Alexander MacLaren was born in Glasgow Scotland on February 11, 1826. His father, David, was a lay Baptist preacher who no doubt had an influence on his young son. When his father left for Australia on a three year business trip, he returned home to find that Alexander had given his life to Christ and had received baptism. Although records are sketchy as to the actual date of his conversion and baptism, we do know that he baptized at Hope Street Baptist Church in Glasgow. Alexander would have been around the age of 12 years old when he trusted in Christ. At the age of 16, Alexander entered Stepney College, a Baptist College in London. He was influenced by Dr. David Davies and became a serious student of Greek and Hebrew. Alexander’s sermons reflect his in-depth understanding of the language. After receiving numerous awards in biblical languages and graduating with a B.A. degree from the college, he was called to his first church at 21 years old. During his first pastorate at Portland Chapel in Southampton, he quickly established himself as a polished and powerful preacher. He stayed at Portland Chapel for 12 years, then was called to pastor Union Chapel in Fallowfield in Manchester England. Alexander remained at Union Chapel until he retired in 1903.
As to the sermons of Alexander MacLaren, he is known in preaching circles today as the “Prince of Expositors.” Alexander believed that preaching was the sole task of the minister. It has been said that when Alexander entered his study, he removed his shoes and put on work boots to remind him that studying the text and writing the sermon was real work. Because of his intense study, he delegated other ministry duties to lay people. Scholars acknowledge that Alexander was a much better preacher than a writer. He had pinned-up nervous energy when he preached but it served him well in the pulpit. His sermon titles were bland but biblical, always encompassing the text. His sermons had three points (I, II, III) and they were clearly organized for effectiveness. His written sermons averaged about 4,000 words and would have taken between 30 and 40 minutes to preach. Alexander shied away from discussing current events or local news, which he has been criticized for by some scholars. However, I believe the criticism is unwarranted and many preachers today stretch biblical truths to connect to contemporary issues. Furthermore, he was a master illustrator and employed metaphors to strengthen his main points. On a whole, MacLaren is one the greatest preachers in history. As a young pastor, I studied his sermon methodology in bible college and have come to appreciate his dedication to the task of preaching. Alexander died May 5, 1910 in Edinburgh. The “Prince of Expositors” remains the gold standard for preaching.
George Whitefield was born on December 27, 1714, in Gloucestershire, England. According to many scholars and historians, he was one of the greatest preachers of all time. Whitefield was instrumental during the Great Awakenings which took place among the American and British colonies during the 1730s and 1740s. Newspaper articles during his lifetime dubbed him as the “Marvel of the Age.” Historians note that George Whitefield preached over 18,000 sermons to nearly 10 million listeners. As a young boy, he loved studying theatrical plays and would often skip school to read them. At Pembroke College in Oxford England, he paid his way through college by waiting on wealthier students. During his college days, he joined the pious Methodist group called “the Holy Club.” It was during those meetings under the tutelage of John Wesley that Whitefield received Christ. After his conversion, he wanted to go to the Georgian colony in America to be a missionary. However, the journey to America was delayed and so he began preaching in and around London. Whitefield soon realized that he was a gifted preacher as people hung on his every word and the crowd sizes began to grow with each passing sermon. His early love for theatrical performances helped shape his presence in the pulpit. Whitfield did not read his sermons but preached extemporaneously without notes. People had never heard this type of sermon before and thus the big attraction. He was not a doctrinal preacher but preached more on biblical characters. Whitefield eventually did make it to the Georgian colonies in America but stayed only three months. During his time in Georgia, he established an orphanage which left him in debt the rest of his life. After his three months stay in America, he returned to England, but the congregations were not receptive to his style of preaching. Then, in 1739 George Whitefield returned to America and preached a revival in Philadelphia which was one of the largest colonies at the time. Since 8,000 people attended the revival, Whitefield was forced to move out into the fields. In most places that he preached, the attendance outnumbered the size of the city. His revival meetings would start in the evening and sometimes go until two or three o’clock in the morning. It was during this time that the Great Awakenings were happening and it was not uncommon for him to preach to more than 20,000 people at one time. Whitfield made the trip back and forth between the American colonies, England and Scotland on numerous occasions. The crowds were huge everywhere Whitefield preached and was the most recognizable person in America. It has been said that when Whitfield opened his mouth to preach, you could’ve heard a pin drop. Even in his later years, Whitefield refused to slow down his preaching schedule. He once said, “I would rather wear out than rust out.” His last sermon took place in the fields while preaching on top of a barrel. The next morning on September 30, 1790, the great orator George Whitefield died.
Sermon: “A Penitent Heart”
Scripture: Luke 13:3
I. Show you what the nature of repentance is.
II. Consider the several parts and causes of repentance.
III. I shall give you some reasons, why repentance is necessary to salvation.
IV. Exhort all of you, high and low, rich and poor, one with another, to endeavor after repentance.
I am excited to begin a new preaching series entitled: The Preacher’s Series. During the five-week series, we will examine five of the greatest pastor’s who ever preached. The series is designed to give a broad stroke over the past five hundred years. Although it is impossible to identify all the great preachers, I have focused on five men who contributed in a significant way to the Kingdom of God and reflects the sermon methodology of the era. I will give a brief biography of each preacher, provide the actual outline used during the sermon and illustrate by using selected quotes from the preacher during the sermon. My hope and prayer is that the congregation will grow deeper in the faith and that God will speak through voices from the past.
John Bunyan (1628-1688) Christ A Complete Savior
The first preacher on the list is John Bunyan. He was born in November 1628 in the town of Elstow about one mile south of Bedfordshire England. His family knew the sting of poverty. However, his parents were able to send their young son to school. He once said, “It pleased God to put it into their hearts to put me to school, to learn me both to read and write.” Even at a young age, he understood the divine intervention of God. The majority of historians note that John Bunyan was an exceptional student who excelled in his studies. When his mother died in 1644, his father remarried again within two months. Unfortunately, this caused a division with his father. John spent the next three years as a soldier. After separating from the military, John married. However, there are no records of the marriage on file. From the Practice of Piety, he writes, “This woman and I, though we came together as poor as poor might be (not having so much household stuff as a dish or a spoon betwixt us both), yet this she had for her part.” After his marriage, the next four years were an intense spiritual struggle. Hence, the writing of Abounding Grace. It was years before he found peace with God. One of the most influential people in his life was John Gifford who was the pastor of an independent religious congregation. In 1653, Bunyan joined the congregation and in a short period of time became a deacon. Then in 1658 at the age of 30, John Bunyan received his call to preach. His most famous work The Pilgrim’s Progress was published in 1678. In my estimation, the work is a reflection of Bunyan’s own spiritual journey. Bunyan began writing the book while in prison at Bedfordshire County prison for violating the Conventicle Act which prohibited holding services outside of the Church of England. The writing is a Christian allegory of the progression of the Christian faith. Since its publication, the work has been translated into 200 different languages. The book has never been out of print. He died August 31, 1688, in London, and is buried in Bunhill Fields in Finsbury. Like so many preachers, his life and experiences shaped his preaching and understanding of the Scriptures.
Sunday, March 4, 2018
Sermon Title: Christ A Complete Savior
Sermon Text: Hebrews 7:25
I. OF THE INTERSESSION OF CHRIST
II. OF THE BENEFITS OF CHRIST’S INTERCESSION
III. THE PERSONS INTERESTED IN THE INTERCESSION OF CHRIST
IV. EVERY SINCERE COMER CERTAIN OF SALVATION
V. THE USE
Yesterday, Billy Graham went home to be with Jesus. There have been many great evangelists throughout history, George Whitefield, Charles Finney and Billy Sunday just to name a few. However, none of these great men can match the evangelistic outreach ministry of Rev. Graham.
The Billy Graham crusades have reached millions of people with the life-changing message of the gospel. Graham’s messages were simple and direct – turn to Christ!
The main focus of his message was John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” This is the gospel message in its purest form. First, the word πιστεύω (believes) means to have complete trust in Christ as the Son of God. The word excludes any other name by which a person can be saved. As the Son of God, he and he alone holds exclusive rights to salvation. Second, the life Christ gives us is eternal. When a person trusts in Christ, He gives them life without end. Although a person dies physically; the person lives spiritually. John 11:25, “Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.” The good news is that salvation promises life after death. And those who trust in Christ go immediately to heaven and are ushered into the presence of Christ. Third, those who reject the message of Christ will perish. The word ἀπόλλυμι (perish) conveys the idea of being spiritually brought to ruin. Rather than spending eternity in heaven, the person will be banished to the fires of eternal damnation. Like heaven, Hell is a real place of torment and pain. The lost person will be thrown into “the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 13:50). Hell is a place of torment and separation from the presence of God. Not for a short period of time, but for all eternity. The prospect is not good for the unbeliever. Today, Billy Graham would say “turn to Christ and live with Him forever!” The choice is yours. Choose wisely!
Pastor Michael J. Frazier
John Calvin (1509-1564) was a theologian who is supposed to be the so-called “Father of Calvinism.” Although based on the tenants of his teaching, Calvinism didn’t emerge until later. Calvin’s followers developed and refined his teachings over time. Many have heard the term “Calvinism” but don’t really know that much about it. The explanation of the teaching is summarized in the word TULIP.
T = Total Depravity. The human condition is such that man is unable and incapable of understanding anything apart from the influence of God. So, man is blind to the gospel and is unable to even consider the gospel without the direct enlightenment of God.
U = Unconditional Election. Calvinists teach that God pre-chose those who would be saved and those who would be lost. And since mankind is unable to reason the gospel in the mind, it stands to reason that God will only quicken the mind of those He is going to save. The lost have no chance because God has already chosen them to spend eternity in hell.
L = Limited Atonement. Furthermore, it stands to reason that if God has already chosen those who are to be saved, then the blood of Christ only applies to the elect of God.
I = Irresistible Grace. Since God is going to save His chosen people, He will draw them to the cross. The grace that God offers will be so irresistible that they will be unable to fight against it. They will be saved because God has ordained it to be so.
P = Perseverance of the Saints. Once the chosen person is drawn to the grace of God, that person will persevere until the end. In other words, those that God has chosen, redeemed by the blood of Christ will continue to be saved until they arrive in the Kingdom.
Although the system sounds good in theory and is an attempt to understand the work of God in redemption, it is flawed like many other theological schemes.
First, it is not God who blinds the mind of man, it is Satan. 2 Corinthians 4:4 clearly states, “The god (satan) of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” The entire system of Calvinism is short-circuited just on this single verse. There are other verses, but that would require a much longer article.
Second, by way of argument, if God has chosen some to be saved and some to be lost, then it is possible to be duped into believing you are saved when in fact you are not. You can’t really be sure if you are chosen or not. Since the mind is total depraved, it is possible to believe something that isn’t true.
Third, any system is suspect because it originates in the mind of man. I do not hold to man’s teachings or follow cleverly designed systems. Let the Bible speak for itself. 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” God desires all to be saved! But, because of human sin and the work of Satan, some will reject the gospel. We do have a free will to respond to the gospel. Remember, there are no innocent bystanders in hell.