Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Banner of Truth 2009 -- Persuasive Preaching 1 by Alistair Begg

<Persuasive Preaching – Alistair Begg (Session #2)

We were told that Alistair was going to speak not on Job but on Persuasive Preaching

2 Corinthians 5:11-21

11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. 12 We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart. 13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

The purpose of this talk is to introduce preaching that confronts, that seeks to pursuade others.

Murry--”Preaching is a personal, passionate plea.” based on 2 Cor. 5:20. This was Paul's approach. He did not give orations, or testimonies that people could do with as they will. He sought to convince or persuade them from the Scripture. He was urgent, bold, clear and stove to convince. That is what is exhibited in Acts through Biblical exposition.

This was not only his practice, but his precept. So it is what he sought to teach and call others to do as well. It was what he called Timothy too as well.

It is important to pause and recognize that to do this and to teach this was often costly. He paid a price for doing this in opposition and trouble. So it was for Timothy. Remember the call to Timothy 1 Tim 1:8 to join Paul in his suffering.

Similarly in 2 Corinthians we find the exact same frame work. Trouble, distress and great pressure are words that mark the beginning of that letter.

Doing this is not a soft option even today. If we are going to do this today it will be a hard course. At the beginning of this letter Paul points out that all this happened so that he would realize all he did must be done in trust in God. Similarly in chapter 12 with the thorn in the flesh. This type of preaching was one one hand facing sever human opposition and on the other divine compulsion. If we do not share that divine compulsion, we will not be able to be bold as he was.

Preaching is unpopular. If you look generally in the congregations of the nation you will find that it is. In particular, preaching that is persuasive is unpopular.

When speaking about persuasive preaching we are talking about the sort of preaching God ordained, grounded in the Scriptures, done in the knowledge that God deins to us people like us to proclaim thisn great and glorious message.

That challenge before us, in particular in light of the unpopularity of this (2 Cor. 4 blinded eyes) is this is a message that people are blind to, Satan opposes. He is not upset about Christian morality, family values, or a whole host of other things where we can preach for months without the cross.

Three Challenges:

  1. The personal challenge

Some of us are naturally fearful and timid. Some of us actually use that as a basis for us not to be bold in our approach saying we are incapable of this. God did not ask us to stand between the majesty of his holiness and his people in their needs and hide behind our weaknesses. He put the treasure in clay pot. We are talking about the persuasive work of God's Spirit when we speak of being persuasive as God uses this little, insignificant person.

Some of us face the situation of self preservation. So we may be tempted to step back from the preaching of the law or the cross of Christ. Especially in terms of evangelism

And the danger of familiarity. We can become so used to it we miss the glory and the grace of the task.

  1. Cultural Challenges

We live in a culture much like “Waiting for Godot.” A world that is a joke filled with meaninglessness. That is the world we live in, and which people come out of. The only danger to them is a persuasive preacher. People don't want prerequisites, perplexity, or exposition. If we remove these things from preaching, we have something, it is called entertainment. This is where things are going. Don't introduce perplexity, prerequisites, or exposition. Just enjoy we are here for your safety and comfort. Paul introduced all these things because he did not look at people like he used to, how the world does.

  1. Biblical Theology

Some of us are in danger because of our deep seated and right convictions. If we are not careful, as a result, we can become almost tongue tied when we come to the point of pressing on people the necessity to believe. Our churches should pulse with the urgency of gospel proclamation. God commands all people everywhere to repent (Acts 17.) In the worst of cases there is almost an abandonment of evangelism at all, or at least evangelistic preaching. Edification and multiplication, but not taking seriously the task to persuade men and women. Sometimes seen in “a conspicuous awkwardness in a preaching the free offer of the gospel.” Men who are laboring under the inhibitions that offer the free offer of the gospel and persuade people we somehow or another it impinges on the sovereignty of God almost as if we think the non-elect might be saved. But the call and the sovereign choosing of God go together. Look at Matthew 11:25-30.

If the enemies of persuasive preaching are confusion, fear and complacency; the remedy is:

First of all clarity:

To know and be clear what we are persuading people to. That the gospel is to be presented full and free (2 Cor. 5:19.) As a person who preached at the church Alistair pastors said, “For something to get clean, something else has to get dirty.” That is the gospel. This is the wonderful story we have to tell. Christ taking our sins, that we might be clean. The good news is God has dealt with our alienation through Christ's righteousness imputed to us.

Second authority:

It is the reconciled who become the messengers of this good news. We are God's ambassadors. Sent on behalf of Christ. That is where the authority comes. His representative, committing to us this message of reconciliation, knowing what it is to fear the lord. Because we fear the Lord we try to persuade men. We are convinced, so we seek to persuade because the love of Christ compels us. The fear of God. The prospect of standing before him with pants on fire or with gold, silver, and precious jewels. It is the love of Christ seen in the cross that compels us. This is especially, but not exclusively, on ministers. Not to glorify the minister but to comfort the listeners so that when then hear the gospel they might know that God is dealing with them.

Third, urgency:

The gospel is polar opposites—heaven/hell, alienation/reconciliation, etc. Realizing that gives urgency. We know the truth of hell, and the glory of heaven. When you fish your wife asks you one question, “Did you catch anything?” and she is completely unimpressed when you answer, “No, but I influenced a few.” Expect people to be converted and preach in light of it anticipating such.

The most persuasive have been clear, bold and urgent.


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