Preaching

Want To Study Romans?

The youth ministry is going through the book of Romans this semester and while preparing for this I have gathered up all my Romans resources in order to study more effectively. What are some of the more helpful studies on Romans? What are good resources to lead a Bible study with or to use for your own devotions? Here is a list that divides some of the helpful commentaries and resources into categories for different uses (to be sure, this is NOT an exhaustive list):

  • Helpful commentaries for daily devotions (all of these are helpful for further studies as well)

    • Romans by J.V. Fesko

      • This is an easy to read commentary that would take you through Romans in 50 days. In my opinion, this is one of the best commentaries that I’ve read on Romans.

    • Romans for You (2 Volumes) by Tim Keller

      • This also is very easy to read and also very solid. Keller’s strength is helpful you understand Romans in a simple and clear way while also applying it to real life.

    • The Good Book Guide to Romans (2 Volumes) by Tim Keller

      • This is different from Keller’s devotional commentary in that it has a lot of space for you to answer the questions in the booklet. If you are the type of person who likes to use workbook type resources for your devotions then this one is for you.

    • Romans: The Gospel As It Really Is by Stuart Olyott

      • Short, to the point, and easy daily readings. Olyott strength is that he is clear and by the time you will finish him you should come away with a solid understand not only of the detailed content of Romans but a great overview as well.

  • Commentaries for Bible Studies (to go more in depth)

    • The Message of Romans by John Stott

      • In my opinion, this is a must use for any studies. Just be careful to make up your own first draft of a teaching/preaching outline before you read Stott because you will envy his outline every time you read him.

    • Romans (4 Volumes) by James Montgomery Boice

      • Boice is clear but he also dives deeper into the text which means that this is a longer series. Nevertheless, there is gold in this and is helpful for Bible Study teaching.

    • Romans: The NIV Application Commentary by Douglas Moo

      • Moo has written three commentaries on Romans…so he knows a lot about it. This is very helpful and useful for further studies. I have found it a great jump start when thinking about how to apply the text.

    • Encountering the Book of Romans: A Theological Survey by Douglas Moo

      • This is the resource that I read this summer to get a good “fly over” of Romans. I have found it incredibly helpful to grasp more of the big picture before diving down into the details. Clear, concise, to the point, and will help you understand the riches and history behind the book as well.

    • Romans (Geneva Series of Commentaries) by Robert Haldane

      • This is a classic in every since of the word. It is a commentary that has stood the test of time while also being so relevant for today. Haldane is a verse-by-verse commentary that goes into more depth but he is very readable even when he deals with critics. This is great for more detailed study of individual verses.

    • Romans by John Calvin

      • Once again, this is a classic. Best part about Calvin is that you can find him for free all over the Internet. Calvin is clear and concise and definitely one to consider when studying for a Bible study or sermon.

    • Romans by Charles Hodge

      • [Insert everything that I said about Calvin]

    • Romans by F.F. Bruce

      • Short, to the point, verse-by-verse and one of the best commentators from a Reformed perspective. I have found him very helpful and even used him as part of my daily devotions at times.

  • More in-depth studies

    • Romans by John Murray

      • This is “the granddaddy of them all” as sports commentator Keith Jackson used to say. This is certainly more technical and sometimes difficult to read but it pays off for the diligent. Murray is considered the best commentator on Romans in the Reformed world.

    • The Letter to the Romans by Douglas Moo

      • Closely behind Murray comes Moo with his third resource. This is still pretty clear but it certainly helps to know Greek at some level.

    • Romans by Leon Morris

      • In my early use of Morris, I have found him delightful to read and incredibly helpful to my studies. He interacts with the Greek but not necessarily too much where the non-Greek student wouldn’t have a clue as to what he is saying.

    • Romans by Thomas Schreiner

      • This is a big one and a technical one. This is most helpful with knowledge of the Greek but you could still read it if you don’t know the Greek and pick up some good tips along the way. Schreiner is long but very good in his verse-by-verse commentary.

What Encouragement Do You Need To Cultivate A Prayer Life?

This summer the youth ministry has been going through a series on “Christianity According to Christ”. So far, we have gone through topics such as “Knowing Christ”, “Repentance”, and “Prayer”. All of the texts preached from have been from the Gospels as we are looking to show how Christ viewed Christianity. The whole premise is to show our youth what it really means to be a Christian.

This past Wednesday, we had the honor of having Zach Byrd come preach to the youth on “Prayer”. It is safe to say that this is one of the most clear and motivating sermons on prayer that I have ever heard. Several of our youth said that this was a phenomenal sermon. Zach is a student at RTS and the supply preacher at Bethesda Presbyterian Church and helps out with Youth Ministry at Westminster Presbyterian Church.

Why Be Passionate In Preaching?

Sometimes you read a quote that profoundly shapes your outlook of an entire area of life. For me, the following quote by John Angell James has mightily shaped my view of preaching.

This then was the earnestness of the apostle; one constant, uniform, and undeviating endeavor to save men’s souls by the truth as it is in Jesus…

Is it probable there can be any earnestness in the hearers, when there is none in the preacher? “How is it,” said a minister to an actor, “that your performances, which are but pictures of the imagination, produce so much more effect than our sermons, which are all realities?” “Because,” said the actor, “we represent fictions as though they realities, and you preach realities as though they were fictions.”

4 Ways RTS Jackson Has Shaped Me

Tomorrow night my wife and I will be attending an event hosted by RTS (Reformed Theological Seminary) where they have some students doing a panel discussion on their experiences at RTS Jackson. While thinking in anticipation for this, there have been many thoughts go through my mind about the different ways RTS has shaped me in my time there. Although I am not done until December, I have already seen several ways that my life has been changed because of my studies there. This list could be pages and pages long but I wanted to give just a few that might be helpful. Keep in mind, I transferred to RTS from another seminary because I knew that what RTS was doing at the moment was some of the best in the world and I could not afford to miss out on it.

  1. Big God Theology
    There is no replacement for sitting under teaching for four years while soaking in theology that drowns you (and I’m not talking about theology that you can’t understand because the terms are strange and the wording is complicated but rather the theology that a child can read but an adult is overwhelmed by). True theology “happens” not when people write or teach in a complicated way where only the academic elites understand but rather when they write and teach in an overly simple, relevant, and applicable way but the truth of it is so weighty that it knocks you on your spiritual back. We live in an overly man-centered age of the Church and RTS has battled against that by showing us a God who cannot tamed. If the foundation of sin is built upon pride then the best way to combat against sin is to look to an infinitely glorious God. RTS certainly done that. I cannot tell you how many days I have walked away from class thinking, “I know nothing. I am so small.” Hopefully, you’ll laugh at that thought because we have all been prideful in our thoughts about God and need to be humbled by how “big” He really is. Two of the professors I have to thank for this first reason are Derek Thomas and Bruce Baugus.

  2. Preaching a Big God in a Simple, Clear, and Applicable Style
    What good is it to know all the theology in the world if you can’t help others understand it? Christ has commanded that all Christians live on mission (shoutout to Dr. Elias Medeiros) and that means to present the gospel in word and deed. RTS has shown us that the depths of theology are for the Church. Theology is not left for the academic elites while the rest of the Church just focuses on “Christian living”. If salvation is to know God (John 17:3) and if the entirety of the Word is what sanctifies us (John 17:17) then that means that every Christian needs to understand the depths of theology. The primary way this happens is when a man learns to preach a “big” God in simple ways. One of the best pieces of advice I have gotten came from Reverend Patrick Curles (Associate Minister at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Montgomery, AL) when he told me, “If you can’t preach the gospel to the elementary kids then you can’t preach the gospel to adults.” His point was that if you don’t know the depths of the gospel so clearly that you cannot present it simply to those who can’t read then you don’t really know how to preach the gospel. RTS has put a big emphasis on this. There is no such thing as good preaching if it cannot be understood. There is also no such thing as preaching if you only explain the text. The Bible jumps out at us and redefines all of life and if the preacher does not “apply” the text to the real lives of his congregation then he is not preaching. I am very indebted to Dr. Charlie Wingard for giving us straightforward feedback on the seven sermons that we preach in front of him (and that he graciously sits through). I am also greatly indebted to Dr. Sean Michael Lucas for showing me what it was to proclaim Christ all the time.

  3. We Must Be Pastor-Scholars
    There is an unnecessary division between a pastor and a scholar. I believe it was Sinclair Ferguson who once said that this has only been a recent development in Church History. Through much of the church’s history the pastor has been the scholar and the scholar has been the pastor. RTS has sought to develop pastor-scholars rather than either/or. We make a wrong division when we say that the pastor shouldn’t be someone who studies more for the sake of shepherding the people or that the scholar shouldn’t be someone who relates his studies to the people. The pastor is the “local theologian” for the people and where the pastor is not a theologian then the people tend to be ignorant. Again, RTS has done a superb job of not just teaching us the truth but lighting a fire in us to keep pursuing a greater knowledge of the truth that applies to our people. My father is a long-time veterinarian in Montgomery and he told me once, “Vet school does make someone a veterinarian; it only gives someone a license to learn how to be a veterinarian.” In the same way, seminary doesn’t make a pastor-scholar. Seminary only gives someone the license to learn how to pursue to being a pastor-scholar. The pastor is someone who must always been studying and always learning. For this, I have a massive amount of thanks for Dr. Benjamin Gladd, Dr. Guy Waters, Dr. Miles Van Pelt, and Dr. Mike McKelvey. These four men have not merely convinced me that lifelong study is necessary but also have lit a fire in me to do so.

  4. No Other Way To Prepare Youth Workers
    Unfortunately, youth ministry is seen by many churches and pastors as a “practice round” for future pastors. Youth ministry is often treated as the “minor leagues” while the senior pastor is the “big leagues”. Here’s the problem: the students that I am leading today are the elders for tomorrow. The students I am preaching to tonight are the pastors and counselors for tomorrow. Working at Pear Orchard while pursuing my studies at RTS has been the best preparation for preaching to youth, counseling youth, and leading youth. The Church cannot afford to overlook youth ministry because where youth are neglected the Church is neglected. Our youth are growing up in a Church culture where there is much biblical illiteracy and this is greatly hurting not only the Church but the world. What we need now more than ever is better preaching to youth, better teaching to you, better counseling to youth (massive shoutout to Dr. John Kwasny—yes, the same John Kwasny who is at POPC!), and better discipling of youth. RTS has taught me that the big parts of theology are not left for the “big leagues” but rather they are of utmost necessity for the seventh grader who feels like they have no friends. The tenth grader who struggles with pornography doesn’t need just some web blockers or tips to not look at porn. What they need now more than ever is a “big” God who transforms their lives through the gospel of Jesus Christ. If our youth don’t have “big God preaching” then they will never be transformed. We have too many youth workers who give students fluff and lightweight lessons because they don’t think they can handle the more “weighty” matters of Scripture. I have seen from experience and word of others that when a “big” God is preached in simple, straightforward, relevant, and applicable ways that youth not only listen but are transformed by it. For this, I am forever indebted to RTS for training me in this way.

For all of this, I am forever grateful to Dr. Ligon Duncan for his leadership and passion for RTS and the training of future church leaders.

What Is The Greatest Need Of The Church Today?

The following quote is from Martyn Lloyd-Jones in his sermon on Acts 2:42 which says, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” The following sermon was delivered in August 1969 in Pensacola, Florida.

They also continued in prayers. The old preachers always used to say that the way to test a church is to examine its prayer meeting. They said, '“That’s the powerhouse. The thermometer by which you can measure the warmth of the life of a church is the character of its prayer meeting.” What are the prayer meetings like in our churches? Are they powerhouses? Do you meet with others to pray? Pray for what? Pray for your preacher. Pray for your pastor. Here is a man weak in the flesh, as we are reminded by the apostle Paul: “We have this treasure in earthen vessels” (2 Cor. 4:7). Do you pray regularly week by week that the Holy Spirit may come upon him? I have a fear that the members of our churches are beginning to think that only certain people can evangelize. They will prepare only for some special effort. But do you pray daily and week by week for your own minister? The Spirit can come upon him at any moment. Do you pray that He may do so? That is the only hope. We need revival. We need the Holy Spirit’s power upon us. Nothing will avail until we get it. Are you praying for this?

Youth Ministry Sermons

Since this past Spring, we have been recording our sermons from the Wednesday Night Large Group sessions in our youth ministry. The purpose of recording them is for the benefit of the church for those who miss, to listen to again, or for those who would like to pass them on to a friend or family. Currently, we have our entire sermon series on Judges, Mark, Jonah, and The Gospel & Sexuality. This coming Spring, we will be preaching through the book of Exodus and in the summer we will be preaching various sermons on Prayer. Lord willing, we will begin our series on Romans in Fall 2019. There are other sermons from chapels, FCAs, and youth retreats as well. To access the sermons, visit the "Resources” tab and then click on “Other Audio Messages” or you can just click here.