A Man Walks into a Bar…and Comes to Christ?

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Years ago, a Ugandan man named George entered a bar looking for a drink. What he didn’t know is that God would use his time at that bar to radically change his life forever.

George went into the bar as an unbeliever and walked out a follower of Christ. Someone took the time to share Christ with him and as a result he was born again. Inspired due to his newfound faith, George witnessed to the owner of the bar–and this man also received Christ!

They soon closed the doors of the bar and reopened it as a church (pictured in the above photo). George is now a pastor that ministers to hundreds in his area.

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George and Doug Dunton, LRI’s Director of Africa

Training with Leadership Resources
Six years ago George began the Training National Trainers program with Leadership Resources. God has worked in his heart in amazing ways and George has experienced various layers of transformation.

After receiving training in the Scriptures, George now trains others with the TNT curriculum, including four separate groups of pastors and thirteen church planters. George has even led his wife through the training, and she has passed on the training to other women.

Before being equipped through TNT, George’s congregation didn’t even bring their Bibles to church. Now after TNT, they make big sacrifices in order to purchase their own Bibles.

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George leading a TNT Group

The transformation George has experienced has blessed his community, not only by pastoring his church, but by reaching out to pygmies and other outcasts in his community.

One man, an unbeliever, noticed such a positive change in the community through George and his church that he gave George a cow to thank him! This cow is now used for ministering to the people of their community.

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Doug and his “Cow Selfie” with George and Friends

God’s Word and God’s Heart
When our team was in Uganda a few months back, they were able to speak in George’s church, which was bursting at the seams with hundreds of people listening intently to the message preached. After the sermon, eight people came forward to talk to Pastor George and receive Christ. One congregation member even commented how the guest preacher (our Doug Dunton who had trained George) preached just like George!

What a gift to see and hear how God is using this pastor to impact his community as he faithfully exposits God’s Word. His people are recognizing that he has something important to say from God’s Word–and they want to listen!

Pray for George and the dozens of others that we train in Uganda as they implement these new lessons in their churches and their communities so they can become transformed through God’s power.

 

8 Reasons to Love Sound Doctrine

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Este artículo está disponible en Español.

I recently talked with a pastor who told me he was happy that 450 people left his church of what used to be 600. Why would he be happy?

For years Pastor Frank preached a prosperity message promising the blessings of health and wealth upon those in his church. And his people liked it. Then two of his children died over a short period of time, one from violence and the other from disease. His prosperity theology began to unravel. Where was God’s blessing? Why was this happening to him?

God revealed to Frank that he was preaching a false message that hurt his congregation and left them ill prepared when they experienced life’s deep reality of suffering. Preaching this unsound doctrine might have seemed to pay off in the short-run, but in the end it was leading people astray to pursue riches and blessings that Scripture never promises, and removing the focus on the better promises of Scripture.

The church needs sound doctrine to deal with complexities of faith and life.

What is Sound Doctrine?

Doctrine is “scriptural teaching on theological truths.”[1] Adding the adjective “sound” to doctrine sharpens the definition with the ideas of ‘healthy’ or ‘accurate.'[2] A good working definition of what the Bible means when it says sound doctrine is thus:

Sound doctrine is accurate scriptural teaching on theological truths that leads to the spiritual health and transformed lives of both individuals and the church as a whole.

Sound doctrine should be the content of every sermon, Bible study, song, and book we read at church. And it should be loved. Here are a few reasons:

1. Love sound doctrine because God loves sound doctrine.
Scripture commands leaders to “hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught” and to “give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it” (Titus 1:9). Sound doctrine flows from God’s words and revealed will in Scripture. God gave us His Word and sound doctrine so we could know Him, love Him, obey Him, and teach others about Him and what He’s done for us in Christ. Let us love it because we love Him.

2. Love sound doctrine because sound doctrine matures individuals and the church.
Unsound doctrine upsets faith, leads people astray, and ultimately wastes our time (like in Pastor Frank’s story). Teaching sound doctrine leads to spiritual maturity in both individuals and the church as a whole (Ephesians 4:11-14). As we feed on sound doctrine, we have less of a taste for theology that tickles our ears but ultimately leaves us unsatisfied and lacking what we truly need. Sound doctrine grows our faith and leads us invest time wisely for Christ and His Kingdom by maturing individuals and the church into the image of Christ.

3. Love sound doctrine because sound doctrine flows from the gospel.
In 1 Timothy 1:11, Paul says that sound doctrine is “in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God.” The gospel is a message to be proclaimed and taught. Sound doctrine is the substance of true gospel teaching. Our love for the gospel should be tightly bound with a love for sound doctrine because sound doctrine communicates gospel truths that bring salvation to their hearers (1 Timothy 4:16).

4. Love sound doctrine because it leads us to holiness.
1 Timothy 1:10 tells us that there is a type of living that is contrary to sound doctrine. Correct doctrine is tied with correct living, which is what Paul means when he speaks of “a knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness” (Titus 1:1). Sound doctrine teaches us about a holy and wrath-filled God who hates sin but loves us enough to sacrifice His Son on our behalf to free us from that sin. True doctrine from a holy God produces holy people.

5. Love sound doctrine because it keeps us from false doctrine.
Scripture points to three sources of doctrine: devils (1 Timothy 4:1), men (Matthew 15:9), and God Himself (Titus 2:10). Sound doctrine flows from God Himself and is both uncorrupted and life giving. Sound doctrine is an anchor of truth, which steadies us from being “tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14). A love for sound doctrine will be a “shield of truth” against lies and doctrines of the enemy, which are rampant today–even in many churches.

6. Love sound doctrine because it leads to action.
Scripture prepares men and women for every good work God (2 Timothy 3:17). Likewise, a healthy teaching of Scripture’s doctrine catalyzes both service and witness by instilling deep conviction and joy into Christians’ lives. Hearing the truth of Scripture taught clearly will exalt the mercy and grace of God, which will cause us to be thankful and obey His commands to be a light in the world and proclaim the gospel and “adorn the doctrine of God our Savior (Titus 2:7-10).

7. Love sound doctrine because a love for sound doctrine is a love for Jesus Himself.
Nothing makes me cringe like hearing Christians say, “I don’t need doctrine, I just want to love Jesus!” These people misunderstand that doctrine is what tells us about Jesus, who is Truth in the flesh (John 14:6). Jesus came to preach (Mark 1:38). His preaching involved communicating doctrine that would proclaim who He is and how His followers are to live in relation to Him and the world.

8. Love sound doctrine because it ultimately leads to worship
Contemplating truths about God and His works among men causes us to wonder in amazement at his goodness (Psalm 107). Worship is not just the end result of doctrine, it is also the reason it exists. Paul exemplifies this by concluding one of the most doctrine-rich portions of Scripture with this doxology: “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!  (Romans 11:33)

God wants the sound doctrine to fill the church with holy, Christ-exalting and Christ-proclaiming believers who are maturing daily in their knowledge of God and obedience to Him.

Pastor Frank has learned a lot since he stopped preaching the prosperity message and began focusing on Scriptural teaching. Although many people left the church, new people began to come eager to hear truth. Teens that used to sit in the back of the church and send text messages during the service have now moved to the front rows and have began to serve and reach out to their community. This is a picture of sound doctrine in action. Teaching sound doctrine matters.

Where Sound Doctrine Begins

While studying doctrine in the local church is one great way to grow, perhaps the most important thing we can do on a daily basis is study the Scriptures carefully and faithfully. As we have trained pastors in the Fellowship of the Word program, we have often seen how growth in sound doctrine comes when the Word topples unsound doctrines rooted in a faulty theological framework, specific cultural values, or simply not reading Scripture in it’s proper historical, biblical, and literary context.

Let us heed Paul’s command in 2 Timothy 1:13 and, “Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.”

[1] Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology
[2]Entry for ὑγιαίνω in Louw, Johannes P. and Eugene Albert Nida. Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains. electronic ed. of the 2nd edition. New York: United Bible Societies, 1996.

Kevin Halloran is the Content Strategist at Leadership Resources and on the Latin America Training Team. Follow Kevin on Twitter.

Why Expository Preaching? 20 Reasons to Preach Expositional Sermons

Why Expository Preaching? 20 Reasons to Preach Expositional Sermons

In a court of law in the United States, when a witness takes the stand to testify in front of the court, he swears to “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God.” The goal is to give a complete account of all the relevant information–not adding to or subtracting from what is true.

This should be the same attitude preachers have in relation to God’s Word: preachers should tell the truth of God’s Word (John 17:17), the whole truth of God’s Word (Acts 20:27), and nothing but the truth of God’s Word (Jeremiah 23:16), as helped by the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 2:2-5), and applied to their listeners (Matthew 7:24-27). This was the conviction and practice of many preachers throughout church history; from Jesus and the apostles to early church leaders like Augustine and John Chrysostom, through the Reformation, to the present day.

The term “expository preaching” often means different things to different people. Simply stated, it is an accurate proclamation and application of God’s truth revealed in Scripture. In Christ-Centered Preaching, pastor and professor Bryan Chapell shares this more comprehensive definition of an expository sermon, and thus expository preaching:

…the technical definition of an expository sermon requires that it expound Scripture by deriving from a specific text main points and subpoints that disclose the thought of the author, cover the scope of the passage, and are applied to the lives of the listeners.

There are many reasons to preach the Scriptures. This article shares some of the most helpful reasons for expository preaching and implications for both the preacher and the church. We hope the preacher and the church see the utmost importance of this practice for the life and health of a church and put it into practice to the glory of God.

20 Reasons for Expository Preaching

1. Expository preaching is obeying the command of Scripture to “Preach the Word!” (2 Timothy 4:2).

The content of our preaching needs to be God’s message as revealed to us in the Scriptures. That’s why we are called to preach not just our words, but the authoritative Word of God (2 Timothy 4:2).

Following a section on the importance of the God-breathed Scriptures in ministry (2 Timothy 3:14-17), Paul sets up his command in 2 Timothy 4:2 to ‘preach the word’ with a solemn charge that couldn’t be more forceful: “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom, preach the word…” Preaching the Word in expository fashion considers the context of a passage (literary, historical, and biblical), preserving the author’s original intent and making it easier to stay in line with God’s truth. If we do not preach God’s Word, whose word are we preaching?

2. Expository preaching imitates the practice of the apostles and Christ.

The book of Acts records many sermons preached by the apostles including Peter’s Acts 2 sermon. In that sermon, Peter expounded the prophecy of Joel 2:28-32 and shared how it testified to Christ, supporting his sermon with two Psalms. Later in Acts 7, Stephen exposited portions of Genesis and Exodus. In Acts 8, Philip exposited Isaiah 53 one-on-one with the Ethiopian eunuch. When Jesus was on the road to Emmaus talking with two disciples in Luke 24, He walked through the Scriptures and “interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27). Expository preaching and expository ministry bore great fruit for Christ and the apostles–and will for us today as well.

Bonus: Read Nehemiah 8:1-12 for Expository Preaching in the Old Testament or read 6 Characteristics of Apostolic Preaching in Acts

3. Expository preaching lets God speak for Himself in the way He has spoken.

God has communicated Himself in Scripture in a distinct way. The flow and arrangement of biblical material is intentional, and the more we can compellingly communicate God’s truth the way He communicated it the better. Sticking to the Scriptures also helps us focus on what God says is most important. This is why expository preaching sets the table for God to speak for Himself–it seeks to communicate God’s message the way He has already communicated, using main points and subpoints to communicate the original author’s intent and aim of a passage.

4. Expository preaching puts God’s Word in it’s proper authoritative and exalted place in the church.

Scripture should be the absolute authority for Christ’s church. Scripture is what trains us in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16), prepares us for ministry (2 Timothy 3:17), and leads us to the person and work of Jesus Christ (John 5:39-40). Churches need to desire more than anything to be Scripture-saturated and exalt God’s Word in the church at all levels: preaching, worship services, congregational singing, small groups, lobby conversations, and even interactions outside of the church. Expository preaching elevates God’s Word by making it the foundation and focus of church life.

5. Expository preaching unleashes the transforming life-giving power of God’s Word.

Scripture calls itself “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12) and “like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces” (Jeremiah 23:29). Expository preaching wields the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17) and lets the power of God’s Word loose. Preaching anyone else’s word will not–and cannot–have the same power or impact. Only God’s Words are promised to accomplish His purposes (Isaiah 55:10-11).

6. Expository preaching teaches people how to read their Bibles.

Reading the Bible can be confusing. When a preacher faithfully preaches the Scripture and explains how he draws conclusions from the Scripture, the congregation sees faithful Bible reading modeled and are more equipped to do it themselves. This is the benefit of expository preaching: congregants will not depend on preaching as their only source of nourishment, but will over time grow in their ability to feed on Scripture themselves, and thus further their own Christian maturity.

7. Expository preaching teaches people how each part of the Bible fit into the overall storyline of salvation.

Although it is made of 66 individual books, the Bible is a unified whole that tells the story of God’s salvation through Jesus Christ. Good expository preaching explains how the biblical text for the sermon fits in the whole of the Bible. Listeners will know better how the Old Testament anticipates Christ and how the New Testament describes the life, death, and resurrection of Christ along with the birth and growth of the early church. Knowing how the story fits together will richly show the development of gospel themes across Scripture and give listeners a clearer sense of God’s work in the world through Christ.

8. Expository preaching gives listeners (and their pastors) a love for their Bibles.

The Scriptures are “more to be desired than gold” and “sweeter also than honey” (Psalm 19:10). When God’s Word is preached, applied, and understood; listeners grow to love their Bibles like they love food that nourishes and strengthens their body. “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.” (Psalm 119:97).

9. Expository preaching equips congregation members for a personal ministry of the Word.

When a church’s pulpit models a faithful reading of Scripture, congregation members are equipped to share the Word with others. Pastors and teachers’ God-given purpose is to, “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12). This is one goal of the Fellowship of the Word program–for pastors we train in the Scriptures to create an expository culture in their church with many congregation members ministering to each other with the Word in the power of the Spirit (Learn More).

10. Expository preaching gives preachers confidence and authority.

Bryan Chapell comments: “Preachers minister with greater zeal, confidence, and freedom when they realize that God has taken from their backs the money of spiritual manipulation. God is not relying on the sufficiency of our craft or character to accomplish his purposes (2 Cor. 3:5). God certainly can use eloquence and desires lives befitting the sanctity of our subject matter, but His Spirit uses the Word itself to fulfill his saving and sanctifying purposes.”

11. Expository Preaching gives listeners confidence that the preacher is speaking with God’s authority and not their own.

Preaching Scripture gives congregations confidence as they listen to preaching: they realize the preacher stands upon God’s truth and not their own cleverness. A failure to preach Scripture comes with unintended consequences, as John MacArthur writes, “A failure to preach Scripture redirects people from a God-centered perspective to a man-centered perspective. It tends to undermine confidence… in Scripture.”

12. Expository preaching is common sense in its use of the Bible.

If you got a letter from a friend in the mail, you would not begin reading half-way through, or only read your two favorite sentences–you would start at the beginning and continue reading until the end. That’s the way each book of the Bible was designed to be read. We should treat each book of the Bible the same way in preaching.

13. Expository preaching arms the congregation for spiritual warfare.

We need the truth of Scripture to defend against the lies presented by the world, the flesh, and the devil. Expository preaching, by unfolding the Bible, equips the church to fight against the enemy by arming them with the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17) and giving them the faith they need as a shield against the flaming darts of the evil one (Ephesians 6:16; Romans 10:17).

14. Expository preaching challenges the spiritual life of the preacher.

Preachers who seek to expound the truth of Scripture will apply its truth to their own lives. Expository preaching helps preachers watch their life and doctrine closely (1 Timothy 4:16) by immersing them the sanctifying power of the Scriptures (John 17:17) and allowing them to experience God’s transforming power. A preacher transformed by God privately can better communicate His truth publicly.

15. Expository preaching makes the task of preaching easier.

Instead of having to prepare fresh material week after week for years, expository preaching sets the agenda and makes sermon planning easier. In a sense, the heart of the message is already written–preachers simply need to study the text and write a clear message proclaiming and applying its important truths. This also makes it easier for preachers to serve a long tenure in the same place–there is always something new to preach. (Additionally, Scripture is filled with many powerful illustrations that are designed to stick in the minds of listeners and powerfully communicating God’s truth. Consider Psalm 1 or the parables of Jesus.)

16. Expository preaching forces preachers to touch on uncomfortable texts of Scripture.

Instead of avoiding difficult topics, expository preaching naturally brings up difficult texts with controversial topics that force preachers work to understand a passage. This is good because all of Scripture is inspired by God and profitable (2 Timothy 3:16). The approach that tries to meet “felt needs” in the congregation falls short because, unlike God, every pastor has blind spots about the needs of their congregation.

17. Expository preaching values the whole counsel of God.

In Acts 20, Paul claimed to be “innocent of the blood of all” because he declared “the whole counsel of God” among the Ephesians. One can conclude that if Paul had failed to teach the whole counsel of God, he would be guilty before God for holding back truth. Expository preaching lets the Word set the agenda, and aids the pastor in declaring the whole counsel of God.

18. Expository preaching keeps the pastor from saddling up one of his hobby horses.

Many pastors have topics of interest that they talk about every chance they get. This becomes a problem when every sermon starts to sound exactly the same, emphasizing the pastor’s “hobby horse” and neglecting other weighty truths. Preaching consecutively through books of the Bible sets the preaching agenda instead of a pastor’s passion.

19. Expository preaching guards against false teaching.

False teachers are promised in Scripture. One of the purposes of teaching and preaching the Word is to lead to Christian maturity and that “we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (Ephesians 4:14). A healthy diet of God’s Word from the pulpit is a needed preventative measure against false teaching (although shepherds always need to be on guard).

20. Expository preaching preaches Christ and results in the salvation of souls.

We cannot afford to stray from the Scripture’s simple gospel message: God saves sinners through faith in His Son Jesus Christ. We are all sinners in need of a Savior. Jesus made it clear in John 5:39-40 that all Scriptures testify about Him and that those who come to Him in faith will find life. When we preach the Scriptures in an expository fashion, we preach a Savior that needy sinners can come to and find eternal life. The apostle Paul said it another way to Timothy, warning him to watch his life and teaching closely, for “by doing so you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Timothy 4:16).

Preacher: Preach the Word! Souls hang in the balance. You cannot afford to rely on anything else. It’s what God wants, it’s what your people need, and it’s what will ultimately grow us all more like Christ and save our souls.


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    Launching Pastoral Training Movements Worldwide

     

    The mission of Leadership Resources is to launch pastoral training movements worldwide. This blog shares articles, resources, and updates from staff of God’s work around the world through our training. If you’re new to our blog, start here.

     


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