Contending For The Faith

June 18, 2009

Great Christian Influences

This is a common topic on Internet blogs and message boards: list your favorite Bible teachers, or list the ones you’re most influenced by / learned from, etc.

Over time I find this list changes, and it’s always interesting to see the lists from others. Many of the names are unfamiliar, though over time I begin to hear more about those individuals. My own list is much smaller than others, those who obviously have been studying from many Christian teachers over many years.

Here is my own list of those great influences:

  • John MacArthur
  • Phil Johnson
  • Charles Spurgeon
  • S. Lewis Johnson

I’ve studied some from a few other names during the last 12 months– R.C. Sproul, Jim McClarty–but these are the important ones, and really more than I have enough time for in any given week. Unlike the  blogger, I don’t have an iPod to do podcasts, so I’m sticking with the “old” technology of MP3 files played on my computer, or burned to CDs and CD-RWs to play on the home DVD player or the car stereo.

My typical week includes:

  • listening to at least two John MacArthur sermons in my car, CD-RW discs with WAV files — currently listening to his Revelation series, up to chapter 16.
  • reading Charles Spurgeon devotionals (from Alistair Begg’s “Truth for Life” daily devotional emails), and reading a few sermons from the 1855 New Park Street volume
  • reading some of Pulpit magazine  and Teampyro blogs
  • listening to S. Lewis Johnson MP3s: half a sermon (about 23 – 25 minutes) each weekday morning before going to work.  I just started his series through Genesis.  Also, listening to MP3s of SLJ’s eschatology series, usually one message each weekday, on my PC at work (currently finished up through number 20 out of 37)

I’ve especially come to appreciate S. Lewis Johnson recently — a name I had often heard in the last several months, as being of like theological views to John MacArthur and Grace Community Church (baptist, Calvinist, dispensational). He really was a great teacher as well, with great depth of teaching (what I also appreciate about John MacArthur), and now I hope to listen to all of his messages, available on the Believer’s Chapel website (link here), and I’ll start by going through from Genesis to Revelation, all of his scripture-book messages.


January 29, 2009

Psalm 2, Eschatology, and Expository Preaching

Filed under: Bible Study,eschatology,Phil Johnson — Lynda O @ 12:15 pm
Tags: , ,

The local pastor has often said that he learned a lot of his theology by encountering bad theology, through the process of learning how to refute it. He observed this in reference to someone in the Church of Christ, and proper understanding of  salvation. In my own spiritual journey, I find how true this is — though in my case, with the local pastor’s own bad/weak theology.  As I consider the words of scripture, and compare the local pastor to the teaching of more-learned pastors, I too can come to a better understanding of God’s word and recognize truth and error.

The most recent incident involves Psalm 2, a fairly short Psalm packed with lots of detail, the first of several Messianic psalms. After hearing some of the local pastor’s session through this Psalm at a recent Wednesday evening service, I listened to Phil Johnson’s sermon on this very Psalm, “The Rage of the Heathen Against a Sovereign God,” for good contrast. Interestingly enough, Phil began this sermon by commenting that he only had a half-day that Saturday to prepare a sermon, and thus he broke from his regular study series to do a shorter passage, and these are the times he often preaches from the Psalms. Then he delivered an excellent, expository verse-by-verse sermon, with great insights. Johnson notes the division of the Psalm into four sections: the words of the nation, followed by verses spoken by God in each of the three persons, a trinitarian Psalm in a sense. In this Psalm Johnson describes the doctrine of the eternal sonship of Christ, and properly addresses God’s sense of humor as a scornful derision, one that is not just humor for its own sake but that shows God’s sovereignty and scorn / pity towards the lost. He presents the fulfillment of the verses which apply to Christ’s crucifixion, and relates the present-day reality of lost man raging against God, something he experiences regularly with his blog and the hateful, blasphemous emails he receives from the “Internet infidels.” God’s sovereignty over mankind, as well as God’s mercy, that the very ones who rage against Him and hate Him, will be brought in to become His people, also come out in this sermon.

Contrast this with the typical pattern of the local pastor (and no doubt this applies to many local church pastors as well; so few pastors can really preach and teach at the level of Phil Johnson, John MacArthur, and others I’ve come to appreciate from the Master’s Seminary), a rambling that quickly goes off course, even way into left field in the pastor’s continual push for his preterist / amill eschatology — a preaching style that tends to gloss over the details of what a given text is saying, to casually say that it means one thing, when a careful exegesis of the text itself and in light of all other biblical texts, shows that that is NOT what the text is saying. This preaching, now that I can spot all the flaws, is in a way humorous (except that it can mislead others, alas) and certainly provides extra topic material, for blog entries as well as for further study of the real texts. Here, for instance, I learned that the pastor thinks the harlot woman in Revelation 17 is Israel; he stated his certainty on that point, though without giving further details or exegesis to prove that assertion.  Considering that he also believes that Daniel’s 70th week was completed in the 1st century, and holds to the NCT (New Covenant Theology) construct that the church is the real Israel, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised — though again, this is a big leap from supposedly teaching about Psalm 2. This view completely misses the point of the events in Revelation — the Great Tribulation, the time of “Jacob’s trouble” also spoken of in Old Testament passages. He noted his uncertainty about Revelation 17 being a future event (using the word “if”), and maintains Israel in a permanently apostate condition, completely missing the fact of what Revelation is about, how God is going to bring great trouble on national Israel and save a large number of them. He mentioned the creature with ten horns and seven heads, but without any reference to the parallel passages in Daniel, which also help set the context of the scenes in Revelation.  More could be said here, but this gives the general idea — and again reminds me why I often tune him out and read good Bible teaching instead.

Yet I can be thankful even for the bad teaching, in that it prompts me to look into a matter for myself — to find better material available online, such as the great expository, verse-by-verse preaching of the truly biblical preachers.

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