Category Archives: preaching

What does it mean to preach ‘the whole counsel of God’?

“I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.”

—The Apostle Paul to the Ephesian elders, Acts 20:27

D. A. Carson explains what he meant:

When Paul attests that this is what he proclaimed to the believers in Ephesus, the Ephesian elders to whom he makes this bold asseveration know full well that he had managed this remarkable feat in only two and a half years.

In other words, whatever else Paul did, he certainly did not manage to go through every verse of the Old Testament, line by line, with full-bore explanation. He simply did not have time.

What he must mean is that he taught the burden of the whole of God’s revelation, the balance of things, leaving nothing out that was of primary importance, never ducking the hard bits, helping believers to grasp the whole counsel of God that they themselves would become better equipped to read their Bibles intelligently, comprehensively.

It embraced

  • God’s purposes in the history of redemption (truths to be believed and a God to be worshiped),
  • an unpacking of human origin, fall, redemption, and destiny (aworldview that shapes all human understanding and a Saviorwithout whom there is no hope),
  • the conduct expected of God’s people (commandments to be obeyed and wisdom to be pursued, both in our individual existence and in the community of the people of God), and
  • the pledges of transforming power both in this life and in the life to come (promises to be trusted and hope to be anticipated).

—D. A. Carson, “Challenges for the Twenty-first-century Pulpit,” in Preach the Word: Essays on Expository Preaching: In Honor of R. Kent Hughes, ed. Leland Ryken and Todd Wilson [Crossway, 2007], pp. 177-178; bullets and italics added.

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Jonathon Edwards: Emotions and Preaching

I don’t think ministers are to be blamed for raising the affections of their hearers too high, if that which they are affected with be only that which is worthy of affection, and their affections are not raised beyond a proportion to their importance, or worthiness of affection.

I should think myself in the way of my duty to raise the affections of my hearers as high as possibly I can, provided that they are affected with nothing but truth, and with affections that are not disagreeable to the nature of what they are affected with.

from Desiring God

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John Chrysostom (‘Golden Mouth’)


John Chrysostom: Christian History Timeline


The dates of John Chrysostom’s birth and life until 381 are highly disputed. Many of his writings can be traced only to a general period in his life; the dates given here are generally accepted.
EARLY YEARS 349-371

349 Born in Antioch of Syria to Christian parents Secundus and Anthusa

363–367 Studies rhetoric and literature under pagan teacher Libanius

368 (Easter) Baptized at Antioch

368-371 Studies in a kind of monastic school; may have assisted bishop Meletius of Antioch

c. 368–371 Writes Comparison between a King and a Monk and several other works in favor of monastic life

c. 371 Ordained lector and serves the church of Antioch

LECTOR & DEACON 372-385

372–378 Lives in a semi-isolated state and then as a hermit until bad health forces him to give up this way of life

378–381 Lector (reads Scripture in worship) at Antioch

380 or 381 Ordained deacon (assists with sacraments); writes treatise of consolation to a young widow

381–385 Writes On the Priesthood

380 or 382 Two treatises condemning the cohabitation of clerics and virgins

PRIEST OF ANTIOCH 386-397

385 or 386 Ordained priest by Bishop Flavian of Antioch

386–387 Preaches homilies (sermons) I-X On the Incomprehensible Nature of God and Against the Jews (i.e., Christians who follow Jewish religious practices)

387 Antioch riots; John preaches sermons On the Statues

388 or 389 Eight instructions for baptismal candidates

390–397 Homilies on Genesis, Matthew, John, and 6 NT letters

397 Homilies on selected Psalms and on Isaiah

ARCHBISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE 398-403

398 Consecrated bishop of Constantinople. Takes steps to reform imperial court, clergy, and people; homilies XI-XII On the Incomprehensible Nature of God

398–402 Homilies on Philippians and Colossians

399 Gives Eutropius sanctuary and preaches two homilies on the vanity of human power

400 Homilies on the Book of Acts

402 Group of Egyptian monks (the “Tall Brothers”) appeal to John for help

403 John tried at the Synod of the Oak; convicted, deposed, and exiled; immediately recalled

403–404 Homilies on Hebrews

EXILE 404-407

404 Deposed and exiled to Cucusus (in eastern Turkey)

404–407 Writes more than 200 letters to friends

407 Sent to Pityus on the Black Sea and dies en route, at Comana in Pontus (in northeast Turkey)

State Falls, Church Rises

360-363 Emperor Julian (“the Apostate”) attempts to restore pagan religion

379-395 Emperor Theodosius I (“the Great”) gradually makes Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire

381 Council of Constantinople declares the Holy Spirit divine; Constantinople becomes second seat of Christendom (after Rome)

390 Theodosius orders massacre in Thessalonica; confronted by Ambrose of Milan, he publicly repents

394 Bishop Ninian sets out from Rome to convert Scotland

407 Roman legions in Britain withdraw to protect Italy

410 Visigoths under Alric sack Rome; empire is psychologically shaken

413 Augustine begins writing City of God, the classic philosophy of history, in response to Rome’s sack

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2 Timothy series link

The new St Paul’s website is slowly expanding its sermon library. The plan is to upload all of our back catalogue, searchable by date, preacher and text (awesome! Tim Hawkins classics!)

In the meantime, the recent 2 Timothy series from 7pm is now all up online here.

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a preacher’s nightmare

I reckon there’s a common nightmare that preachers share. Its the one where you go to bed on Saturday night thinking everything’s ok, wake up and turn up to church on Sunday morning, only to find that you are rostered to preach that morning. And you’ve done nothing.

I went close to living out that nightmare yesterday. For varying reasons, I turned up for 8am church quite early. And I left my mobile at home.

So, at 7.45am, one of the Wardens of the church said, ‘Did you get the message from the Senior Minister?’

‘Um – what message?’

He showed me the message on his phone. The Senior was sick, and wasn’t coming. ‘Keith will look after the sermon.’

As it turns out, the Senior has messaged me early and told me to do my 5pm sermon from the previous week, but, having left early, and having left my phone at home, I hadn’t received that message!

Soooo – I preached the passage. 15 minutes notice. No notes. Romans 8:12-30.

It was terrifying, and exhilerating, all at the same time.

And, no stones were thrown at the end, so God was good.

I’m preaching there next Sunday. I am very tempted to do the same thing to the Senior, but he’s on hols, so I guess I’ll just prepare and preach…

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Luther on preaching

…I believe that it has now become clear that it is not enough or in any sense Christian to preach the works, life, and words of Christ as historical facts, as if the knowledge of these would suffice forthe conduct of life; yet this is the fashion among those who must today be regarded as our best preachers.

Far less is it sufficient or Christian to say nothing at all about Christ and to teach instead all the laws of men and the decrees of the fathers. Now there are not a few who preach Christ and read about him that they may move men’s affections to sympathy with Christ, to anger against the Jews, and such childish and effeminate nonsense.

Rather ought Christ to be preached to the end that faith in him may be established that he may not only be Christ, but be Christ for you and me, and that what is said of him and is denoted in his name may be effectual in us. Such faith is produced and preserved in us by preaching why Christ came, what he brought and bestowed, what benefit it is to us to accept him.

This is done when that Christian liberty which he bestows is rightly taught and we are told in what way we Christians are all kings and priests and therefore lords of all and may firmly believe that whatever we have done is pleasing and acceptable in the sight of God, as I have already said.

On Christian Liberty, Augsburg Fortress Press 2003, 31-2.

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preaching link added

I’ve just added a link to the sermons page for All Souls, Langham Place.

It has an awesome library of sermons, searchable by text and speaker, to name a few.

It goes back many years, so you can find just about anyone in the who’s who of evangelical preachers from the last 20 years, including Stott, Carson, and even our own Chappo and Paul Barnett.

Highly recommended.

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Preaching ‘Sola Power’

I am preaching my second sermon at St Paul’s tomorrow, the first at ‘main site’. It is an interesting series, on the ‘Sola’ slogans of the Reformation. Tomorrow’s topic is ‘Sola Scriptura’.

It has reminded me how difficult it is to preach topically/ theologically. I remember hearing Don Carson say once that you shouldn’t attempt to preach such until you’ve been at the task of preaching for more than 10 years. I have seen afresh waht he means!

This sermon has been a delicate balance of communicating the Doctrine of Revelation, exegeting 2 Tim 2:15-17, correcting the error of Roman Catholicism, and applying ‘Bible Alone’ to contemporary Christian. And at 8am, I only have a tight 20 minutes! No wonder I have a headache tonight.

Anyway, we’ll see how we go!

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John Piper on the ‘prosperity gospel’

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Carson audio link

I’m a big fan of Don Carson from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in the US. I heard him recently at the preaching conference I attended, and enjoy his scholarship and passionate delivery on ANY topic from Scripture.

I found this link listing many of his audio resources. Enjoy.

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