Category Archives: Preaching notes

Inside Spurgeon’s Head

What follows is a rare glimpse into the inner-workings of Charles Spurgeon’s brain while he preached, as he explained in Lectures to My Students [(Carter and Brothers, 1889), 2:27-28]:

The Spirit of God acts also as an anointing oil, and this relates to the entire delivery—not to the utterance merely from the mouth, but to the whole delivery of the discourse. He can make you feel your subject till it thrills you, and you become depressed by it so as to be crushed into the earth, or elevated by it so as to be borne upon its eagle wings; making you feel, besides your subject, your object, till you yearn for the conversion of men, and for the uplifting of Christians to something nobler than they have known as yet.

At the same time, another feeling is with you, namely, an intense desire that God may be glorified through the truth which you are delivering. You are conscious of a deep sympathy with the people to whom you are speaking, making you mourn over some of them because they know so little, and over others because they have known much but have rejected it.

You look into some faces, and your heart silently says, “The dew is dropping there;” and turning to others, you sorrowfully perceive that they are as Gilboa’s dewless mountain. All this will be going on during the discourse.

We cannot tell how many thoughts can traverse the mind at once. I once counted eight sets of thoughts which were going on in my brain simultaneously, or at least within the space of the same second. I was preaching the gospel with all my might, but could not help feeling for a lady who was evidently about to faint, and also looking out for our brother who opens the windows that he might give us more air. I was thinking of that illustration which I had omitted under the first head, casting the form of the second division, wondering if A felt my rebuke, and praying that B might get comfort from the consoling observation, and at the same time praising God for my own personal enjoyment of the truth I was proclaiming.

Some interpreters consider the cherubim with their four faces to be emblems of ministers, and assuredly I see no difficulty in the quadruple form, for the sacred Spirit can multiply our mental states, and make us many times the men we are by nature. How much he can make of us, and how grandly he can elevate us, I will not dare to surmise: certainly, he can do exceeding abundantly above what we ask or even think.

Yes, and especially so if you were a genius to begin with.

Tell them that again

tsslogo.jpgOn Fridays I’m often reminded how many readers of TSS are preaching pastors. Thank you for your ministry diligence and I thank you for your readership. This post is for you.

In the sermon “All of Grace” on Ephesians 2:8 (#3479), Charles Spurgeon recounted an early preaching experience with his grandfather and reminds preachers to “tell them that again,” a reminder to ephasize the fundamental truths of Scripture (like the Cross) over and over again!

“I am led to remember this by the fact that a somewhat singular circumstance, recorded in my memory, connects this text [Eph. 2:8] with myself and my grandfather. It is now long years ago. I was announced to preach in a certain country town in the Eastern Counties. It does not often happen to me to be behind time, for I feel that punctuality is one of those little virtues which may prevent great sins. But we have no control over railway delays, and breakdowns; and so it happened that I reached the appointed place considerably behind the time.

Like sensible people, they had begun their worship, and had proceeded as far as the sermon. As I neared the chapel, I perceived that someone was in the pulpit preaching, and who should the preacher be but my dear and venerable grandfather! He saw me as I came in at the front door and made my way up the aisle, and at once he said, ‘Here comes my grandson! He may preach the gospel better than I can, but he cannot preach a better gospel; can you, Charles?’

As I made my way through the throng, I answered, ‘You can preach better than I can. Pray go on.’ But he would not agree to that. I must take the sermon, and so I did, going on with the subject there and then, just where he left off. ‘There,’ said he, ‘I was preaching on ‘For by grace are ye saved.’ I have been setting forth the source and fountainhead of salvation; and I am now showing them the channel of it, through faith. Now you take it up, and go on.’

I am so much at home with these glorious truths that I could not feel any difficulty in taking from my grandfather the thread of his discourse, and joining my thread to it, so as to continue without a break. Our agreement in the things of God made it easy for us to be joint-preachers of the same discourse. I went on with ‘through faith,’ and then I proceeded to the next point, ‘and that not of yourselves.’

Upon this I was explaining the weakness and inability of human nature, and the certainty that salvation could not be of ourselves, when I had my coat-tail pulled, and my well-beloved grandsire took his turn again. ‘When I spoke of our depraved human nature,’ the good old man said, ‘I know most about that, dear friends’; and so he took up the parable, and for the next five minutes set forth a solemn and humbling description of our lost estate, the depravity of our nature, and the spiritual death under which we were found.

When he had said his say in a very gracious manner, his grandson was allowed to go on again, to the dear old man’s great delight; for now and then he would say, in a gentle tone, ‘Good! Good!’ Once he said, ‘Tell them that again, Charles.’ and, of course, I did tell them that again. It was a happy exercise to me to take my share in bearing witness to truths of such vital importance, which are so deeply impressed upon my heart.

While announcing this text I seem to hear that dear voice, which has been so long lost to earth, saying to me, “TELL THEM THAT AGAIN.” I am not contradicting the testimony of forefathers who are now with God. If my grandfather could return to earth, he would find me where he left me, steadfast in the faith, and true to that form of doctrine which was once delivered to the saints.”

Sermon notes: Abide in My Love (John 15:9)

abide-in-my-love.jpgThe Twin Cities and the surrounding communities are coming out of a tragic week. In John 15 the disciples were heading into tragedy. Jesus’ words of comfort in John 15:1-11 provided the content for a sermon I delivered on this past Sunday (Aug. 5) at Trinity Bible Church in North Branch, MN. Abiding in Christ is a call for Christians to press into the vine and find our spiritual vitality in Christ and Him crucified. Jesus reminds us that we are both saved and sustained by the Cross.

Abide in My Love – 8/5/07 – sermon notes (pdf)
Abide in My Love – 8/5/07 – sermon audio (mp3) 32.6 MB

[See more sermon notes. Words of helpful criticism are always welcomed on content and delivery.]

(Tony S. Reinke; Trinity Bible Church; North Branch, MN; 8/5/2007 AM service; 47:23; 32.6 MB; John 15:1-11, John 15:9, Galatians 2:20, John 6:53-58, Galatians 1-2, The Glory of Christ by John Owen).

Keeping your quotes in order

Frequently pastors ask me to explain my method of indexing quotes. You are looking at it, really.

1. Value blogs

One of the primary reasons for launching this blog was to allow myself enough categories to track quotes easily and to have the freedom of classifying quotes into multiple categories. You, too, may find it helpful to start your own blog simply for the purpose of keeping quotes in order.

But here are a few more suggestions to keeping your library well-indexed…

2. Value commentaries

I intentionally avoid a lot of “contemporary issues” books. There are thousands of books out there on the newest controversies, debates and methods. While these can be helpful, they can also be an overwhelming time-consumer and impossible to adequately index for a busy pastor. Start to collect a few hundred of these books and it becomes easy to forget what issues you have already covered.

So my goal has always been to spend more money on commentaries than on topical books. As an expositor, this has proven very helpful over the years. If you do not index well or don’t have the time, buy the very best commentaries you can. They need no indexing (and will hold their value better over time).

[Speaking of excellent commentaries, tomorrow we will look at Jeremiah Burroughs’ commentary on Hosea, recently re-printed by Reformation Heritage Books.]

3. Value a book with a good index

If you must, look for topical books with scriptural and subject indexes in the back. Someone has done the indexing for you.

4. Value an organized library

Be certain to group your topical books that cover the same issue. It may be nice to categorize your library by author, but it’s not practical. A few weeks ago I posted my library database here so you can see how I grouped my topical books (click here for the .pdf).

5. Value a database

Another useful tool is assembling a simple Excel database for quotes. Here is a .pdf version of my very small but growing index.

Hopefully these simple suggestions will help maximize your study time and feed your flocks more efficiently.

Building a Blank Bible (part 1)

As promised, this week I’ll be showing you how to build your very own Blank Bible. But first, why would you want one? I don’t know of any publishers who make them and it’s a little time consuming to build. So why go through the work?

Well, there are several reasons actually.

The most important reason being you can keep those precious biblical insights close to the texts they originate. I have a drawer full of notes I’ve scratched out while listening to sermons over the years. And even at times I’ve used a Moleskine notebook for the same purpose. However, notecards and notebooks are scattered and disorganized. Unless I specifically recall a sermon on a certain text, the notes are largely forgotten in a large stack.

Owning one Bible with enough room to hold your personal notes close to the Biblical texts means the next time you study Ephesians you will have the notes from a Bible study on Ephesians five years ago.

Second, a Blank Bible is a great place to collect the fruit of your own meditation. Don’t fill the Blank Bible with notes you can find in any commentary. Make the notes in this bible flow from your own personal reflection and let the commentaries point out the exegetical and technical stuff.

Third, it’s a simple fact that we remember things better if we think about them and write our recollections down. Journaling is a good example of this and the Blank Bible affords enough space.

Fourth, just as Jonathan Edward’s Blank Bible is now a national treasure, your insights may also be treasured by someone else. Whether you leave the Bible to your spouse or children or grandchildren, when you are gone your Bible will continue to speak. So think and write clearly.

Tomorrow … the first attempt at the Blank Bible. And since there will be a second I’ll assume you already know the first was a failure.

Sermon notes: Psalm 73

Last night I had the honor of preaching a sermon on Depression, Worldliness and the Presence of God (Psalm 73). For those interested here’s the audio:

Psalm 73 – Tony Reinke – 7/30/06 – Audio (mp3)

Summary: Depression covers the heart when we envy the comforts and excesses of the ungodly (vv. 1-16). To help us out of depression and protect us from it we are reminded that God’s eternal judgment is near (vv. 17-22) and His presence is here (vv. 23-28).

(Tony S. Reinke, Omaha Bible Church, 7/30/2006 PM – 47:26 – 21 MB – Psalm 73:1-28, Psalm 16:8,11; Philippians 3:18-19).

Sermon notes: God sings over the justified sinner!

I had the great opportunity to preach on grace tonight here in Omaha. The sermon notes can be downloaded here (The Grand Canyon of God’s Grace, Tony Reinke, 07/15/06 PM). One of the chief texts was Zephaniah 3:14-17:

“14 Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! 15 The LORD has taken away the judgments against you; he has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil. 16 On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: ‘Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. 17 The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing’” (ESV).

On this incredible text, C.H. Spurgeon said:

“I can understand a minister rejoicing over a soul that he has brought to Christ; I can also understand believers rejoicing to see others saved from sin and hell; but what shall I say of the infinitely happy and eternally-blessed God finding, as it were, a new joy in souls redeemed? This is another of those great wonders that cluster around the work of divine grace! … The Lord takes pleasure in them that fear him, imperfect though they be. He sees them as they are to be, and so he rejoices over them, even when they cannot rejoice in themselves. When your face is blurred with tears, your eyes red with weeping, and your heart heavy with sorrow for sin, the great Father is rejoicing over you. The prodigal son wept in his Father’s bosom, but the Father rejoiced over his son. We are questioning, doubting, sorrowing, trembling; and all the while he who sees the end from the beginning knows what will come out of the present disquietude, and therefore rejoices. Let us rise in faith to share the joy of God.” (sermons from 1837, #1990)

Amen, let us prepare to rise and share the joy of God in Sunday morning worship! – Tony

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