Archives For Preaching

Christ said his disciples are the "salt" of the world.Update: You can see how my study progressed here with a draft of sermon on the mount terms and definitions.

What did I miss?

January 25, I plan to begin a new preaching series on the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). Understanding key concepts is indispensable in seeing the rich beauty of the heart of Jesus’s message. So, one of the ways I prepare for series like this one is to make a glossary of terms that I make available to our people one way or another.

If you want to help, read through Matthew 5-7 and see if you can identify any terms or concepts that need to be defined not found on my list. Here is my list thus far.

What else would help you understand the Sermon on the Mount?

Working Glossary for the Sermon on the Mount

Beatitude –

Kingdom of Heaven / Kingdom of God –

Disciples / Disciple –

Fasting –

Gentiles –

Jews –

The Law –

Light –

Macarism –

Matthew’s Gospel –

Mountain / Mount –

Oath –

Pharisees –

Synagogue –

Salt –

“Greatful for Your Preaching”

Chris —  October 17, 2014

2014_10_17_11_25_03One of the best parts of being a pastor is having a front row seat as parents teach their children about the preaching of the Word of God. This morning my friend, Jaxen (the blond little boy pictured below with his older brother) , gave me an illustrated note to tell me that he is grateful for my preaching of the Holy Word.

There is so much about the note that I appreciate:

  • Jaxson is thankful for his pastor and recognizes that pastors are a gift from God (Ephesians 4:11-13).
  • Jaxson has a high view of the word of God. He refers to the Bible as God’s “holy” Word.
  • Jaxson knows that it is important to take the time to thank people.
  • Jaxon (see illustration)  thinks I am skinny.

Thank God for Christian homes.

Yes – – we know the traditional spelling of “grateful” at the Red Brick Church. We just prefer “greatful” to communicate the extent of our gratitude.

2014-04-26 18.24.36

Don't Bury Your Head in the Sand About SufferingEveryone needs to prepare for suffering. It’s sure to come. Step forward in preparing for suffering by being part of the Job sermon series at the Red Brick Church beginning on October 5, 2014.

Suffering is a fact of life. We all have suffered.  We all will suffer. There is no choice. Cancer and car accidents crash into lives. Betrayals break hearts. Disease and disaster destroy health.

We should prepare. But many don’t. They take the ostrich’s approach of closing their eyes to reality. People will their heads buried in the sands of denial are in a place far more dangerous than any ostrich. Pretending suffering will never happen leaves people completely vulnerable to the worst kind of future.

Beginning October 5, Pastor Chris Brauns will begin preaching a new series on the book of Job. This series will equip us to see how we can be prepared to face whatever suffering comes our way.

Together we will learn and deeply own the wonderful truth that those willing to “take their heads out of the sand,” and look to God’s Word answers in Christ and the cross that are more beautiful than we ever could have imagined.

The Red Brick Church has worship services at 9 and 10:30 on Sunday mornings. There is a nursery during both hours. Children’s Sunday School for all ages is offered at 9:00 and Children’s Church for preschool through third grace is offered at 10:30.

See also:

Hitting Hard Questions Head-On

Would You Agree That Time is the Hard Part?

Job: Preaching Propositions

Current Questions for the Study of Job

Ash Helps Us Move to the Heart of the Matter on Job

9 Reasons Tim Keller’s Book on Suffering is Superb

Andy Naselli’s interview of John Frame regarding the Problem of Evil

Men seek an understanding of suffering in cause and effect

Job: A Writer of Superb Genius Has Erected a Monumental Work

When Suffering Avoid “I Hate Thee” and “I Hate Me”

Job is a Fireball Book

Does the Book of Job Offer An Explanation for Why People Suffer?

Christian Books on Pain and Suffering

If You Never Did Anything in Advance, There is Relatively Little You Can Do At The Time

Once You Are In A Crisis, There is Not Time

Four Wrong Answers to the Question Why Me

TDuguid Clowney Hom Diagramechnical Alert: My target audience for my blog is our church family. Whenever I consider writing a post I ask, “Would this benefit our flock?” This post is a little more technical than I would normally write. But it’s important as we go into the Job series – – and whenever I preach from the Old Testament.

One of the most important questions that any preacher must consider is how Christ is properly preached from the Old Testament. There can be no question that we should do so. After all, Jesus himself set this example:

And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. Luke 24:27

And Paul encouraged the Corinthians that:

For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. 2 Corinthians 1:20

Yet this doesn’t always mean that Christ has been responsibly preached from the Old Testament. There are far too many examples of preachers making creative claims such as arguing that the tent pegs of the Tabernacle represented the nails of the cross (Duguid, 16).

I’ve recently spent time reading a very helpful booklet by Iaian M. Duguid, Is Jesus in the Old Testament?, in which he lays out principles for preaching Christ from the Old Testament. I have found the above diagram, adapted from Edmund Clowney, to be very helpful.

You have to study the diagram for a bit to see it. Yet, it is very helpful in identifying the proper path to preaching Christ – – and in avoiding errors that have so often been made.

  1. The preacher should start in the bottom left corner with the OT Text. He should avoid the shortcuts of either allegorical moralism or allegory and continue to identify the timeless truth of the Old Testament text.
  2. From the upper left corner – – the OT Truth, the preacher should then move right and consider this text within the context of the history of redemption (see Biblical Theology for a long answer – – or this video for a short one).
  3. Once we see how the Old Testament passage is fulfilled in Christ, the significance of the text for the contemporary audience can be considered.

Preach Christ!

Hitting Hard Questions Head On

Chris —  September 24, 2014

iStock_000000166691MediumOnly Christianity can truly hit the hard questions head-on. A new sermon series at the Red Brick Church will address the central questions of life.

Thoughtful human beings encounter vexing questions:

·      Why are we here? What’s the purpose of life?

·      Does what I do matter?

·      Why do good people suffer while others get away with murder?

·      Is there real hope?

·      How can I step off the mental gerbil wheel and the inner turmoil I face?

·      How can I help someone I love who is hurting?

Thankfully we do not have to dig for answers on our own. God is there. And He is not silent. He has spoken clearly in his Word.

Beginning October 5 Pastor Chris Brauns will begin a new series at The Red Brick Church, A Journey with Job: Seeing and Savoring the Beauty of Christ Amid the Long Walk of Suffering. In this series Chris will show how the Bible hits these questions head on. And in this series, those willing to look to Christ will begin to see that the biblical answers to hard questions are more beautiful than we could have imagined.

The Red Brick Church has worship services at 9 and 10:30 on Sunday mornings. There is a nursery during both hours. Children’s Sunday School for all ages is offered at 9:00 and Children’s Church for preschool through third grace is offered at 10:30.

Do you agree – – “time” is the aspect of suffering that makes it so difficult?

I have been preparing for months a sermon series: A Journey With Job: Seeing and Savoring the Beauty of Christ Amid the Long Walk of Suffering. Preaching on Job means preaching on suffering – – so I have been prayerfully reflecting on suffering a great deal.

One point which I have considered for some time is that “time” is what makes pain so difficult. We could stand any amount of pain for an instant. We could bear losing the person closest to us this morning if we knew we would see them in the afternoon.

But instant relief is not how it goes. And so pain becomes . . . painful. Time intensifies pain.

Having said that – – I would treasure your input. Does that point make sense? Would you agree?

What Our Exhausted World Needs

Chris —  September 12, 2014

Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote his important book, Preachers and Preaching, in the wake of the protests of the 60’s and 70’s. In it, Lloyd-Jones argued that what a tired and disillusioned age desperately needs is the proclamation of the Word. In making his point, Lloyd-Jones draws a parallel between our tired age and that of the first century and says that what both need is Christ-centered, anointed, preaching.

The Victorian age, last century, was an age of optimism. People were carried away by the theory of evolution and development, poets sang about the coming of ‘the parliament of man and the federation of the world.’ We would banish war and all would be well, and the would be one great nation. They really believed that sort of thing. Nobody believes it by now apart from an odd representative here and thee of the old ‘social gospel’ of the pre-1914 era. We have lived to see the fallacy of that old optimistic liberalism, and we are living in an age of disillusionment when men are desperate. That is why we are witnessing this student protest and every other kind of protest; that is why people are taking drugs. It is the end of all the optimism of the liberals. It was bound to lead to this because it was wrong in its basic conceptions, its origins, in its very thinking. We are seeing the end of all of that. Is not this then the very time when the door is wide open for the preaching of the Gospel? The age in which we are living is so similar to the first century in many respects. The old world was exhausted then. The flowering period of Greek philosophy had come and gone, Rome in a sense had passed by her zenith, and there was the kind of tiredness and weariness, with consequent turning to pleasure and amusement. The same is so true today; and so far from saying that we must have less preaching and turn more and more to other devices and expedients, I say that we have a heaven-sent opportunity for preaching.

Job And His Friends - Ilya Yefimovich-RepinWhich “Job” questions are most important for pastors when preaching Job? Are there any “Job questions” in the below list that aren’t important?

Immersed in Job as I am, one notices a number of questions that come up in “evangelical” literature. The discussion of these questions is lengthy! Some of these questions may make us mad – – and some should make us mad- – but be assured: these questions are repeatedly and increasingly discussed in evangelical circles. And, to one degree or another, they are important! How we come down on some of them will shape how we face the inevitable suffering of life.

These are not all of the questions – – these are just the ones that I can come up off the “top of my head” after studying Job in recent months. Remember – – this is a blog – – a working document where I jot down some of my thoughts when studying. I welcome your comments, though I may wait until the series begins in October to address them!

  1. Is Job historical? Did the events really take place or is the book a “thought experiment”? Is it important for those with a high view of Scripture to believe that the book is historical?
  2. Is “the Satan” Satan? Or is he a different adversary?
  3. Did God know how Job would respond in advance or was God also waiting to see what would happen?
  4. Is it important to identify the leviathan and behemoth as biological creatures? Or is it legitimate to allow that they resembled actual creatures with characteristics of ancient mythic creatures?
  5. Is the book of Job making the point that there are reasons for suffering though they may be beyond our comprehension? Or is the book making the point that sometimes there just aren’t reasons for suffering?
  6. Did the character Job say chapter 28? Or is this an interlude – – a comment by the author?
  7. How appropriate is it to immediately point to Christ from the text of Job? Is it responsible exposition of Scripture to proclaim Christ as the solution to Job’s longings (as in 9:32 ff, 19:25 ff) or was this merely Job’s unrighteous longing for someone to defend him?
  8. When preaching Job, how much time should be spent in presenting a theodicy?
  9. What is the place of Elihu? Should he be lumped together with the other “friends” or is it possible that he is a prophetic voice?
  10. How important is the dating of the book of Job?
  11. Did Job influence Isaiah’s prophecy of the Suffering Servant?
  12. Did Job believe at all in an after-life? Is he longing for “resurrection” at points? Or did he have absolutely no conception of the after-life?

Below is my current bibliography for Job. An * indicates those sources I have consulted the most in recent days, or am at least alluding to with the above questions.

*Anderson, Francis I. Job. Edited by D. J. Wiseman. Vol. 13. The Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries. Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity Press, 1976.
*Ash, Christopher. Job: The Wisdom of the Cross. Preaching the Word. Wheaton: Crossway, 2014.
*Clines, David J.A. Job 1-20. Edited by David A. Hubbard, Glenn W. Barker, and John D.W. Watts. Vol. 17a. Word Biblical Commentary. Dallas: Word, 1989.
———. Job 21-37. Edited by David A. Hubbard, Glenn W. Barker, and John D.W. Watts. Vol. 18a. Word Biblical Commentary. Dallas: Word, 2006.
———. Job 38-42. Edited by David A. Hubbard, Glenn W. Barker, and John D.W. Watts. Vol. 18b. Word Biblical Commentary. Dallas: Word, 2011.
“Credo Magazine » Reflections on the Loss of Our Daughter (Fred Zaspel).” Accessed May 1, 2014. http://www.credomag.com/2013/11/13/reflections-on-the-loss-of-our-daughter-fred-zaspel/.
Estes, Daniel J. Job. Teach the Text Commentary Series. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2013.
Guinness, Os. Unspeakable: Facing Up to Evil in an Age of Genocide and Terror. San Francisco: Harper, 2005.
*Hartley, John E. The Book of Job. Edited by R.K. Harrison. The New International Commentary on the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988.
*Keller, Timothy. “My Faith: The Danger of Asking God ‘Why Me?’” CNN Belief Blog. Accessed June 15, 2014. http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/08/04/my-faith-the-danger-of-asking-god-why-me/.
*———. Walking With God Through Pain and Suffering. New York: Dutton, 2013.
*Kidner, Derek. The Wisdom of Proverbs, Job and Ecclesiastes: An Introduction to Wisdom Literature. Downers Grove: IVP, 1985.
*Longman, Tremper III. Job. Edited by Tremper III Longman. Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2012.
Peterson, Eugene H. Job: Led By Suffering to the Heart of God. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1996.
*Piper, John. The Misery of Job and the Mercy of God. Wheaton: Crossway, 2002.
*Trueman, Carl. “Any Place for the God of Job?” Reformation 21, February 6, 2013. http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2013/02/any-place-for-the-god-of-job.php.
Tsevat, M. “The Meaning of the Book of Job.” Hebrew Union College Annual 37 (1966): 73–106.
Viberg, A. “Job.” In New Dictionary of Biblical Theology, edited by T. Desmond Alexander, Brian S. Rosner, D.A. Carson, Graeme Goldsworthy, and Steve Carter, 200–203. Downers Grove: IVP, 2000.
*Walton, John H. Job. The NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012.
*Wilson, Gerald H. Job. Edited by Robert L. Jr. Hubbard and Robert K. Johnston. New International Biblical Commentary. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson, 2007.
*Yancey, Philip. “A Fresh Look at the Book of Job.” In Sitting with Job: Selected Studies on the Book of Job, edited by Roy B. Zuck, 141–49. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1992.
Zuck, Roy. Job. Chicago: Moody Press, 1978.
Zuck, Roy B. Sitting with Job: Selected Studies on the Book of Job. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1992.

This may be of interest to the Red Bricks. Each May I have the opportunity to study with a group of friends who received D-Min degrees from Gordon-Conwell. We study with our leader Haddon Robinson  at Covenant Harbor, Lake Geneva, WI – – which is wonderfully convenient for those of us from northern Illinois as well as the “cheese-heads.”

In addition to Haddon, each year we invite a different scholar and focus on a particular book of the Bible. This year Job is our subject and  Dr. John Walton of Wheaton is our guest lecturer. Past scholars have included Dan Block, Craig Blomberg, D.A. Carson, George Guthrie, and Bruce Waltke.

It is a productive week – – and a great gift to our church through better equipping me to preach – – but it is also very demanding. We study all day long and then toss ideas back and forth in the evening. My personal goal is to come away from the week better equipped to preach to our flock. This year I studied Job in advance of coming to the retreat and will continue after I have returned to our church. Preaching requires a lot of work.

You can see some of how I begin to process my thoughts on this post.

Here is a map of where our participants hailed from this year. One of the aspects I most enjoy about our time together is connecting with leaders from across North America (and sometimes other continents).

I am so thankful for this annual opportunity and for our church’s support in allowing me to participate.

(Texas is missing due to one of our members not showing up).

Haddon Robinson Preaching Study Group 2014

You won’t learn to sweetly savor the Word of God by randomly opening up to Bible passages. Do that and you might find that the first verse you come across is Job 7:16. Instead, learn to savor the sweetness of God’s Word by being under Christ-centered preaching.

The central thought of today’s sermon was that the preaching of the Word helps people sweetly savor the truth. When Paul tells Timothy that all Scripture is God-breathed, his immediate application of that truth is that pastors (and by extension other leaders) should rebuke, correct, and train in righteousness. Hearing the Word proclaimed is indispensable.

We cannot savor the Word on our own. Those who do not hear the Word clearly proclaimed will not savor the truth. Sitting under Word-centered preaching is essential.

This does not mean that we do not believe in the doctrine of the perspicuity or clarity of Scripture. The Bible is accessible for all who read it. Yet, even then, we must be under the preaching of the Word so that we can learn to savor the Truth. We need to be like the Bereans who were more noble because they eagerly received biblical teaching, yet examined the Scriptures for themselves to see if the Word was accurately proclaimed (Acts 17:11).

In church this morning, to make the point that it does not work to just open the Bible and read the first passage we encounter, I “randomly” opened up to a passage of Scripture. The first verse that caught my attention was Job 7:16 which reads:

I loathe my life; I would not live forever.
Leave me alone, for my days are a breath.

Obviously, that verse, taken out of context, is not going to seem sweet to the soul. And yet it is in the midst of an incredibly important segment of God’s Word (and all Scripture is important!). I am looking forward to preaching from Job in the fall, and I know God will use the preaching of Job to encourage suffering people.

Again, the point is that if you want to savor the Word of God even more — do yourself a favor and watch or listen to the this sermon by Kevin DeYoung. I also highly recommend Kevin’s excellent new book Taking God At His Word: Why the Bible Is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, and What That Means for You and Me.