Category : Preaching / Homiletics

Peter Moore’s Sermon from this past Sunday at Saint Michael’s, Charleston–Are We at Liberty to Change Jesus?

So, the first thing he said to them was: “You are wrong.” He didn’t say, let’s discuss this further. He didn’t offer to organize a seminar on differing visions of the afterlife. He didn’t decide to have a conversation on the subject. He simply said: “You are wrong.” Kind of blunt. Kind of direct. But, friends, this is the only Jesus we know. This is the canonical Jesus. He used strong terms. And he did not suffer fools gladly. It’s kind of refreshing – certainly different from the “gentle Jesus, meek and mild” that many of us were brought up on in Sunday School. I’m not saying that Jesus isn’t loving. He’s incredibly loving. But like C. S. Lewis’ Lion Aslan, he is good; but he is not tame.

The second thing that Jesus said to them was “you are ignorant of the Scriptures.” “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.” (v.29) This was like waving a red flag before a bull. They were the scholars, the elites, the educated ones. They had been to seminary. And they had degrees after their names. And who was he? Somebody from a nowhere place up north….

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Anthropology, Christology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology, Theology: Scripture

James DeKoven on his Feast Day–A Sermon on Christian Hope (1864)

“Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the vail; whither the Forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus.”””HEB. vi. 19, and part of v. 20.

Life is full of changes and chances. It sounds commonplace to say so, and yet more and more one learns to realize that the commonplaces of life are the things we most frequently dwell on, and the things we most often need comfort about. Poverty and riches, sickness and health, prosperity and adversity, joy and sorrow, succeed one another in our lives in a way that men call chance, and Christians know to be the will of God. All external circumstances change and alter; friends fail us or are taken away; death breaks up family circles; we move away from the scenes of youth and dwell in other places; cities and towns lose their familiar appearance; nay, in this our day things that should be most stable shake and totter, and government and order seem about to fail, and the very Church itself partakes of the universal disquiet; and only the eye of faith can discern the sure and immovable foundations against which the gates of hell shall never prevail.

But, even if there were no external changes, the changes within us are still harder to bear. We are not what we were. Time more surely alters our inner selves than even it does what is without us. We do not love what we loved, we do not seek what we sought, we do not fear what we feared, we do not hate what we hated. We are not true to ourselves. However brave a front we may present to the world, we are compelled to acknowledge to ourselves our own inconsistencies. There is often a broad chasm even between the intellectual convictions of one period of life and of another; and our very religious convictions, except they are built on the unchanging rule of the catholic faith, contradict each other; and the weary heart, uncertainly reaching forth in the darkness, longs with an ever deeper longing for that immutable One “with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”

Blessed, then, is it to hear of an anchor of the soul. The imagery is simple enough. The ship, beaten by waves, tossed by tempests, driven by winds, takes refuge in the harbor. The anchor is cast from the stern. The ship rides securely; the danger is over.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Eschatology, Preaching / Homiletics

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon–Can we Learn to understand repetance as a gift of God’s grace (Psalm 51)

You can listen directly here and download the mp3 there.

Posted in * By Kendall, * South Carolina, Anthropology, Christology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(TGC) Trevin Wax–The Call to Repentance and the Championing of Grace

“We’re losing the nerve to call people to repentance.”

That’s what a retired pastor recently told me, expressing his concern that while the next generation loves to champion the unconditional love and grace of God, rarely does their message include Christ’s call to repentance. Younger pastors, he said, want to meet people where they are, in whatever mess they’re in, and let the Spirit clean them up later. God will deal with their sins down the road.

But in the Gospels, Jesus seems much more extreme. His good news was the announcement of God’s kingdom, and the first word to follow? “Repent!” No wonder Jesus didn’t tell the rich young ruler to walk with Him for a while until he stopped coveting. No, He got to the root of an unrepentant heart when He said, “Sell all your possessions and give them to the poor.” In other words, Repent. Turn around.

“I’m cheering for the next generation,” the pastor said, “but I feel like an ogre for stressing repentance all the time….”

Here’s where we so easily take a wrong turn. Wherever did we get the notion that the call to repentance is opposed to the championing of grace? When did truth and grace get separated? Or repentance and faith?

To think that the message of grace and the call of repentance are opposed to one another is to miss the beautiful, grace-filled nature of what repentance actually is. The call to repent is one of greatest expressions of the love of God.

Read it all (quoted by yours truly in the morning sermon) [emphasis mine].

Posted in Anthropology, Christology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Preaching / Homiletics, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon from Saint Michael’s, Charleston–What is the Gospel (John 3, Ephesians 2)?

The link is there and you can listen live or download the audio depending on your preference.

Posted in * By Kendall, * South Carolina, Christology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Soteriology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Salvation (Soteriology), Theology: Scripture

(Theology and Ethics) A fabulous teaching and preaching resource from Scotland

I was blessed to grow up in St George’s Tron Church in Glasgow under the teaching ministry of people like Eric Alexander, Sinclair Ferguson, David Ellis, Richard Buckley and others. Some time ago I found the great Tapes from Scotland website which has literally thousands of expository sermons and talks by them and other great (mainly Scottish, all male, broadly Reformed) preachers such as James and George Philip and William Still.

I’ve adapted their spreadsheet of the recordings so as to include links to each recording on their site and you can access and search through them below.

You can scroll through the whole dataset 15 recordings at a time using the arrows at the top and bottom or you can order any column alphabetically by clicking on its title but it is obviously better to use the quite elaborate search and filter process on the left hand side.

Check out the whole thing (Hat tip:AG).

Posted in --Scotland, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Presbyterian

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon–What is the Gospel (Exodus 20; John 2:13-22; 1 Cor.1:18-25)

You can listen directly here and download the mp3 there.

Posted in * South Carolina, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology: Scripture

Brian McGreevey’s Sunday Sermon at St Philip’s, Charleston: The Word of the Cross–Folly or Wisdom?

You can listen directly here or download it there. Listen carefully for a statistic on shoplifting, a CS Lewis reference, a C H Spurgeon citation, and a Tolkien Lord of the Rings mention.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Samuel Wells’ sermon from last Sunday–Investing in the Kingdom

Now the Church of England was largely established, and for many centuries run, on the benefactor model. Some decades ago the sums ceased to add up – not because of a decline in congregation size, but because of sociological changes like what constitutes reasonable provision for people in their retirement, how long retired clergy live, whether the noblesse feel as obliged as they used to, and the shift of the majority of the population to cities, where relationships of unspoken obligation are different from the abiding practice of the country. And so in the last two or three generations a church that depended on squirearchy has morphed into a church that rests on congregationalism. By congregationalism I mean the assumption that the basic unit of Christianity is the local church, that each local church should seek to be self-sufficient as regards the provision of its stipendiary ministry, building upkeep and administrative costs and liturgical requirements, and that such expenditure should be met almost entirely through the voluntary stewardship of members of its congregation. Congregationalism can be inspiring with the sense of a team achieving great things together, but it has two drawbacks: it shrinks the understanding of church to simply the regular attendees; and it tends to obscure the vision of mission almost altogether.

And so to chapter five, in which this all comes home to roost. At St Martin-in-the-Fields we worked on the benefactor model longer than most urban churches. In the 1980s we awakened to the fact that the sums didn’t add up. The costs of the building and the extensive outreach ministry far exceeded the potential of congregational stewardship. The answer was to create a commercial enterprise. Over the last 31 years we’ve steered a course between two poles. The first pole is to try to make the commercial enterprise the complete embodiment of all our aspirations for what it means to be a world-facing church. That sounds like a great idea, but it largely removes the profit that pays our bills, and leaves us back with external benefaction and congregational stewardship together facing an unassailable annual target. The alternative pole is to try to ensure the commercial enterprise makes so much profit that congregational stewardship becomes unnecessary. That sounds attractive, but it’s not the answer: if we succeeded it would end up so professionalising our life that it would eradicate the central role that voluntary discipleship plays in what it means for us to be a church.

The answer is to combine the four activities that make up our life. First, we strive to be a real church, where people find and grow in faith, care and receive care, participate in and lead worship, meet Christ in the stranger and the disadvantaged, seek to proclaim and advance God’s kingdom, and become one body. That’s what our congregational giving pays for. Second, we seek to be a place where we offer food, music, event spaces and commodities that people come here to find and are glad to pay for. That’s what our commercial business does, and in addition it offers good employment and pays for day-to-day maintenance costs. Third, we ask strangers to join with our longstanding mission to homeless people in London and around the UK. That’s what the Charity and the Connection do. Fourth, we invite wealthier people and foundations to invest in us as an institution and look to the long-term well-being of our fabric because they believe in where we’re going. That’s what the Trust does. Take stewardship away and we stop being a church, take business away and we lose our building, take homeless work away and we’ve lost our mission, take the Trust away and we’ve got no future. All four are vital, indispensable, and wonderful.

St Martin-in-the-Fields is a delicate balance between many things that occasionally seem very different and on the odd day can feel in tension. But most of the time it’s a miracle of divine initiative and human response, ordinary effort and sublime gifts, simple goodness and astonishing grace, and we all feel privileged to be a part of it. As a congregation we know it’s not all about us: we humbly recognise that lots of good things happen here, which we enjoy, participate in, and encourage; at the same time it’s not all down to us: we gratefully welcome others whose work, custom and kindness pay the majority of the bills. But if the careful ecology of St Martin’s is to continue to flourish, we as a congregation need to play our part, with our time and energy, absolutely; but also, crucially, with our money.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Stewardship

(ACNS) More tributes from Anglican leaders follow death of US evangelist Billy Graham

The former Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, told Eternity News that he became a Christian at a Billy Graham rally at the age of 15. “The thing that struck me was that he held the Bible in his hand and he preached the Bible,” he said. “I already believed that the Bible was the word of God, so when he preached the Bible – and he preached that day from Noah and the Ark in Genesis – it seemed an inevitable thing to do to follow his invitation to come down the front, as a way of indicating that you wished to commit your life to Jesus Christ. It seemed inevitable to me that one would do that.”

He said that the rallies “reaped a harvest”. He accepted that “nominals dropped away from church but those who were committed remained”, and added: “if we’d not had the Graham Crusade, I believe church-going would have decreased much more significantly than it did – and the level of commitment in church would be far less.”

The Church of England’s Bishop in Europe, Robert Innes, spoke of the “Wonderful memories of the powerful Cambridge University Mission [Graham] led in 1980”, and said: “I join with millions of others in thanking God for the life of Billy Graham.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Australia, Church History, Evangelicals, Evangelism and Church Growth, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture

(WSJ) Russell Moore–Billy Graham Bore Witness for 99 Years; He was perhaps the most significant evangelist since the Apostle Paul

I remember the scene well: Years ago I was sitting in the pews of an almost-empty church listening to an Episcopal bishop discuss why Billy Graham was irrelevant. The prelate insisted that Graham was not the problem. No one could question his sincerity or integrity—only his message.

“Modern people simply cannot accept the supernatural basis of Billy Graham’s gospel,” I recall the bishop saying. “Billy Graham should change his gospel or he will never reach our world as it is.” A man sitting next to me turned and said, “There are 40 people here, and four million listened to Billy Graham in a crusade last night.”

Graham, who died Wednesday at 99, was perhaps the most significant Christian evangelist since the Apostle Paul. This wasn’t because of his media savvy or political influence. He transcended all of that with an obvious belief in the gospel he preached—obvious even to those watching on television or sitting in a stadium’s nosebleed seats. Graham did not think the brave new world needed anything other than an old-time gospel.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, Episcopal Church (TEC), Evangelicals, Evangelism and Church Growth, Preaching / Homiletics, TEC Bishops

(Church Times) From the archive: Billy Graham in London, 1954

He held up the Bible and spoke about the God of creation. “God is all-knowing. Not one single thing in your life escapes his knowledge. No sin that has ever been committed has escaped the eye of God.

“God is unchanging, holy and pure and righteous, and he is a God of love. We lost contact with God because Adam and Eve sinned. When Adam sinned, the human race sinned with him. There is only one way back, and that is through Jesus Christ. On the Cross, Jesus Christ took your judgment. He will give you joy and peace and happiness. . . There is no way to know God apart from Jesus. . .

“I have seen gangsters receive Christ and become preachers; alcoholics lose their taste for alcohol; I have seen prostitutes changed; men and women in every walk of life . . .”

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Evangelicals, Evangelism and Church Growth, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture

(CT) A Billy Graham Sermon–The Sin of Tolerance

One of the pet words of this age is “tolerance.” It is a good word, but we have tried to stretch it over too great an area of life. We have applied it too often where it does not belong. The word “tolerant” means “liberal,” “broad-minded,” “willing to put up with beliefs opposed to one’s convictions,” and “the allowance of something not wholly approved.”

Tolerance, in one sense, implies the compromise of one’s convictions, a yielding of ground upon important issues. Hence, over-tolerance in moral issues has made us soft, flabby and devoid of conviction.

We have become tolerant about divorce; we have become tolerant about the use of alcohol; we have become tolerant about delinquency; we have become tolerant about wickedness in high places; we have become tolerant about immorality; we have become tolerant about crime and we have become tolerant about godlessness. We have become tolerant of unbelief.

In a book recently published on what prominent people believe, 60 out of 100 did not even mention God, and only 11 out of 100 mentioned Jesus. There was a manifest tolerance toward soft character and a broadmindedness about morals, characteristic of our day. We have been sapped of conviction, drained of our beliefs and bereft of our faith.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Christology, Evangelicals, Preaching / Homiletics, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Evangelism & Mission, Theology: Scripture

(Kim Lawton Blog) Remembering Evangelist Billy Graham–Billy Graham: “An American Phenomenon”

LAWTON: In 2002, Graham released a book titled “Heaven, the Final Journey.” Heaven was a subject he preached about frequently during his career. Talk show host Dick Cavett once asked Graham what he thought heaven would be like.

GRAHAM, on “The Dick Cavett Show”: Heaven is going to be where Christ is. Now I don’t know whether that’s a planet or whether that’s a star or whether it’s on this earth or where it’s going to be. But it’s going to be where Christ is and the Bible says, “to be absent from the bodies, present with the Lord.” And if I died right now, Dick, I know that I’m going to go immediately into the presence of God.

DICK CAVETT, on “The Dick Cavett Show”: You do?

GRAHAM, on “The Dick Cavett Show”: I know that.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Church History, Evangelicals, Evangelism and Church Growth, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture

(BGEA) A Video Tribute to Billy Graham

Posted in Church History, Evangelicals, Evangelism and Church Growth, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture