Friday, August 11, 2017

Preaching with Power, Like Jesus Christ Did

Luke 4:32 reads:

And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power.
και εξεπλησσοντο επι τη διδαχη αυτου οτι εν εξουσια ην ο λογος αυτου.

Would you like to preach with power, the way Christ did?  Many people have unbiblical ideas about what this would involve.  The word "power" in this text is the Greek word exousia, which means "power" in the sense of "authority."  In other words, Luke 4:32 teaches the same truth as Matthew 7:28-29: 

And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

και εγενετο οτε συνετελεσεν ο ιησους τους λογους τουτους εξεπλησσοντο οι οχλοι επι τη διδαχη αυτου:  ην γαρ διδασκων αυτους ως εξουσιαν εχων και ουχ ως οι γραμματεις.

Christ preached with power because He authoritatively proclaimed the Word of God as Jehovah's great Prophet to His people (Deuteronomy 18:15-18).  If you want to preach with power, the way Christ did, then you should do the following:

1.) As a regenerate saint, strive after greater holiness by the grace of the Father through the Son by the Spirit, that you might be like Christ in all things.
2.) Take great pains to very carefully study the Word of God.
3.) Properly and with laborious study exegete the Word properly, trusting in the illumination of the Holy Spirit.
4.) Boldly and authoritatively apply that Word after you carefully unpack and exegete it to the minds and hearts of your congregation (or the lost, if you are preaching on the street, etc.)

We can see that a godly pastor who practices expository preaching, going verse-by-verse through Scripture and carefully applying it, should rejoice that he is able to preach with power--Divine authority--in this manner, and can expect the blessing of the Trinity on his preaching.  Hallelujah!

We can also see from Luke 4:32 and Matthew 7:28-29 that someone who thinks he is preaching with power because, while ripping a verse or two of God's holy Word out of context, he yells a lot, gives a lot of tear-jerking illustrations, walks around during his message, and gets many people to walk forward and kneel at the front of a church auditorium by manipulating them at an invitation is not preaching with power.

If you have thought that doing the latter was preaching with power rather than the former, you should repent now, because otherwise it will not be very good for you at the judgment seat of Christ when you find out that what you thought was power was actually wood, hay, and stubble.

If you have been preaching with power the way Christ did, be encouraged to continue very carefully expositing and applying the Word, and grow in your practice of these spiritual disciplines, that you might preach with greater power or authority the holy Word to the glory of the holy Trinity.

As an addendum, the Spirit illuminated the truth in this post to me while reading my Greek Textus Receptus. Consider taking the time to learn Greek well, that you might preach with more power.


37 comments:

Matthew Devers said...

But the louder you yell the more right it sounds. Thanks for this. It's a reminder that it's more about your standing before God and how you handle scripture.

Anonymous said...

Hello, I am trying to send a response to this post, but it is not allowing me to do so, and comes back saying "Your HTML cannot be accepted. Must be at most 4,096 characters." Can anyone help with this? I would appreciate it.

Jason

KJB1611 said...

Dear Jason,

If you cut your comment into shorter parts it should post.

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Do you mean breaking down what I wrote into separate responses and sending them separately, or do I have to delete a portion of what I wrote in order for it to send? Thanks!

Jason

KJB1611 said...

Just make it smaller, make one big comment like 4 small ones, and it should post just fine.

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Brother Ross,
I greatly appreciate this much needed post, even though I would disagree with certain aspects of what you said, and seem to be implying with some of your statements. As an Independent Baptist missionary I have had the unique opportunity of visiting numerous Independent Baptist Churches during deputation and furlough and listening to the preaching. As you probably know, there is a mixed bag of preaching in IFB circles (some good; a lot bad), and I have my own views regarding this subject that I would like to mention. The total response will be sent in three parts separately, as the blog is not allowing me to send it all together.
{Part 1}

As I see it, and have witnessed, the preaching in IFB circles usually falls within two groups.
1) You have those who associate preaching with power as synonymous with yelling, charisma in the pulpit, or many times just flat out being obnoxious in the pulpit. Preachers who preach this way call this "hard preaching" when in reality it is preaching in the flesh, and not in the spirit. I particularly don't like the phrase "hard preaching", because it more often than not means that you will hear and witness much of the foolishness that I just mentioned. The IFB churches that generally promulgate this method of preaching are the Hyles type churches and Steven Anderson type churches. Consequently, they refer to anything different than their method of preaching as being weak, or powerless preaching. You alluded to this type of preaching in this post.
2) You also have those who emphasize expository preaching as the only type of preaching that should ever be done in the pulpit. Now, let me say that I am in agreement with you that all preaching from God's word should be expository, and exegetical. But hear is my problem with much of the expository preaching that I have witnessed in IFB churches.
(A) In my opinion it should more properly be classified as expository "teaching" and not expository "preaching." Anyone who does not know the difference between the two probably should not be preaching. As one preacher once said, and rightly, all true Biblical preaching will obviously contain teaching within the message, but teaching in and of itself is certainly not preaching. Biblical preaching will move people to action; Biblical teaching mainly deals with informing by way of Biblical facts. Based on that, I would have to say that much of what Independent Baptists refer to as preaching, is really just teaching. I also fear that because of the false view of preaching that we have of the Hyles/Anderson brand, many Independent Baptists have retreated to this opposite extreme of equating their expository teaching as being expository preaching. I would disagree with you that expository verse by verse “preaching” always results in powerful, or authoritative preaching. When I first got saved I sat under the ministry of a preacher who only practiced what he called “expository preaching.” But in all honesty, even though he was carefully going verse by verse through the KJV, while also referring to the Greek, I sensed very little practical power or authority coming from the pulpit. It was more mechanical than anything else. I personally refer to myself as an expository preacher. However, I believe that the correct definition of expository preaching is to take a passage of scripture (not a whole chapter, as too much information will be given at once, and you will lose your audience), exposit and exegete the text, and then powerfully apply it in an expository manner as well. Which leads to my next concern with much that is called “expository preaching.”

Jason

Anonymous said...

{Part 2)

(B) The “expository preaching” in most Independent Baptist Churches is pathetically weak in application. I was glad that you mentioned the application as one of your conditions for powerful authoritative preaching, but here is what I have seen, and am seeing in IFB churches. So much time is spent by the preacher in giving historical background information and expositing the text, that his application is usually very weak and vague. For example: telling people to love not the world impacts no one if the preacher does not get into specifics about what the world, and the things of this world actually are. Not dealing with specifics in the application is preaching in generalities, and professing believers leave the house of God with their minds filled with Biblical information, but consequently their lives are rarely impacted or changed toward godliness because of the powerless application.

I have no problem with the four conditions that you listed as prerequisites for powerful preaching Brother Ross, as they are all good and very important. But I would add a very crucial one: the prayer life of the preacher. This was far more emphasized in the past than it is today amongst preachers I fear. The truth is, a preacher can meet all of those four conditions that you mentioned, but if he has a weak prayer life, than he is powerless in the pulpit, regardless of how great an expositor he is. In my opinion, the greatest manual on preaching outside the word of God is EM Bounds book on prayer formerly titled “Preacher and prayer,” but now titled “Power through prayer.” It is not a homiletical manual on how to preach, but rather a book that emphasizes that the way to have the unction of God upon you as you preach, comes no other way but through much time alone with God in prayer. That is the example that Christ left for us as one who was in constant communion with God the Father through private prayer. That was the source of Christ’s power and authority in preaching, and the disciples knew it, which is why one of them cried out to Christ in (Luke 11:1) – “Lord, teach us to pray.”

Jason

KJB1611 said...

Dear Jason,

Thanks for the comments.

1.) I agree with you that Hyles-type preaching is not really preaching the Word.

2.) I believe that if a church does not get regular verse-by-verse preaching, there are large sections of the Bible that will never be preached, and that will hinder the growth of the saints. I do not believe that one must always and only practice this sort of preaching, though. Clearly there are sermons in Acts that are not verse-by-verse.

3.) Failing to do what we see in Acts, such as persuading and making strong application, is not Biblical, either in preaching or in teaching. I would by no means endorse that in preaching, but I would also go beyond you to say that it is wrong in teaching also, at least if we define teaching the way the Bible does. There must always be application of the Word to the hearer by the Spirit.

I think if you listen to the sermons of Pastor Brandenburg and the other brethren at Bethel Baptist in El Sobrante you will see a good model of expository, verse-by-verse preaching that is also strong on application and is specific.

4.) I would also agree that the prayer is very, very important; after all, the leaders were to give themselves continually to prayer (#1) and the ministry of the Word (#2) in Acts, and that is why deacons were appointed in the first place (Acts 6).

5.) You may have read more of E. M. Bounds than I have, and perhaps he is better than what I have read of him, but I have not been impressed with what I read by Bounds, and I would be careful of the fact that he, as a good Methodist, would have believed in Wesley's perfectionst and second blessing doctrines. I hope that he denounces baptismal regeneration also--something that Wesley preached--do you have any quotes from him opposing this false gospel?

6.) While this should absolutely not be taken in any way to limit the extremely great importance of prayer, could you please explain from the Bible alone your doctrine of unction in preaching and how you derive it from Scripture alone, not from Scripture + E. M. Bounds and his second blessing ideas? Are you saying that there is something teaching it in the context of Luke 11:1? Where does Luke 11:1 make the connection you are making?

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

{Part 3}

One last thing, I am concerned about what you seem to be implying with your last statement about the Spirit of God illuminating this truth to you as you read your Textus Receptus. That seems to imply that those of us who don’t read Greek cannot be illuminated to this truth the same way that you were. I am not trying to judge you in your motives for saying that, but when a preacher makes a remark like that it will tend to affect the common believer’s confidence in the Bible that he has in his hands. You followed that remark with one that I found equally, if not more troubling, when you said “Consider taking the time to learn Greek well, that you might preach with more power.” That says to me that I cannot preach with the same type of power or authority as a preacher who knows the original languages, unless I learn them myself. I strongly disagree with that Brother Ross. I don’t believe that you intended it to come across this way, but that statement comes across as being of an elitist mentality. For the record by the way, I am not a Ruckmanite, just someone who believes that what I hold in my hands in the Authorized Version is just as reliable, inspired, inerrant, and authoritative as those who cleave to the Masoretic text and Textus Receptus as their final authority. The ironic thing, is that both of those positions are conditioned on faith in God’s promise of preservation, as the originals don’t exist. Again, I am not disparaging the original languages in any way, and I know that the KJV is a translation. But by faith I believe that The KJV in my hands is just as authoritative as the preserved copies of the original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts that many by faith claim to possess. If I did not believe that as an English speaking man, than what final authority would I have?

I will end this reply with an interesting account from centuries ago. The renowned Puritan preacher and scholar John Owen, who was a Greek and Hebrew scholar, once went to hear the man named John Bunyan preach. After this Greek and Hebrew scholar listened to this man who had no understanding of the original languages preach Christ, he replied that he would happily exchange all his learning (including his Hebrew and Greek) for the ability to preach Christ with the power and authority that John Bunyan displayed. What can we conclude from that? We can conclude that power and authority in preaching does not come through a grasp of the original languages, or by some sort of homiletical gift, but rather through much fellowship with the Lord in prayer. John Owen recognized this difference, but preachers today seem to be missing it.

I do very much appreciate the post Brother Ross, and overall, I do like what you were emphasizing.

Jason

KJB1611 said...

Dear Jason,


Thanks for comment #3.


I know that I would not have been able to write the content of this post if I had not been reading the NT in Greek, and I must disagree if you believe that stating that one will be able to know the Word better (and thus be able to proclaim it more authoritatively/powerfully) if he knows the languages in which God gave that Word is not justifiable (and that, of course, is all that I am claiming, and pride, etc. is not the point at all.) Also, while accurate translations retain the breath of God on them, they do not have equal authority to the original--they are only authoritative because / when they accurately translate the original and they derive all their authority only from the original (see, e. g., the exegesis at http://faithsaves.net/theopneustos/ ). God preserved every Word that He inspired perfectly (Matthew 5:18-19) and He inspired and preserved Greek and Hebrew words. There is not a different final authority in every language, but only one final authority, including for English speakers.


You concluded from your story about Owen and Bunyan that one gets unction from much fellowship with the Lord in prayer. Again, prayer should by no means be disparaged in any way, but could you give me the part where Owen said "Bunyan prays more than I do and that is why he can preach in such a compelling way" or where Owen said "If I only spent more time praying and less time in Greek and Hebrew then I would be able to preach more powerfully" or even "Bunyan prays more than I do; I pray less than him or with less faith"? I wouldn't be surprised if Bunyan prayed more and God was closer to him, as he was a Baptist in prison for the faith rather than an infant sprinkler who was part of a state "church," but you seem to have left out the part where Owen made the point you want him to make.


Far more importantly, could you please prove your doctrine of unction from Scripture alone, not from E. M. Bounds or an anecdote from John Owen?


Thanks.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Jason,

Let's say that your comments were preaching. How would they have had the power of God? A few points.

1) Every believer has the power of God, all of it. He has the indwelling Holy Spirit, so he doesn't need to pray for power. E. M. Bounds didn't believe that. Do you think it's a good thing to keep praying for something we already have? Have. God gave it to us. It's faithless. Faithlessness isn't powerful. It doesn't please God. (Heb 11:6)

2) The Holy Spirit uses scripture (Eph 6:17). A manifestation of the Holy Spirit is speaking as the oracles of God (1 Pet 4:10-11).

3) However, if it isn't what the passage says, that isn't the Holy Spirit, that is you. It isn't scripture if it isn't what the passage is saying.

4) Did you notice that "power" is exousia in Mt 7 and Luke 4, the passages Thomas quoted? That is a different word that a few other Greek words translated power. It means "authority." Jesus spoke with authority, that is, like His Words were coming directly from God. Our authority comes from what scripture says, not from something else. It definitely doesn't come from a questionable story and a quotation from E. M. Bounds, who was wrong on a lot and hurt a lot of people.

More could be said, but I think you should take those into consideration. They are making an application to you from scripture by the way. Are they teaching, are they preaching? You say that someone has to know the meaning of both. I think that is good, but how do you think someone understands the meaning of both. I'm not sure you know. I hope you do, but I'm not sure you do.

Anonymous said...

Kent,
You mentioned you don't pray for power. Would you say that a preacher who is saved and indwelt by the Holy Spirit can preach with unconfessed sin in his life and be just as effective as if there is no sin, as long as he has exegeted the passage and speaks what the passage says? In other words the preacher prepares the message and exegetes the passage and has everything ready to go and then Sunday morning yells at his wife, grieves the Holy Spirit and then goes and preaches exactly the same words as he would of had he been right with God, is he just as effective?

As far as Jason's comment above about how expository preaching can turn into intellectualism, I think he is on to something. There is ALOT of deadness in church pulpits. Paul came in demonstration of the Spirit and of power. The disciples in Acts were "unlearned" men but the people "took note of them that they had been with Jesus." Their fellowship and communion with God was key to their power and being used.

I heard of a preacher who said for every ten minutes of his message he would plan an hour of prayer prior to preaching. If prayer is, in a sense, saying to God I can't do this without you, then it seems like that preacher understood he was useless without God's power. I think that is a challenge to every preacher who reads this. How much do you need God when you are in the pulpit? Do you feel utterly dependent upon his power and strength or have you gotten so good at study and exegeting the scriptures that you feel pretty confident in your abilities (the flesh). Don't forget that ministering in the flesh doesn't reap life.

Thanks,
Rich

James Bronsveld said...

According to Phil. 1:12-18, yes, Rich, in answer to your opening questions about the pastor with indwelling sin on Sunday morning, he would be just as effective when preaching "the same words" that he preached whether he was right with God or not. You might also want to consider I Cor. 1:4-7 in light of the significant spiritual deficiencies outlined through the remainder of the epistle.

The trouble with the use of questionable anecdotes (e.g. Owen/Bunyan, or the pastor who says he commits to 1 hour of prayer for every 10 minutes of preaching), is that they further undermine the very power (authority) of Scripture spoken of in this post. Scripture says one thing (misinterpretations of Acts 4:13 notwithstanding), but anecdotes are looked to as the valued iconclasts to topple it. After extensive reading of the great IFB prayer-icons of Ravenhill, Hyde, Mueller, Torrey, Meyer, Tozer, Bounds, Andrew Murray, etc., I have been impressed at how consistently anecdotes play such a significant role in the authority of their message, due in a large part to a lack of exegetical support from carefully studied Scripture passages (which is the basis for this post!).

In the same circles, prayer has been elevated by traveling revivalists and contemporary writers to an unscriptural position above the study of the Word of God as being "the" source for power. (Does the pastor who commits to 1 hour of prayer for every 10 minutes of preaching likewise commit to at least 1-2 hours of study for that same message?) It evidences itself in the unscriptural prayers and petitions that are routinely offered in churches. I don't believe this is by accident. Prayer consists of the words of men. Scripture consists of the words of God. An unscriptural movement will not look to the words of God for authority, but rather remain enamoured with the words of men. Yet to look to the words of men as the means by which men receive "power" is to reject the authority of God. It is also, as noted by Bro. Brandenburg, faithless.

From reading your comment and Jason's comment, I see what seems to be both a misunderstanding of sanctification and of what it means to be filled with the Spirit, or even to be in communion with God. I'd encourage you to read Bro. Ross's in-depth study on vivification at faithsaves.net.

The power is not in the people. The power is in the carefully studied, properly exegeted, and faithfully proclaimed and applied Word of God.

KJB1611 said...

Dear Rich,

I believe that a pastor who is a hypocrite will have every aspect of his ministry hindered by the displeasure of God, including his preaching. That does not mean that the Word loses its power, though--I was converted after being referred to Galatians 2:16 by a woman minister who, looking back, was very likely unregenerate. I thank God for His Spirit's illuminating, drawing, and regenerating power through the Word, even in the hands of a disobedient and likely unregenerate person.

You alluded to 1 Corinthians 2:4, "demonstration of the Spirit and of power." This (different from the post, where exousia is employed) Greek word for power is dunamis, translated as "miracles" in texts such as 1 Cor 12:10, 28, 29. That is not necessarily the only type of use of dunamis in 1 Cor, of course, but could you please explain exactly what you think 1 Cor 2:4 means, and why you think dunamis/power means what you think it means exegetically in that verse? Why isn't it saying that Paul proved his apostolic office by doing miracles when he went to Corinth (2 Cor 12:12, where dunamis also appears)?

Are you saying that when the Sanhedrin took note of the apostles that they had been with Jesus this is not saying that they had actually been His close followers on earth who were literally with Christ and literally following Him around, but that, instead, the Sanhedrin discerned from the apostle's lives in a few minutes, or by looking at them, that they had close spiritual fellowship with the risen Christ? If the Sanhedrin can figure out just by looking at people that they have had close fellowship with Christ, how come the Apostles did not figure out Judas was a fake for three years? Did the Sanhedrin have more spiritual discernment than the Apostles?

Are you saying that studying and properly exegeting and applying the Scripture is something that the flesh can do properly, that it does not take the illumination of the Spirit? Are you saying ability to do this is not the work of the Spirit? Does God ordinarily work in us to will and to do (Phil 2:13), so that the careful study is ultimately His work, or are you arguing that it isn't the Spirit unless it is not us willing and doing?

When you allude to "ministering in the flesh does not reap life" are you referring to the Keswick misinterpretation of 2 Cor 3 that makes the "death" in that text something other than spiritual death that the unregenerate have, that leads to the second death in hell, but instead some kind of "death" that believers allegedly experience when they aren't in the Higher Life? What is your exegetical basis for this?

Do you think that you have the power of God when you are saying that "they had been with Jesus" is not actually the Apostles being with Christ when He was on earth, and when you make allusions to other verses to prove your argument that do not appear to be saying what you are claiming? Do you think you have Divine authority/power in such situations?

Jason may or may not be on to something--and nobody is defending application-less preaching, prayerlessness, etc. here, so I appreciate and agree with him on that--but I want to see him prove his point on unction exegetically from Scripture.

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Gentlemen,
I do plan on responding to the responses that have been made to my original reply to Brother Ross' post, but I will not be able to do so until Monday or Tuesday. This exchange has been very interesting.

Jason

Anonymous said...

{Part 5}

As far as preachers are concerned, no preacher can be filled with the Spirit if he is not a man given to prayer. That would be the equivalent of saying that a Christian could walk in the presence of God, or experience the presence of God upon his life without spending time alone with the Lord. It cannot happen. And no man can have a full manifestation of this divine “unction” or “anointing” with its resulting boldness and power in preaching as we saw in the disciples, if he is not a man given to prayer. I simply believe that being a faithful expositor of God’s word, as vitally important as that is, will not allow us preachers to have a fullness of God’s “unction” if we are weak in the discipline of prayer. Call that heresy if you want, but I will die believing that, and answer to God one way or the other when I stand before him.

As far as the story that I referenced relating to John Owen and John Bunyan, I do stand to be corrected for my comments. I made an assumption regarding the prayer life of John Bunyan that I really can’t prove by way of an actual quotation from John Owen. I would clarify my comments by saying this. John Owen obviously saw in John Bunyan a man who was in many respects ignorant in his learning or scholasticism (not knowing Hebrew or Greek), but he also recognized that John Bunyan had an anointing in preaching that he did not possess, which led Owen to make the statement that I referenced. If someone wants to say that John Bunyan’s communion with God through his KJB and prayer had nothing to do with his anointing in preaching, then that is fine. But something accounted for the difference that Owen noticed.

I would also like to clarify the remarks that I made in regards to (Luke 11:1). The point that I was seeking to emphasize is that the disciples recognized that private prayer was the preeminent discipline of Christ’s life. They heard him preach; they witnessed the miracles; but they knew that the foundation of those two things was the amount of time that Christ devoted to personal communion with the Father through private prayer.

Jason

Anonymous said...

{Part 6}

Finally Brother Ross, I would like to address the reply that you gave in regards to my initial reply to what you said in your post about studying the Greek in order to preach with more power. I don’t want to drag this out, as I don’t believe that either one of us are going to influence the other to accept our conviction on this. Here are my concerns with what you said.
*95% or more of the members in IFB churches have no understanding of the Hebrew and Greek languages. William Tyndale gave his life, and ultimately died at the stake so that the common man plowing in the field could have God’s word in his mother tongue. I would ask you this Brother Ross, or anyone else who may read these comments. If there is only one final authority for every people group on the earth, which as you say is the preserved copies of the original scriptures in Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic; then did William Tyndale die in vain? Maybe he should have invested his life in educating the common people with little education about how to have a working knowledge of Hebrew and Greek. Then, and then alone could they be sure that they had a final authority to educate and guide them in their faith and practice.

I am an Independent Baptist Missionary seeking to fulfill the Great Commission in a very poor Spanish speaking country. The people in the two churches that my family has established barely have a working knowledge of their own mother tongue-Spanish. We have studied and have come to the conclusion that the Spanish Bible that we use should be the standard for all Spanish speaking Christians, as it is the only one that I know of that was translated exclusively from the Hebrew Masoretic text and the Textus Receptus. Our people believe that what they hold in their hands is their final authority in the language that they speak. I don’t stand before them and say ‘this word that was translated this way in your Bible really means this in the Hebrew or Greek.’ That would confuse them, and destroy their confidence in what they hold in their hands. And the Bible says in (1 Corinthians 14:33) that God is not the author of confusion. You believe that there cannot be a final authority for every language, and I say why not? If the translations are being done the right way from God’s preserved manuscripts like the KJV was, then why not? The fact that we don’t have a final authority in every language on the earth is not God’s fault, it is mans’ fault. Man has dropped the ball there.

Jason

Anonymous said...

{Part 7}

*I am concerned where this thinking will eventually lead to Brother Ross. The majority of professing Christians in IFB churches don’t even faithfully read and study their Bibles consistently now, even with the knowledge that they have a perfect Bible in the KJV. What would happen if every IFB pastor became a Hebrew and Greek scholar and then took the liberty every Lord’s Day to tell the people about all of the mistranslations in their Bibles, or better renderings, or what the Biblical writer really meant in Hebrew and Greek? Do you honestly believe that would encourage the average church member to more faithfully study the Bible that he or she possessed? They would think, ‘I don’t know what my preacher is talking about, so I will just take it for granted that what he is saying is correct.’ At that point, forget about the church members being Bereans who will search the scriptures daily (Acts 17:11). Why be a Berean if what you possess is in question, and not really your final authority?

*Lastly, I am not about to tell our men studying to preach that they will never be able to have the fullness of God’s power in their preaching unless they learn Hebrew and Greek. If that is what God wants from preachers, then why did he providentially allow Bible translations to come into the world to begin with?

In closing, I want you to know Brother Ross that I have been greatly helped and encouraged by many things that both you and Brother Bradenburg stand for, and have written about. The material that you both have put out through your website and his blog regarding the doctrine of salvation has been a great blessing and encouragement to me. Very few IFB preachers are boldly standing for the truth regarding the Lordship/repentance issue; discipleship; the doctrine of the church; and Historic Baptist (Biblical) doctrine as a whole. I pray that nothing that I have stated in my comments has come across as being offensive. If it has, I apologize. For the record Brother Ross, I don’t believe that you were prideful either in your post or in the statements that you made in reply to me. Your spirit and humility in responding were a blessing, and Christlike.

Sincerely in Christ,
Jason

Anonymous said...

Gentlemen,
I have taken the time to carefully read the different responses, and I would now like to respond. Brother Ross, Brother Bradenburg, and Brother Bronsveld seem to agree in what they are saying, so some of what I will say will be directed to all three of you, while certain comments will be addressed to each of you individually. As before, the comments will be broken down, this time into seven smaller parts that will be sent separately, as the blog is giving me difficulty in replying.

{Part 1}

Brother Ross,
I appreciate you taking the time to respond to my comments. I have carefully read your responses, and I would first like to ask you what, if any distinction would you make between Biblical preaching and Biblical teaching? Actually, I would be interested to know how Brother Bradenburg and Brother Bronsveld would respond to that question as well. I think that I have stated very clearly what I believe the distinction is between Biblical preaching and Biblical teaching, but since Brother Bradenburg suggested that I might be confused about the two, I would like to hear from you three gentlemen regarding what you believe the distinction is between preaching and teaching.

Next, I am glad Brother Ross to see that you have a high view of the importance of prayer in the life of a preacher of God’s word. (Acts 6) clearly substantiates that, as you cited.

Brother Bronsveld,
Do you think that it is a coincidence that those disciples in (Acts 6:4) designated prayer as the first thing, and then the ministry of the word (preaching/teaching) as the second thing that they would give themselves to continually as ministers of God’s word? In light of the priority given to prayer in that passage, even before preaching/teaching, that preacher that Brother Rich referenced who committed himself to one hour of prayer to every ten minutes of preaching doesn’t seem to be as unscriptural as you seem to believe that he is. You said, “Prayer consists of the words of men. Scripture consists of the words of God.” I believe that is certainly true in regards to scripture, but in regards to prayer, does not scripture make it clear that true prayer is done primarily by the interceding work of the Holy Spirit within every believer? So even though the believer is audibly praying in words from his own mouth, I don’t think that you can just say without clarification that “Prayer consists of the words of men,” unless of course a professing believer is praying in the flesh (James 4:3). It minimizes the role of the Holy Spirit in true prayer in my opinion, and it does not take into account that no believer could pray acceptably unto God without the interceding work of the Spirit of God within him. You might call that Charasmaticism, I however will call it simply believing the Bible in light of the following passages: (Romans 8:26, 27) (I Corinthians 14:15) (Ephesians 6:18) (Jude 1:20).

As to your concern that I am confused about sanctification and what it means to be filled with the Spirit, or even to be in communion with God, I would say that to be filled with the Spirit means that a believer is manifesting in his life the fruits of the Spirit as we see in (Galatians 5:22, 23), which comes as a result of consistently walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16).

Jason

Anonymous said...

{Part 2}

You also said Brother Bronsveld, “The power is not in the people. The power is in the carefully studied, properly exegeted, and faithfully proclaimed and applied Word of God.” Very true, but God chose the foolishness of preaching through imperfect vessels (men) as his way of manifesting his word (Titus 1:3). How can you separate the man from the message that God has given the man to proclaim? I agree with what Brother Rich was stating in his comment. Brother Ross, your comment to Brother Rich is somewhat confusing. You said that “a pastor who is a hypocrite will have every aspect of his ministry hindered by the displeasure of God, including his preaching.” But then you said that the word does not lose its power. I agree with you that the word never loses its power, but you seem to be falling into the same trap as Brother Bronsveld of separating the preacher from the message that God has ordained him to proclaim. If this is inconsequential, then why did Paul make it a point to emphasize to Timothy the importance of his life and testimony as a preacher in (I Timothy 4:16). Paul told him “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine: continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” Notice: “Take heed unto thyself” comes before “the doctrine.” I think that this passage clearly reveals the inseparable connection between the preacher and the doctrine. It is true that God can manifest his word through whomever he chooses to, if that is what he wants to do. But your testimony Brother Ross of how God manifested his word to you in the hands of that unregenerate woman should be seen as the exception and not the norm in my opinion.

I am sure that all three of you men have heard many men preach in the IFB movement on various occasions. Would you not admit that even amongst unaffiliated Baptists that not everyone you have heard has manifested the same power and authority in his preaching as other preachers? So let’s just hypothetically say that they were all expositing and exegeting the text correctly, but some obviously manifested more of an anointing from the Spirit of God during their message. What would you men believe to be accounting for the difference? You already know what I believe, but I will elaborate more in a little bit.

Jason

Anonymous said...

{Part 3}

In regards to EM Bounds, I am aware of the fact that he was a Methodist, and I don’t accept his teaching on the second blessing, although I don’t believe he held to Wesley’s view of sinless perfection. I say that based upon what I have read from his writings. From what I have read I have not seen any direct quotes that he believed in baptismal regeneration, although it is possible I suppose. There were many preachers who admired John Wesley who did not go all the way with him in some of his doctrines like baptismal regeneration and sinless perfection. One of those would be Leonard Ravenhill, and I believe EM Bounds as well. I am not trying to defend Bounds by any means for being a Methodist. I do however believe that he received a gift from the Lord in regards to writing on the doctrine of prayer. From what I have read from him on prayer, I have not noticed anything heretical, or that could not be supported from scripture. You stated that you have not been impressed by what you have read from Bounds Brother Ross. Could that be because he was a Methodist, and you had a biased opinion of him even before you read anything by him? I am not trying to be sarcastic; just wondering.

Brother Bradenburg,
In one of your comments about the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and that no one needs to pray for power, you said “E.M. Bounds didn’t believe that.” Could you clarify what you meant by that? You also said in regards to Bounds that he “was wrong on a lot, and hurt a lot of people.” Do you mean that he hurt a lot of people simply due to the fact that he was wrong on a lot, or did you mean something else? For the record, at no point in any of my comments was I equating Bounds or Bunyan on equal ground with scripture. You said “Every believer has the power of God, all of it. He has the indwelling Holy Spirit, so he doesn’t need to pray for power.” So do you believe that every believer is filled with the Holy Spirit all of the time? If not, then please explain how those believers who are not filled with the Spirit can still be possessing all the power of God? For example: when a believer is quenching the Spirit through disobedience (1 Thessalonians 5:19) and therefore grieving the Spirit of God (Ephesians 4:30), does he have all of the power of God at that time? Would it not be more scriptural to say that every believer has access to all the power of God if they walk in the Spirit and are filled with the Spirit? And just to be clear, I do not believe in the Protestant/Keswick doctrine of a post conversion Holy Spirit Baptism that they claim is necessary for power and service. I believe that every believer has access to all of the power of God at the time of their conversion, but whether they receive and walk in that power is conditioned upon their obedience to God’s word.

Jason

Anonymous said...

{Part 4}

Brother Ross,
You asked me to explain my view on unction from scripture, and not scripture + EM Bounds. I would be happy to, as I did not receive it from EM Bounds. The word “unction” only appears one time in the Bible in (1 John 2:20). It means the same thing as the word “anointing” in (1 John 2:27). I believe both verses refer to the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Here is what I believe further. I believe based on those two references that all Christians have divine “unction”, or the “anointing” of the Holy Spirit. However, as I said in my comments to Brother Bradenburg, as all Christians have the Holy Spirit indwelling them, but not necessarily the fullness or filling of the Holy Spirit at all times, likewise, all Christians have the divine “unction” or “anointing” of the Holy Spirit, but not always the full manifestation of that divine “unction” or “anointing “at all times. Just like our being filled with the Holy Spirit is conditioned upon us as believers consistently walking in the Spirit and abiding in Christ, likewise having a full manifestation of God’s unction or anointing I believe is conditioned upon us walking in close communion with Christ through his word and through prayer. As to the connection of prayer with this unction that you questioned me about, I believe that (Acts 5:31) demonstrates my point.
A little earlier in the chapter in (5:23) we read that Peter and John joined themselves to the company of the other disciples, and (5:24) tells us that “they lifted up their voice to God with one accord” in prayer. We read in (Acts 5:29) that among other things they prayed for “boldness” to speak God’s word. Which brings us to (Acts 5:31). We read, “And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.” Notice a few things that took place after they prayed:
*”The place was shaken where they were assembled together.”
*”They were all filled with the Holy Ghost.” Again, after they prayed, not before.
*”They spake the word of God with boldness.” The Lord answered their prayer that we read in (5:29).

Here is the point that I was attempting to make previously Brother Ross, which I believe this passage substantiates. A full manifestation of God’s “unction” or “anointing” certainly comes through faithful obedient study and meditation of God’s word, no doubt, but even more so, as this text and others demonstrate I believe, through prayer. This is two-fold, either the corporate prayer of a given number of believers as we see in this text, or through private prayer as is clearly seen in many examples throughout both the Old and New Testaments.

Jason

Anonymous said...

{Part 5}

As far as preachers are concerned, no preacher can be filled with the Spirit if he is not a man given to prayer. That would be the equivalent of saying that a Christian could walk in the presence of God, or experience the presence of God upon his life without spending time alone with the Lord. It cannot happen. And no man can have a full manifestation of this divine “unction” or “anointing” with its resulting boldness and power in preaching as we saw in the disciples, if he is not a man given to prayer. I simply believe that being a faithful expositor of God’s word, as vitally important as that is, will not allow us preachers to have a fullness of God’s “unction” if we are weak in the discipline of prayer. Call that heresy if you want, but I will die believing that, and answer to God one way or the other when I stand before him.

As far as the story that I referenced relating to John Owen and John Bunyan, I do stand to be corrected for my comments. I made an assumption regarding the prayer life of John Bunyan that I really can’t prove by way of an actual quotation from John Owen. I would clarify my comments by saying this. John Owen obviously saw in John Bunyan a man who was in many respects ignorant in his learning or scholasticism (not knowing Hebrew or Greek), but he also recognized that John Bunyan had an anointing in preaching that he did not possess, which led Owen to make the statement that I referenced. If someone wants to say that John Bunyan’s communion with God through his KJB and prayer had nothing to do with his anointing in preaching, then that is fine. But something accounted for the difference that Owen noticed.

I would also like to clarify the remarks that I made in regards to (Luke 11:1). The point that I was seeking to emphasize is that the disciples recognized that private prayer was the preeminent discipline of Christ’s life. They heard him preach; they witnessed the miracles; but they knew that the foundation of those two things was the amount of time that Christ devoted to personal communion with the Father through private prayer.

Jason

Anonymous said...

{Part 6}

Finally Brother Ross, I would like to address the reply that you gave in regards to my initial reply to what you said in your post about studying the Greek in order to preach with more power. I don’t want to drag this out, as I don’t believe that either one of us are going to influence the other to accept our conviction on this. Here are my concerns with what you said.
*95% or more of the members in IFB churches have no understanding of the Hebrew and Greek languages. William Tyndale gave his life, and ultimately died at the stake so that the common man plowing in the field could have God’s word in his mother tongue. I would ask you this Brother Ross, or anyone else who may read these comments. If there is only one final authority for every people group on the earth, which as you say is the preserved copies of the original scriptures in Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic; then did William Tyndale die in vain? Maybe he should have invested his life in educating the common people with little education about how to have a working knowledge of Hebrew and Greek. Then, and then alone could they be sure that they had a final authority to educate and guide them in their faith and practice.

I am an Independent Baptist Missionary seeking to fulfill the Great Commission in a very poor Spanish speaking country. The people in the two churches that my family has established barely have a working knowledge of their own mother tongue-Spanish. We have studied and have come to the conclusion that the Spanish Bible that we use should be the standard for all Spanish speaking Christians, as it is the only one that I know of that was translated exclusively from the Hebrew Masoretic text and the Textus Receptus. Our people believe that what they hold in their hands is their final authority in the language that they speak. I don’t stand before them and say ‘this word that was translated this way in your Bible really means this in the Hebrew or Greek.’ That would confuse them, and destroy their confidence in what they hold in their hands. And the Bible says in (1 Corinthians 14:33) that God is not the author of confusion. You believe that there cannot be a final authority for every language, and I say why not? If the translations are being done the right way from God’s preserved manuscripts like the KJV was, then why not? The fact that we don’t have a final authority in every language on the earth is not God’s fault, it is mans’ fault. Man has dropped the ball there.

Jason

Anonymous said...

{Part 7}

*I am concerned where this thinking will eventually lead to Brother Ross. The majority of professing Christians in IFB churches don’t even faithfully read and study their Bibles consistently now, even with the knowledge that they have a perfect Bible in the KJV. What would happen if every IFB pastor became a Hebrew and Greek scholar and then took the liberty every Lord’s Day to tell the people about all of the mistranslations in their Bibles, or better renderings, or what the Biblical writer really meant in Hebrew and Greek? Do you honestly believe that would encourage the average church member to more faithfully study the Bible that he or she possessed? They would think, ‘I don’t know what my preacher is talking about, so I will just take it for granted that what he is saying is correct.’ At that point, forget about the church members being Bereans who will search the scriptures daily (Acts 17:11). Why be a Berean if what you possess is in question, and not really your final authority?

*Lastly, I am not about to tell our men studying to preach that they will never be able to have the fullness of God’s power in their preaching unless they learn Hebrew and Greek. If that is what God wants from preachers, then why did he providentially allow Bible translations to come into the world to begin with?

In closing, I want you to know Brother Ross that I have been greatly helped and encouraged by many things that both you and Brother Bradenburg stand for, and have written about. The material that you both have put out through your website and his blog regarding the doctrine of salvation has been a great blessing and encouragement to me. Very few IFB preachers are boldly standing for the truth regarding the Lordship/repentance issue; discipleship; the doctrine of the church; and Historic Baptist (Biblical) doctrine as a whole. I pray that nothing that I have stated in my comments has come across as being offensive. If it has, I apologize. For the record Brother Ross, I don’t believe that you were prideful either in your post or in the statements that you made in reply to me. Your spirit and humility in responding were a blessing, and Christlike.

Sincerely in Christ,
Jason

James Bronsveld said...

Jason,

There’s a lot of material covered in one 7-part comment, so I will try to be as brief as I can.

In the lengthy responses I’ve seen to date, there’s been a consistent but subtle switch of power (ἐξουσία) with power (δύναμις), which seems to have moved the discussion away from the point of the post. Regarding your Acts 6:4 comment, my point, in giving a specific response to a narrow question was in no way to suggest that prayer is unimportant. But does the man praying one hour for every ten minutes of preaching likewise spend an hour in the study of God’s Word for each of the same ten minutes? If not, and without minimizing the importance of Scriptural prayer, I have little interest in hearing what he has to preach. I have sat under consistently “anointed” preaching in revivalist churches where the text was abused and twisted from its context by men “given to prayer” and not to study. A man who gives prayer prominence over the study of the Word will not know the Word (or his God) either, being more enamoured with what he has to say than what God has to say, very much like the ignorant heathen who thinks he shall be heard for his much speaking. The Holy Spirit does not anoint men to preach what is not in the text, and the way one preaches with authority what is in the text is to carefully—prayerfully—study it, interpret it, and then apply it. You mentioned Acts 6:4 which does emphasize the importance of prayer in the ministry of the word, and I would note that Acts 2:42 emphasizes the continuance of the churches in the apostles’ doctrine first, mentioning prayer last. My point is that Scriptural prayer is regulated by and confined to the Scriptures, and that leads us right back to the careful study of God’s word. God hears me, consequently answering me, when I pray according to His will, so I must pray according to His will (I John 5:14-15). Where do I find His will? Again, by diligently studying and applying Scripture and praying accordingly. The three passages you cited do not exist in a vacuum. The prayer of a believer that is not in accordance with the will of God is not acceptable to Him. We know how to pray by studying what we’re taught and shown to pray in Scripture. I cannot elevate praying over the study of God’s Word.

Titus 1:3 does not include the qualifier you added to make the point that the man cannot be separated from the message. I note that in your very lengthy response, you omitted any interaction with Phil. 1 and I Cor. 1. Assuming that the preached word is only authoritative when coupled with holiness of life, does Scripture record that the authority of Balaam’s prophecy was lacking? What about the old deceiving prophet in Bethel? Or Pharoah-Necho’s admonition to Josiah from the Lord? Or Judas Iscariot, who for 3 years cast out devils and preached the gospel with authority? Was his preaching during that time noticeably less powerful than the other disciples? Men of God must be blameless because without it, God’s word and grace are blasphemed (Rom. 2:24; Titus 2), because hypocrites give occasion to gainsayers, and because they bring reproach upon the name of Christ. But Paul (Phil 1) did not lament that those preaching the gospel out of spite had less power than those doing it with sanctified motives. He rejoiced, because the preaching of the Gospel (no qualifiers) is the power of God unto salvation.

This is why I remain with a question about the understanding of the nature of sanctification in a believer. A man may be able to, for a time, labour in the ministry of the word in the flesh, but he will not continue to be able to do so, nor will he be able to apply it faithfully because the mortification of the flesh and the experience of sanctification would actually be foreign to him. The flesh will fail him. It seems to me that, in contrast to that, in both of your responses, you are suggesting that the faithful, careful exposition and application of God’s Word can be separated from sanctified living, thus giving some power, and others not.

KJB1611 said...

Dear Jason,

Thanks for taking the time to write and for your comments. It is good that you want to do the best for God in the crucial matter that is the subject of this post, and I appreciate your taking the time. A few responses.

There are different words for preaching and teaching, each of which should be studied on its own to get the sense of what they are talking about to get a Biblical theology of preaching and of teaching. Teaching would, in most cases, be broader, in that one is not necessarily engaging in kerusso/preaching when, say, a wife is going over a Bible lesson with her child.

My specific question was if there is any basis for what you seem to (am I wrong here?) have been either saying or implying that teaching does not have application necessarily built into it the way preaching does. That preaching must have application is, I believe, not disputed by anyone commenting here.

The doctrine of Spirit-filling will be clarified if we recognize that there is a clear Biblical difference between filling when the Greek word is pimplemi and when it is pleroo. The one is filling for a specific task (e. g., Acts 5:32, boldness) and the latter word is the presence of the Spirit with the Christian (Eph 5:18). Rather than re-invent the wheel here, please see the exposition at:

http://faithsaves.net/filled-spirit/

because when we are talking about being filled with the Spirit the two are too often confused. Believers are not always filled in the sense of pimplemi, but in the sense of pleroo they are always filled to a certain degree (that is what indwelling is) but they can be more filled as they grow more like the Trinity by God's grace. Depending on which word you are talking about, Spirit filling is either all or nothing or it is a matter of degree.

(By the way, neglecting this distinction impoverishes our doctrine of Spirit filling, and relates to the question of whether we have one final authority, the one God spoke directly from heaven, or many final (?) authorities which can change in different languages.)

It actually has been a long time since I read any E. M. Bounds. I remember not being impressed, but I can't remember clearly enough why that was to make any further comment. I think at the time I didn't know much about his theology or about Wesley's, for that matter, though, so it probably wasn't too much antipathy to Wesleyan Methodism.

KJB1611 said...

I agree with you wholeheartedly that all believers have the unction/anointing of the Spirit, and that is all that we see in 1 John. I don't see any basis in Scripture for accessing language in connection to unction/anointing. As I stated above, for filling (pimplemi) we can see something like praying for boldness and being filled as a result, so I am all for that (and I think everyone commenting here is all for that). I don't see any basis in 1 John or in other types of OT anointing where the anointing needed to be accessed (did the High Priest need to access his anointing, or was it a one-time thing received when he entered his office?), so would it not be better to refrain from saying we need unction/anointing, but say that we need something that Scripture actually states that we need, instead of saying that we need something that Scripture says we all already have? And since the NT never connects "anointing" or "unction" with preaching, wouldn't we be better to not do it, but instead use pimplemi/filling language instead?

There is certainly a sense in which believers can quench or grieve the Spirit and have their fellowship with God hindered, indeed, greatly hindered. There is another sense in which all believers have communion/fellowship with God and those who are not in fellowship are unregenerate (see http://www.dbts.edu/journals/2008/Combs.pdf for exegetical evidence for the latter; I am not endorsing the author or the institution by referencing the article.)

I, for one, would not argue that prayerfulness has no connection with God's blessing one's preaching, so I don't think we are disagreeing on that one. I don't think John Bunyan had a greater anointing because I don't see anointing used that way in Scripture, any more than John Bunyan had a greater baptism of the Spirit, because Scripture doesn't read that way.

I agree with you that private prayer was very important to the Lord Jesus and must be very important to us as well.

Nor would I argue that it is exceptional that an unregenerate woman preacher is the instrumentality of someone's conversion (mine) rather than a faithful regenerate Christian. BTW, when I was converted I was reading Galatians 2:16 in the New World Translation of the Watchtower Society, which, thank God, is accurately translated (unlike so much in that horrible cultic version), but the NWT is not the final authority in Gal 2:16, despite being an accurate translation in that particular verse.

KJB1611 said...


No, of course William Tyndale did not die in vain. Nor is anyone arguing that preachers should get up and spend their message attacking the translation in the people's mother tongues instead of exposing and applying the Word. Translating the one final authority God gave us faithfully into the English (and Spanish, etc.) language was a wonderful, wonderful thing, and accurately translated Scripture still has the breath of God on it. I think that some of our discussion here is simply semantics rather than doctrinal difference, and I don't think you really believe your position when you said that the "final" authority where you were in a Spanish speaking place was something that was the "final" authority because it was accurately translated from the Hebrew and Greek. A "final" authority is not dependent upon something else.

The reason there is not a different final authority in every language is because holy men of God did not speak in every language, controlled by the Holy Ghost, 2 Peter 1. What God actually dictated from heaven infallibly and preserved perfectly is the final authority, and it should be accurately translated into every language of the world, that people might have the Word of God available in their mother tongues. If the KJV said "shall" instead of "shalt," and "walks" instead of "walketh," it would be equally authoritative because both are accurate translations, but woe be to the man who alters one jot or tittle of the real final authority, Revelation 22:18-19, the words God dictated from heaven by the Holy Ghost through holy men of old.

We will grow in our ability to preach with power/exousia/authority the more we learn about the Bible during the course of our entire lives; the more we know the Bible and its Divine Author, the more powerfully/authoritatively we can preach it. Pastor Brandenburg, for example, can preach with more power/authority now than he could during his first year as a pastor many years ago for that very reason. Someone who has preached through the whole Bible verse-by-verse and knows, say, Genesis 48:1ff. in its book, chapter, and immediate context extremely well will be able to preach it with more power/authority than someone who does not. We should tell preacher boys this. Is that true even apart from considerations of knowing the original languages? If so, unless you are willing to say that knowing them contributes absolutely zero to one's ability to understand the Bible, wouldn't knowing them contribute to one having greater power?

I would be interested to see your response to what Bro Bronsveld said as well, especially his last paragraph.

I think something that definitely relates to the discussion in this comment section, and the content of this post, is whether the Spirit always works through the Word to the same extent, or whether He in His sovereign power sometimes works through it more greatly than at other times, something which was discussed here:

http://kentbrandenburg.blogspot.com/2016/09/grace-through-word-lutheran-and.html

as the former is the Lutheran position, the latter is the Reformed position, and I suspect most IFBs have never even thought about it. Some of the commenters who disagree with you may be more like the Lutheran doctrine than I would be on this matter.

Thanks again for your thoughtful remarks.

Anonymous said...

Brother Bronsveld,

Thank you for responding to my comments. It was not my intention to get away from the point of Brother Ross’ post, so my apologies for that. This reply is in two parts.

{Part 1}

In my emphasis on prayer in the life of a preacher, I was not intending to minimize the importance of studying God’s word, which as we know every preacher is commanded by God to do (1 Timothy 2:15). I, like you believe that prayer cannot be separated from the study of God’s word in the life of any Christian, especially a preacher. You are right to suggest that a man should not slight God’s word in order to supposedly pray more. There is a scriptural balance that needs to be maintained there. I, like you have heard much of the revivalist type preaching in the past, and based upon what I have heard, I seriously doubt that those men were “given unto prayer.” I also see your point about the dependence upon anecdotes and stories that characterizes too much of the revivalist type preaching, instead of the faithful exposition of God’s word. So I have no problem, and I am in complete agreement with what you said in your first paragraph.

However, based upon my interaction with many IFB preachers, attending their services, and listening to the preaching, I don’t believe that IFB preachers in the main will ever be classified as men who were “given to prayer.” Perhaps “given to golf”, but not “given to prayer.” I don’t believe that prayer should be elevated above the study of God’s word, but I also don’t believe that the study of God’s word should be elevated above prayer, to the point that prayer is represented as something drastically lower than what scripture represents it to be. Why do we still call our Wednesday night services prayer meetings, when we delegate about ten to fifteen minutes to prayer, and then the main part of the service is given to Bible study or preaching? Is that maintaining a scripture balance? I praise the Lord that there are exceptions that I have been privileged to be a part of.

The examples that you mentioned in your second paragraph are all good, and right. Here is my question however: You want to emphasize that God’s word never loses its power (and I agree), regardless of who is proclaiming it, but then you come back and cite (Rom 2:24; Titus 2) to prove that men of God must be blameless, so that God’s word and God’s grace will not be blasphemed. So I don’t think that we are far off from each other here. Even though the power of God’s word never diminishes in and of itself, you seem to be saying (correct me if I am wrong) that the man (preacher for example) can, and often does impact the results of the preached word through his life’s example and testimony. If not, then why did God give us all of these exhortations to be “blameless” (1 Tim 3:2); “sober, just, holy, temperate” (Titus 1:8); etc, if we could just preach the word and let its power change people’s lives independent of us preachers walking in godliness. I cited (1 Timothy 4:16) to prove my point, but you did not comment on it.

Jason

Anonymous said...

{Part 2}

As far as your last part, you mentioned that you think that I believe that the careful and faithful exposition and application of God’s word can be separated from sanctified living, thus giving some power, and others not. Well, let me say that I do believe that some preachers have more of a God given ability in the area of expositing the scriptures than others. I also believe that many men trust in that gift, and too often lean on it as a substitute for faithfully walking with God. So they can hide the fact, or attempt to hide the fact, that they have a weak prayer life, and that their lives are spotted with the world, by exercising their gift in exposition.

We can disagree on this, but this is the reason why I believe that even in IFB churches where the exposition of the scriptures is being rightly done, it often seems to be mechanical with no life, and even though there may be application to some extent, it often comes across powerless, because the people don’t get the sense that it has really made a difference in the life of the preacher.

Neither you nor Brother Ross has responded to the question that I posed to you about what you believe to be the difference between the different IFB preachers that you have heard who faithfully exposited and applied the scriptures, but who nevertheless demonstrated a different degree of the presence of God when they preached. Unless of course you believe that it is always great preaching if the preacher faithfully exposits the scriptures, which I don’t necessarily believe for the reasons I mentioned.

Hopefully this helps clear some things up.

Jason

KJB1611 said...

Dear Jason,

You stated:

Neither you nor Brother Ross has responded to the question that I posed to you about what you believe to be the difference between the different IFB preachers that you have heard who faithfully exposited and applied the scriptures, but who nevertheless demonstrated a different degree of the presence of God when they preached.

Please let me know how you ascertain objectively the degree of the presence of God when people preach. Making very clear what you mean here would be necessary before a response is possible. Perhaps you can show how, say, Paul explained was you are saying to Timothy in the Pastoral Epistles.

James Bronsveld said...

Jason,

You wrote that you don’t believe that prayer should be elevated above the Word of God, which is good to hear, but you countered that by rejecting an elevation of the study of the word of God above prayer to the point that “prayer is drastically lower than what Scripture represents that to be,” which is a curious way to couch and qualify that remark, because it really doesn’t tell me anything about where exactly you would put prayer in relation to Scripture. I find then the issue to be, “What position does the Scripture place upon prayer?” Is it equivalent to Scripture? I don’t see a clear answer on that from you, and your phrasing suggests a hesitancy to come out exactly and specify that: a reticence that I believe is well-placed.

It appears that you make prayer the foundation to authoritative preaching, and you spoke of it as the “preeminent discipline” of Jesus Christ. However, I am content to turn to either Ravenhill or Bounds (of whom you have spoken favourably) to obtain an answer to my question, and I am certainly desirous to hear your own position on that. I briefly perused my copies of both of their more well-known books, and was reminded again that the very language that Scripture applies to the Scriptures alone is applied by these men to the prayers of men. Ravenhill looked longingly for the power not only of John Wesley (I would argue against Wesley’s grasp of salvation, having read his writings and being regularly faced with the fruit of his doctrines when evangelizing in our town and seeing the heartbreaking labours of his followers working so hard to keep themselves saved) and E.M. Bounds, but also Madam Guyon, the Catholic mystic. He speaks glowingly of the faith-healing of William James, and points more than once to the power of Finney’s revivals. “Unction,” says Ravenhill, “cannot be learned, only earned—by prayer.” Ravenhill was A.W. Tozer's protege, whose own works on prayer, revival, and the knowledge of God draw heavily from books like The Cloud of Unknowing, and many of the Catholic mystics. How can Ravenhill and Tozer have a grasp on the “presence of God” in prayer or preaching while looking so undiscerningly to the unregenerate for guidance in prayer? They fail to see the contradiction there because they will not, in practice, acknowledge that God elevates His Word above all his name, including its governing of what is acceptable to be prayed when calling upon His name (as well as whom He hears). Both Tozer and Ravenhill made clear calls to holy living, something that is necessary today, but not dependent upon their confused theology relating to unction.

Bounds and Ravenhill both support their teachings on prayer and unction-filled preaching heavily with examples from the so-called 2nd Great Awakening and urge their readers to consider the presence of God in the life of the Anglican priest, Henry Martyn. Their false view of unction and power has directed a whole generation of present-day Baptists into the teachings of mystics like Brother Lawrence. Proof of the presence of God is emphasized by pulling at emotion: “Edward Payson wore grooves into his wooden floor with his praying.” John Wesley would “come out of his closet with the serenity of his face next to shining.” "God's presence" is likewise "proven" through the evidence of their being “heard for their much speaking.” Anecdote after anecdote marvels at the length of their prayers (I’ve often wondered how these men’s private prayer closet times are so widely known and reported). Not surprisingly, history records about almost every so-called revival movement after the Great Awakening an emphasis on prayer and a diminishing of the teaching of sound doctrine. Read Ravenhill, John R. Rice, Evan Roberts, Jeremiah Lanphier, and others to see it. Prayer is important, but I stand by what I said. It is not elevated above Scripture, but rather regulated and restricted by it. By studying Scripture, I learn how and what to pray. (Part 1)

James Bronsveld said...

(Part 2) Ironically, I find myself switching places with you in a related aspect of this discussion. You have said that we cannot separate the man from the message, and in this instance, I agree wholeheartedly with you. Ravenhill’s message about power with God and communion with Him finds its basis in the likes of Madam Guyon and Charles Finney. His endorsements of these people and their works do not come in spite of his teachings on prayer, but as a significant undergirding of them. His theology on prayer is hopelessly corrupted with the influence of Catholic mysticism. And this is where we switch places. Ravenhill and Bounds cannot be separated from the people to which they looked as the representatives of their theology. In contrast, the properly applied exposition of the Word of God is used by the Holy Spirit to reprove men of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. Theology on communion with God (specifically as it relates to His presence and power in a person’s life) that looks to Finney’s manufactured revival, his apostate soteriology, and middle-ages era Roman Catholic mystics is a presence from God I want nothing to do with. I am in agreement with their stated truth that men ought always to pray, but what they mean by that stands on shaky ground, not on Scripture.

My omission of the mention of I Tim 4:16 is due to a desire to remain brief. I am still unclear as to why you haven’t interacted with Philippians 1 or I Corinthians 1 in any meaningful fashion, even if to harmonize it with your position. Is I Tim. 4:16 supposed to rebut my point from Phil. 1?

My emphasis on the blamelessness of the man of God does not relate so much to a corresponding lack of authority in his preaching as it does to the obstacle or credibility issues created by an obvious contradiction. This may seem like semantics, but allow me to illustrate by coming back again to Judas Iscariot. He was unregenerate and consequently unsanctified. No one knew it until after the betrayal of Jesus. Yet the authority of his hypocritical preaching and ministry beforehand is nowhere questioned. He had “obtained a part” in the ministry. He was chosen as an apostle by the Lord Jesus Christ himself. He is included, rather than excluded, in the successful results of the preaching all over Israel. Suppose, though, that he was a known thief and that his life exhibited it. His ministry would have met obstacles: “Physician, heal thyself.” But that differs from the position you’re presenting, for I understand you to be proposing that Judas Iscariot would not have had power in his preaching because he was a fake. My position on the requirement for blamelessness in the preacher harmonizes with the Biblical illustration of the authority of Judas’ preaching without his sincerity or prayer-filled life.

You wrote that “even in IFB churches where the exposition of the Scriptures is being rightly done, it often seems mechanical with no life.” To this, I would comment: Expository preaching that is presented merely as a commentary reading of the grammar of the text without application is not true expository preaching, and can hardly be used as the rule by which to measure expository preaching.

My encouragement would be to pull the curtain of history back to peer beyond the revivals of the 19th century and to look at the sanctified, simple godly living of believers in all generations, especially those generations preceding the hype and emotionalism of the movements that birthed Bounds, Finney, and the men who followed them.

Anonymous said...

You bring up interesting points. Although, I wonder if you are putting neglecting writing in your emphasis on preaching? (I am not declaring one way or the other; this is a question for the audience.) A lot of (per)versions of the bible say that preaching is mentioned in Mark 13:10. But the true Bible, the KJV, says that the gospel must be published, not preached. Mark 13:10 And the gospel must first be published among all nations. Are we as fundamentalists putting too much emphasis on preaching and not enough on writing?

Anonymous said...

Let me rephrase my last comment. I did not mean to imply that preaching should NOT be emphasized. I'm just wondering if we have sometimes neglected books and other writing and ONLY emphasized preaching? After all, if the bible was supposed to say "preached" instead of "published" in Mark 13:10, that's what it would have said.

James Bronsveld said...

Dear Internet Troll,

Your comments are Mark 13:10 are just as indecipherable in this comment thread as they were in the comment thread you previously posted them, and in both instances, just as lacking in edification. Prov. 22:10