Mining Grace

…the more happiness you have, the more I shall count myself glorified

Archive for February 2008

Spurgeon on the Cotent of Sermons

I had a night off from preaching last night.  It was a humbling night as it was my “re-installation” service marking my title change from assistant to associate pastor.  The distinction between the two would only be interesting to polity geeks so I will refrain from a long explanation.  Simply put, it served as a ministerial vote of confidence from my congregation.  I do not know a more humbling title than that of “pastor“.  As I sat there on the front pew the gravity of my call and the grace of God came together in a way that I can only describe as a joyously solemn view of the sovereign love of God towards me.

All that being said, I did not preach on 1 Thessalonians last night.  Instead of my usual Monday morning sermon post, I’m going to post two quotes from CH Spurgeon.  I’ve recently begun reading a chapter a day of his book, Lectures to My Students.  In it Spurgeon displays his characteristic humor combined with a wealth of practical wisdom for pastors.

The following quotes are taken from the last few paragraphs of his chapter entitled, Sermons – Their Matter.

What should a sermon be about?  Spurgeon tells us.

“Of all I would wish to say this is the sum; my brethren, preach CHRIST, always and evermore.  He is the whole gospel.  His person, offices, and work must be our one great, all-comprehending theme.  The world needs still to be told of its Savior, and of the way to reach him.  Justification by faith should be far more than it is the daily testimony of Protestant pulpits; and if with this master-truth there should be more generally associated the other great doctrines of grace, the better for our churches and our age.” [1]

Finally, in hopes of discouraging fights within the family of God, Spurgeon reveals his own desire to transcend denominational differences with the gospel.

“More and more am I jealous lest any views upon prophecy, church government, politics, or even systematic theology, should withdraw one of us from glorying in the cross of Christ.  Salvation is a theme for which I would fain enlist every holy tongue.  I am greedy after witnesses for the glorious gospel of the blessed God.  O that Christ crucified were the universal burden of the men of God.” [2]

O that it were indeed!  More timely advice could not be given to all those who bear the humbling title of pastor.


[1]  C.H. Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students: Complete and Unabridged (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1979), 79.

[2] Ibid, 79.


Written by Joe Holland

February 25, 2008 at 1:12 pm

That some receive the gift – Dort 1.6

“That some receive the gift of faith from God, and others do not receive it, proceeds from God’s eternal decree. ‘For known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world’ (Acts 15:18; Eph 1:11). According to which decree he graciously softens the hearts of the elect, however obstinate, and inclines them to believe; while he leaves the non-elect in his judgment to their own wickedness and obduracy. And herein is especially displayed the profound, the merciful, and at the same time the righteous discrimination between men, equally involved in ruin; or that decree of election and reprobation, revealed in the Word of God, which, through men of perverse, impure, and unstable minds wrest it to their own destruction, yet to holy and pious souls affords unspeakable consolation.”

– The Canons of the Synod of Dort, 1.6

Why am I posting this?

Written by Joe Holland

February 24, 2008 at 1:53 pm

Reading, Studying, and the Pastor

I have been listening to the Sovereign Grace Ministries’ newest podcast, Leadership Interview Series.  I’m actually listening to it as I write this post.  The first one is on The Pastor and His Reading.

In it, CJ Mahaney mentiones that the best material he has recently read on a pastor and reading is the material that was written over at the T4G blog a little over two years ago.  At Mahaney’s mention of those posts I remembered how much I had enjoyed those posts as well.

If you haven’t read the T4G posts–or subscribed to the Leadership Intervew Series podcast–you  should remedy both immediately.

Written by Joe Holland

February 22, 2008 at 11:17 am

John Calvin’s Definition of Piety

“I call ‘piety’ that reverence joined with love of God which the knowledge of his benefits induces.”

-John Calvin, The Institutes of Christian Religion, ed. John T. McNeill, tr. Ford Lewis Battles (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press), I.II.1.

Written by Joe Holland

February 22, 2008 at 10:03 am

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Dever on Preaching

Mark Dever came to Jackson at the end of last year to give the John Reed Miller Lecture Series at RTS.  I ran into Ligon one of the afternoons of the lectures.  He told me that Dever’s material was some of the best stuff on preaching he has heard.  I knew on that recommendation that I should download and listen to them.

It’s taken me a few months but I just finished the three-part series.  They were excellent.  I recommend them for preacher and layman alike.  With his normal rapid fire delivery, Dever answers many of the most pressing questions for students of preaching.

  • Should the sermon be the central point of the worship service?
  • How important is preaching?
  • Should the sermon be an extended monologue?
  • What is the place of humor in preaching?
  • Are sermons mainly for the lost or the saved?
  • How should you address the unbeliever in a sermon?
  • What makes a good introduction or conclusion?
  • What dangers are there for those who preach the gospel?

Dever answers all of these and more over the course of these three lectures.

  1. The Symbol and Significance of Preaching
  2. The Use of Preaching
  3. The Art of Preaching

You can find them at the RTS section of itunes U.

Written by Joe Holland

February 20, 2008 at 1:19 pm

Posted in haste

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Bauer beats Bourne beats Bond

A recent CBMW blog post by Steven Cavallaro was just too good to ice in my sidebar dugout.  If you ever wondered who was the manliest man in a competition between James Bond, Jason Bourne, and Jack Bauer–Cavallaro give the answer.

I happen to agree and am patiently waiting for an end to the writers’ strike.  Hmmm…how would Jack Bauer handle the writers’ union negotiations?  Maybe season 7 will tell.

Written by Joe Holland

February 20, 2008 at 11:41 am

Bespangled with Gracious Promises

“Blessed be God for the revelation of the covenant of grace, wherein life and salvation is freely provided and offered to fallen man through the obedience and satisfaction of the second Adam.  Well may it be called a covenant of grace: for it came from the rich and free grace of God, as its true spring; it is all bespangled with gracious promises, as the heavens are with stars; and all the blessings contained in it are gratuitous and free, such as men cannot plead any right or title unto by any merit or works of their own.”

-Thomas Boston, The Complete Works of the Late Rev. Thomas Boston (1853; repr., Tentmaker Publications: Stokes-on-Trent, 2002), 1:241.

Written by Joe Holland

February 20, 2008 at 8:50 am

Posted in haste

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