Selected Articles

Six Biblical Steps for Guidance

This article presents the traditional view that we are to seek guidance from the Lord in all the major decisions of life, and he will clarify our thinking, or overrule our circumstances. ‘Shew me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me.’ (Psalm 25.4-5)

How Do We Love God?

How do we love God who is invisible? He is seen in creation, in salvation, and also in our experience in the ongoing Christian life. How do we love God who is untouchable? But he is touchable by prayer. How do we love God who is unhearable? But we do hear him in his Word. Read much, and we hear him much.

The Day Of The Lord Will Come

What is meant by the day of the Lord? It is clear that Peter is speaking about the very end of time, when the Lord will come, the skies will pass away, and the earth melt and be burned up. When will Christ return? The answer is in the analogy. He will come when society is asleep.

Worship or Entertainment?

Where will your church be five or ten years from now? With the adoption of contemporary worship, many have changed beyond recognition. This is one of the most important issues confronting Bible churches today, and here is why.

The Merger of Calvinism with Worldliness

A new form of Calvinism took the shape of a movement around 2005, but it differed in its acceptance of ‘the world’. ‘New Calvinism’ is not a resurgence of the old but an entirely novel formula which strips the doctrine of holy conduct, and unites it with the world. But the Scriptures say that ‘the friendship of the world is enmity with God.’

Biblical Roles of Men and Women

In Christ ‘there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.’ Neither male nor female is superior to the other in the sight of God. All are heirs together of salvation, equal in standing before God, equal in spiritual value, equal in inheritance.

The Biblical Grounds For Divorce

When problems are brought to a pastor, our first aim is the preservation of the marriage bond, and the keeping of husbands and wives and families together. This must be our first objective: a much better and happier relationship. But sometimes this is not possible.

Should churches comply with government instructions about coronavirus?

Current coronavirus restrictions deeply affect our worship, our fellowship, our Sunday Schools and our outreach. No one likes them or wants them. Recently, a British evangelical periodical asked the question – Should we have a debate about this? Are we doing the right thing? Should the churches, ruled by Christ, surrender so easily to the state – the kingdom of this world?

Recognising and Responding to Seasons of Exceptional Apostasy

The remarkable picture of the present age given in the prophecy of Paul in 2 Timothy 3 is breathtaking both in scope and detail. It is the voice of God that speaks in this passage.

The Awesome God

Three thousand years ago an outstanding king pointed out the way to know God, saying – ‘Stand in awe!’ But what is awe?      I remember a teenage boy who went to see the Niagara Falls and was over­whelmed by the power of that mighty cascade of water. Riveted to the spot, he really felt its danger and magnificence. He went down to the lower shelf to view the…

Long-term Resentment in the Young

‘And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord’ (Ephesians 6.4). It hardly needs to be said that ­­­­parenthood is a tremendous responsibility, and we are glad of every word we have in the Bible showing how we should go about it.    In Ephesians 6.4 Paul gives direction to fathers. Mothers seem to be out of the picture, but obviously…

Witchcraft in a Modern Guise

In reviewing the sins of the flesh (in Galatians 5.19-21) the apostle mentions witchcraft, often today translated sorcery. He actually uses a word which we have in English, although for us it has a much nobler meaning.    The Greek word is a form of our word ‘pharmacy’. Obviously, no ­Bible translation would use this term, because for us it denotes a healing profession, not a sin of the flesh. So in…

The Sword & Trowel Magazine

Current Issue

Sword & Trowel 2023 No. 1

With booklet:
Deepening Discernment
by Dr Peter Masters

The Sword & Trowel magazine was started in 1865 by C. H. Spurgeon.

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Article excerpts on preaching by Dr. Peter Masters

From Regeneration and Gospel Persuasion

We begin with Paul disputing with people at Athens (Acts 17), meaning that he laid out his case to convince people of their need of Christ. He presented arguments and reasoned with them. At Corinth also he reasoned and persuaded constantly (Acts 18.4), eventually being charged with persuading people to worship God (Acts 18.13). Apollos also mightily convinced people (lit: with well-stretched arguments, utterly proving his case).

In Acts 19.8-9 there are two references to disputing and one to persuading, showing the degree of reasoned convincing and remonstrating carried out by Paul at Ephesus. Before Felix, Paul famously ‘reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come’, until Felix trembled (Acts 24.25). This was typical apostolic preaching. Even when a prisoner, Paul turned the dock into a pulpit and persuaded his hearers. At the very close of Acts (28.23), Paul was still persuading and reasoning – to the very end.

Are we preachers? Have we cultivated our skill in reasoning? Paul goes so far as to say – ‘Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men’ (2 Corinthians 5.11). We are called to make a persuasive presentation of the Gospel because it is God’s way of bringing the redeemed into his kingdom. When we are gathered into eternal glory, our cry of gratitude will be, ‘I was humbled to the dust; I felt my spiritual emptiness and need; I saw my desperately sinful state; I grasped how evil and foolish I was; I saw the Christ of Calvary, and I came to him longingly, willingly and freely for salvation.’

It is the will of God that preachers, witnessing believers, and the printed page, should be instrumental in this. Of course, the vital work is performed by the Lord, so the apostle rises no higher than saying, ‘we are labourers together with God.’ But we are his spokespeople.

Do you wrestle with souls as a preacher? It is a wonderful calling to search the Scripture, foraging for evangelistic arguments and parallels to salvation in both Testaments.

The hallmark of the Reformation was evangelistic preaching. And soon afterward the Puritans  reasoned with, appealed to and expostulated with souls. Evangelistic preaching was a defining characteristic of the rise of the Baptists, particularly through the golden age of Baptist expansion. We may read the classic sermons of John Bunyan to see the tender affection for souls, and the striving to gain them.

It was also the hallmark of preaching in the 18th-century Great Awakening (read the sermons of George Whitefield), not to mention the revivals of the 19th century and the high era of the Victorian pulpit, with all its persuasiveness.

From Expository Preaching – Benefits and Pitfalls

What exactly is ­expository preaching? It is preaching that draws the message from the biblical text, clearly and methodically, honouring the sense of the text, and the style of communication employed. Before looking at classic examples from sermons of C H Spurgeon, here are some of the benefits and common mistakes of consecutive expository preaching.

Firstly, if the preacher works through a book of the Bible week by week it becomes obvious to everyone that the Word of God is the supreme authority for all that is taught. The preacher is clearly in captivity to the Bible. Consecutive expository preaching is the greatest witness to biblical ­authority.

second virtue of consecutive expository preaching is that it helps the preacher to suppress his personal opinions. Because he is dominated by the Scripture, and bound to follow its presentation of information and its arguments, the preacher’s personal style of reasoning should be helpfully subordinated to that of God’s Word.

third virtue of consecutive expository preaching is that it obliges the preacher to present ­everything that is in the Scripture. By nature, most preachers will tend to emphasise a certain group of subjects and to neglect others. But by proceeding through a book they are bound to address every topic that presents itself, and so preach on a comprehensive range of vital themes.

fourth virtue of consecutive expository preaching is that it shows the people of God the plan and the purpose of a whole Bible book, which would probably not happen if the preacher darted from book to book selecting individual sermon texts. Think of the immense advantage to the people of God of becoming familiar with the overall scheme of entire books of the Bible. It is a very great help to private study.

Fifthly, consecutive expository preaching also enables the preacher to bring out the themes that often run through one or more chapters. He pays more attention to the context, and this delivers him from many mistakes. Would the so-called ‘holiness movement’ have developed if its proponents had been consecutive preachers? Would they not have hesitated to preach sanctification-by-faith when they saw that the whole chapter or passage was speaking about justification?

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