-intellectualism; it’s actually the opposite. It’s perilously easy for pastors and theologians to get distracted by gnats in the text, while their people are getting trampled by camels in the pews. This leaves the faithful to fend for themselves, digging a few crumbs and scraps out of the theological pile of hot, stinky stuff that frequently passes for a sermon.”  – Toby Sumpter

Read his post in favor of tweeting here.

Missed it by eighteen inches

It’s important to keep in mind what we’re going for when we teach, preach, etc.  One of the blind spots of many Reformed minded people is an emphasis on doctrine as an intellectual pursuit rather than heart changing teachings about the living and true God.  If you’ve spend much time on this blog, you know I have a great appreciation for those who put concrete application to godly teaching (Gary North, Doug Wilson).  But it is a trap of Satan for that application to become lifeless ideology rather than Spirit-filled truth.

The heart is deceitful and ministers aren’t above the fray.  We preach God-glorifying truth but often do so in order to prove that we’re right rather than rely on the Holy Spirit to plant the truth deep in the hearts of the His people.  It’s only by God’s grace that we can communicate.  The fact that God exists isn’t something that devils doubt; they believe and tremble.  The problem is that the belief is only in the mind, not the heart.  If we don’t speak to the heart when we’re sharing God’s word, all the intellectual assent in the world won’t do any good.  From the heart comes the issues of life; only a changed heart will result in changed actions.  It’s important to clearly communicate, but unless we present the truth with faith in God, we will have missed the goal by eighteen inches.

Preaching Hard Words

“Hard words, hard teaching, are the jackhammer of God.  It takes a great deal to break up our hard hearts, and the God of all mercy is willing to do it.  But He always does it according to His Word, and His Word is not as easy on us as we like…When Christians call for smooth words, easy words, the result is hard people.  When we submit to hard words, we become the tender-hearted people of God.”  Doug Wilson, Mother Kirk.

What is wrong with our preaching?

“Men ordained to preach the Bible were at that moment ordained to tell stories, whether they were trained to realize this or not. But instead of doing this, we gravitate to our most comfortable home turf—the letters of Paul—and preach there for the rest of our lives. This is not to deny the importance of detailed doctrinal exposition because the books of Romans and Hebrews are there in Scripture. It would be no more balanced to avoid the doctrinal expositions of Scripture. But the nature of the exposition provided in Romans and Hebrews helps to emphasize in another way how important narrative is throughout the Bible. Both of these small doctrinal books are floating on the surface of a small ocean, an ocean of countless Old Testament stories. The complete and total familiarity of the first-century reading audience with the inspired narratives was simply assumed. When we continue with that same kind of exposition without the preacher and congregation being steeped in the stories of Scripture, we are trying to float the doctrinal boat in the great pond of Death Valley.”–Douglas Wilson, Credenda Agenda, Volume 15, Number 6, p. 13.