What Is Arminianism? ~ J. I. Packer

What Is Arminianism?1

Historically, Arminianism has appeared as a reaction against Calvinism, affirming, in the words of W. R. Bagnall, “conditional in opposition to absolute predestination, and general in opposition to particular redemption.”2 This verbal antithesis is not in fact as simple or clear as it looks, for changing the adjective involves redefining the noun. What Bagnall should have said is that Calvinism affirms a concept of predestination from which conditionality is excluded, and a concept of redemption to which particularity is essential, and Arminianism denies both. The difference is this. To Calvinism, predestination means foreordination, whereas to Arminianism it means only foresight of events not foreordained. On the Calvinist view, election, which is a predestinating act on God’s part, means the foreordaining of particular sinners to be saved by Jesus Christ, through faith, and redemption, the first step in working out God’s electing purpose, is an achievement actually securing certain salvation—calling, pardon, adoption, preservation, final glory—for all the elect. On the Arminian view, however, what the death of Christ secured was a possibility of salvation for sinners generally, a possibility which, so far as God is concerned, might never have been actualized in any single case; and the electing of individuals to salvation is no more than God noting in advance who will believe and qualify for glory, as a matter of contingent (not foreordained) fact. Whereas to Calvinism election is God’s resolve to save, and the cross Christ’s act of saving, for Arminianism salvation rests neither on God’s election nor on Christ’s cross, but on a man’s own cooperation with grace, which is something that God does not Himself guarantee.

Drawn from Packer’s excellent introduction to John Owen’s The Death of Death in the Death of Christ (first published in 1647). The title to this introduction is simply “Arminianisms.” The work is also found in this collection of Packer’s writings: Puritan Papers – Vol. 5, 1968-1969. We hope to continue to pull some quotations from this work in the next few months, and you will see why in the next paragraph.

This week we will be focusing on some Canons of Dordt items in connection with the 400th anniversary (1618-19/2018-19). There are some new and exciting resources available on the “great Synod” and its work. Watch for these posts in the days to come!

If you wish to continue reading Packer’s essay, visit the link below.

Source: Arminianisms | Monergism

January 2019 Tabletalk: Commemorating the Synod of Dordt

We are overdue in noting the January 2019 issue of Tabletalk, Ligonier Ministries monthly devotional magazine. This month’s issue is a special one for all Reformed Christians and true Calvinists, for it is a tribute to the 400th anniversary of the great Synod of Dordt (1618-19).

Editor Burk Parsons gives a fine introduction to the theme with his “Five New Points of Old Heresy.” Here are a few of his thoughts:

If indeed we are Christians, we will care what we believe and, therefore, what we confess in our creed, for what we believe is the very basis of whether we are biblically orthodox or whether we’re heretics. The historic Reformed creeds and confessions summarize and systematically articulate what the Word of God teaches us, to the end that we might glorify God and enjoy Him forever. If we care about what we believe, we will care about the historic creeds and confessions of the church, and we will care about what happened in the Netherlands four hundred years ago and how the Reformed church responded.

Tonight we also wish to call attention to the first featured article, which is penned by noted Reformed historian Dr. W. Robert Godfrey. He writes the article linked below, “The Reason for Dort.” He provides a historical overview of the synod and its work, demonstrating why this “great synod” was necessary. That reason was chiefly the false teachings of James Arminius and his followers, known as Arminians, which made a defense of the absolute sovereignty of God and His saving grace so crucial.

We pull a few paragraphs from his article, encouraging you to read the rest at the link below.

The Dutch Calvinists decided that the synod should be more than simply a national synod. They invited representatives from most of the Reformed churches of Europe to attend and to be full voting members of the synod. The result was the greatest and most ecumenical gathering of Reformed churches ever held. (Lest my Presbyterian friends feel that I am slighting the Westminster Assembly, let me remind them that that assembly was not properly a church gathering but a gathering of theologians to advise the English Parliament.)

The Synod of Dort did its work carefully and thoroughly. It met from mid-November 1618 until late May 1619, first hearing the Arminians and then, when they were uncooperative, reading their writings. The greatest accomplishment of the synod was the preparation of what are known as the Canons of Dort. These canons or rulings of Dort respond to the five points of Arminianism. Strictly speaking, Calvinism does not have only five points; rather, it has the many points that one finds in the Belgic Confession or the Westminster Confession of Faith. Calvinism has five answers to the five errors of Arminianism. The canons respond point by point to the Arminian summary presented in 1610. The synod’s first head (or chapter) is on unconditional election. The second head is on limited atonement. The synod combines the third and fourth heads to show that total depravity is maintained only when the necessity of irresistible grace is taught. The fifth head teaches the perseverance of the saints because of the preserving grace of God.

And then, after pointing out some of the synod’s other work, Godfrey ends with this:

The Synod of Dort did outstanding work that is well worth celebrating four hundred years later. It preserved the true teaching of the Bible on salvation and provided in other ways as well for the well-being of the life of the church. The synod fought the good fight to which Jude calls Christians. The fight did lead to a fracture in the church. A small minority left to form the Remonstrant Brotherhood. But as Jude makes clear, such a division is not the fault of the orthodox but the fault of those who oppose the truth (Jude 19). The great accomplishment of the synod was that it kept, taught, and defended our faith, “our common salvation” (v. 3).

Source: The Reason for Dort

Additionally, and related to this, Ligonier will soon be releasing a new work on Dordt by Godfrey. The title is Saving the Reformation: The Pastoral Theology of the Canons of Dort (Reformation Trust, Jan. 2019). This is the publisher’s description:

There has been renewed interest in the five points of Calvinism among many Christians today. But these doctrines are not a product of the twenty-first century. So where did they come from, and why are they so important? Dr. W. Robert Godfrey takes us back to 1618-19 when the Canons of Dort were written in response to a mounting theological assault on Reformed Christianity. Now, for its four-hundredth anniversary, he offers a new translation and pastoral commentary on the canons, equipping the next generation with these God-glorifying truths.

2019 Reading Challenges: One for Kids and Teens and One for Adults!

As we are halfway through this first month of the new year, and as this blog is primarily about reading, it is high time we considered some 2019 reading challenges! 

We start with that of the “Redeemed Reader,” which introduced their 2019 version for teens and children last week (Jan.11). Here are a few lines from their introduction to it:

Our 2019 Reading Challenge for Kids and Teens is back and better than ever! This is year 3 for our annual reading challenge, and we’ve added some different components to extend your reading life.

We’ve also packaged the whole thing up into a handy pdf you can download and save to your computer. Printing just the pages you want and/or referencing it throughout the year will be easier than ever!

Why a Reading Challenge, or, Why do YOU Want to Join a Reading Challenge?

Perhaps the most important question is not, “Which challenge should I do?” but “WHY am I participating in a reading challenge in the first place?” (Or, why does your son or daughter want to participate?)

The point of the Redeemed Reader 2019 Reading Challenge is not to encourage you to simply read more books. After all, speed reading merely to check a title off of a list does nothing to enrich your actual life.

No, the point of our reading challenge is to encourage you to be more intentional with your reading life. Depending on the habits you already have in place, different sorts of challenges will be more or less beneficial for you. Most readers need some nudges to diversify our reading, and our reading challenges below are directly geared to that.

You may want to get the whole family involved with this one. There is much more found at the link below about the “hows” and “whys” of a reading challenge like this. And, of course, “RR” has plenty of book ideas for you to get started and to sustain your commitment to reading in 2019.

Then, for us adults, Tim Challies has once again issued his yearly book-reading challenge. As you may remember, he breaks his down into nice categories, to accommodate all types of readers – from the casual to the serious. Here is how that looks:

The 2019 Christian Reading Challenge is composed of 4 lists of books, which you are meant to move through progressively. You will need to determine a reading goal early in the year and set your pace accordingly.

  • The Light Reader. This plan has 13 books which sets a pace of 1 book every 4 weeks.
  • The Avid Reader. The Avid plan adds another 13 books which increases the pace to 1 book every 2 weeks.
  • The Committed Reader. This plan adds a further 26 books, bringing the total to 52, or 1 book every week.
  • The Obsessed Reader. The Obsessed plan doubles the total to 104 books which sets a demanding pace of 2 books every week.

And this is how he challenges us with this structure (pushes hard might be the better word – but that’s good!):

Begin with the Light plan, which includes suggestions for 13 books. Choose those books and read them in any order, checking them off as you complete them. When you have finished those 13, advance to the Avid plan. Use the criteria there to choose another 13 books and read them in any order. Then it’s time to move to the Committed plan with a further 26 books. When you have completed the Committed plan (that’s 52 books so far!), you are ready to brave the Obsessed plan with its 104 books. Be sure to set your goal at the beginning of the year so you can make sure you’re reading at the right pace.

All you need to do is download the list (or buy a printed version—see below), choose your first few books, and get going. Happy reading in 2019!

To which challenges I can only add – read on, my friends! Scour the bookstores (online and the “brick and mortar” ones) and find those special titles that interest you and that will grow your heart and soul and life! As we go through this year, we can share our good finds and good reads. And, yes, by all means enjoy your reading!

Source: 2019 Reading Challenge for Kids and Teens – Redeemed Reader

Published in: on January 16, 2019 at 10:21 PM  Leave a Comment  

To Read Well, Enjoy (and Work Hard!) – K. S. Prior

reading-well-priorPractice [for reading well] makes perfect, but pleasure makes practice more likely, so read something enjoyable. If a book is so agonizing that you avoid reading it, put it down and pick up one that brings you pleasure. Life is too short and books are too plentiful not to. Besides, one can’t read well without enjoying reading.

On the other hand, the greatest pleasures are those born of labor and investment. A book that requires nothing from you might offer the same diversion as that of a television sitcom, but it id unlikely to provide intellectual, aesthetic, or spiritual rewards long after the cover is closed. Therefore, even as you seek books that you will enjoy reading, demand ones that make demands on you: books with sentences so exquisitely crafted that they must be reread, familiar words used in fresh ways, new words so evocative that you are compelled to look them up, and images and ideas so arresting that they return to you unbidden for days to come.

A few more good thoughts on ‘reading well” in Karen S. Prior‘s new book by that title (On Reading Well, which I purchased at the local Barnes & Noble store last Fall. As I make my way through it this year, we will be sharing its wisdom with you. There is much to be found just in the “Introduction” (as I am discovering).

So what are you set to read this year? Are you making good choices? Will you read well, for virtue (Prior’s aim)? You may also read for pleasure as you do so – pleasure that comes from work, as you see above. Push yourself, while also enjoying what you read. I promise to do the same.

Published in: on January 14, 2019 at 10:55 PM  Leave a Comment  

Thoughts on Worship as Living Sacrifice – R. C. Sproul

…God’s feelings are not hurt by insincere praise, but neither is He honored by it. God is never honored by flattery. That is why true worship must be sincere.

…The central element of worship in the Bible involved honoring, blessings, esteeming, and reverencing God. A sacrifice was offered as an outward sign of a heart that was filled with awe, reverence, and respect toward God. When a sacrifice was not given in faith, it was nothing more than an external rite, a formal pattern of behavior that was not an expression of true faith that held God in the highest possible esteem and reverence. It lacked what the Wisdom Literature calls the fear of the Lord, that sense of awe by which the heart is inclined to adore and honor the Creator. The very heart of worship, as the Bible makes clear, is the business of expressing, from the depths of our spirits, the highest possible honor we can offer before God.

[In connection with Romans 12:1,2] …It is as if Paul said to the Romans: ‘Think of the gospel. What is your response to what Christ has done for you – Christ, who spared nothing, who gave His life for His people, who made the ultimate sacrifice for His sheep? How do we respond to that? What is the reasonable response?’ Paul said, ‘Here is your reasonable service or your spiritual worship.’

So we are to respond to the gospel with a sacrifice – not a sacrifice of money, of time, or of material goods, but a sacrifice of our lives. Paul said we are to present to God our bodies – that is, ourselves – as living sacrifices. …He is not asking for martyrdom or for us to give our blood. He wants something more. He wants our lives. The response of faith is a giving of oneself, body and soul, to Christ.

And then, finally, reflecting on the fact that none of us has ever given such a perfect sacrifice to God, he comments:

…He would tell me [on judgment day] that every sacrifice I have ever offered has been marred, sullied, and compromised by the sin I have brought with it. If He were to look at the sacrifice that I offered, even if I offered it in the name of Christ, He would reject it as radically as He rejected the offering of Cain. My only hope is the glorious truth that the offering I give to my Creator today is carried to His presence by the perfect Mediator, who takes our sacrifices of praise and presents them to the Father.

taste-of-heaven-sproulThis is another post following our Sunday discussion groups this year at our home church (Faith PRC), which met tonight. We are continuing a study of R.C. Sproul’s book on worship. It was originally published under the title A Taste of Heaven: Worship in the Light of Eternity (Reformation Trust, 2006 – the copy I have), but has been newly published under the title How Then Shall We Worship? (David C. Cook, 2013, the Kindle version of which I also have). The above quotation is taken from chapter 3, “Living Sacrifices” (pp.39-47).

A Theology of Listening (to the Preaching of the Word) – K. Ramey

This  [that is, that the Bible is the inspired, reliable Word of God] also means when a preacher faithfully preaches the Bible, it is God speaking and not the preacher (John 14:24; Acts 13:7,44). By virtue of the fact that God is the one who spoke it, we should listen and obey.

It’s His Word.

Just like a child should listen to and obey what their parents say for no other reason than it is the right things to do because of who they are (Eph.6:1-2), we should listen to and obey what our heavenly Father has said because of who He is. God’s Word is an expression of all that He is. He spoke forth His Word so that we know about His glory, His love, His grace, His mercy, His power, His wrath, His justice, His goodness, His faithfulness, etc. God’s character is inherent in His Word (cf. Ps.138:2). What makes the Bible so dynamic and gives it the ability to dissect our hearts with such precision and so accurately discern every aspect of our lives is because it is the Word of the all-powerful, all-knowing God (Heb.4:12-13). Whenever we are exposed to the Word of God we are in essence being exposed to God Himself (1 Cor.14:24-25). That alone should be enough to motivate us to honor and obey the Word of God.

ExpositoryListeningTaken from Expository Listening: A Handbook for Hearing and Doing God’s Word by Ken Ramey (Kress Biblical Resources, 2010), Chapter 1 – “Biblical Audiology: A Theology of Listening.” We touched on the introduction in our first post. In the months ahead I plan to draw on some of the author’s good thoughts concerning our calling to listen believingly to God’s Word proclaimed.

A Prayer After the Explanation of the [Heidelberg] Catechism

prayer-bible-1The 1934 edition of the Psalter Hymnal published by the Christian Reformed Church contains a section of “Christian Prayers” in the liturgical part in the back. Two of those prayers relate to the preaching of the Heidelberg Catechism. Prof. B. Gritters referenced these in his first Interim course lecture last Friday (Jan.4).

[This course on Heidelberg Catechism Preaching is being live-streamed daily this week and through next Tues, Jan.15 on the PRC Seminary’s YouTube channel. The videos from each day (2 lectures, except for yesterday’s class) may also be found there.]

In our Sunday post (Jan.6) we quoted the first one; in this one we post the other. This one has the heading “Prayer After the Explanation of the Catechism.” I believe you will find it to be thoroughly Reformed and biblical, and therefore, a prayer that is edifying and fit to be used ourselves.

And this is the prayer (slightly edited with paragraphs):

O gracious and merciful God and Father, we thank Thee that Thou hast established Thy covenant with believers and their seed. This Thou hast not only sealed by holy baptism, but Thou daily showest it by perfecting Thy praise out of the moth of babes and sucklings, thus putting to shame the wise and prudent of this world.
We beseech Thee that Thou wilt increase Thy grace in them, in order that they may unceasingly grow in Christ, Thy Son, until they have reached complete maturity in all wisdom and righteousness. Give us grace to instruct them in Thy knowledge and fear, according to Thy commandment.
May by their godliness the kingdom of Satan be destroyed and the kingdom of Jesus Christ in this and other congregations strengthened, unto the glory of Thy holy Name and unto their eternal salvation, through Jesus Christ, Thy Son and our Lord, who taught us to pray, saying,
Our Father who art in heaven, etc. Amen.

Posted yesterday on the PRC Seminary’s new website blog.

A New Year’s Resolution from M. Henry (plus Commitment to and Plans for Reading God’s Word)

New Year’s Day has traditionally been a time to make resolutions, by which one resolves (determines and promises) to do certain things in the new year that is before one. And while the people of the world make theirs today too, Christians are able to make genuine and meaningful resolutions. And there is a proper place for them in our lives, as long as we make them biblically and from the heart. (I may mention here that Burk Parsons has a fine article on this that was published yesterday on Ligonier’s website – “New Year’s Resolutions for God’s Glory, Not Our Own.”)

Today’s “Grace Gem” devotional contains the brief but beneficial resolution of Puritan pastor and commentator Matthew Henry, which may serve as a model for us. Based on Psalm 31:15, “My times are in thy hand,” it reads as follows:

Firmly believing that my times are in God’s hand, I here submit myself and all my affairs for the ensuing year, to the wise and gracious disposal of God’s divine providence. Whether God appoints for me . . . .
health or sickness,
peace or trouble,
comforts or crosses,
life or death–
may His holy will be done!
All my time, strength, and service, I devote to the honor of the Lord Jesus–and even my common actions. It is my earnest expectation, hope, and desire, my constant aim and endeavor–that Jesus Christ may be magnified in me.

In everything I have to do–my entire dependence is upon Jesus Christ for strength. And whatever I do in word or deed, I desire to do all in His name, to make Him my Alpha and Omega. I have all from Him–and I would use all for Him.

If this should prove a year of affliction, a sorrowful year to me–I will fetch all my supports and comforts from the Lord Jesus and stay myself upon Him, His everlasting consolations, and the good hope I have in Him through grace.

And if it should be my dying year–then my times are in the hand of the Lord Jesus. And with a humble reliance upon His mediation, I would venture into the eternal world looking for the blessed hope. Dying as well as living–Jesus Christ will, I trust, be gain and advantage to me.

Oh, that the grace of God may be sufficient for me, to keep me always a humble sense of my own unworthiness, weakness, folly, and infirmity–together with a humble dependence upon the Lord Jesus Christ for both righteousness and strength.

The devotional closes with some other profitable items, which I include here:

“Remember that your life is short, your duties are many, your assistance is great, and your reward is sure. Therefore faint not, persevere in ways of holiness–and Heaven shall make amends for all!” Thomas Brooks

~  ~  ~  ~

You may want to read J.R. Miller’s insightful one page article, “A New Year“.

~  ~  ~  ~

On this New Year’s day, you might want to ponder and seriously consider The RESOLUTIONS of Jonathan Edwards.

One thing we can and ought to commit to in 2019 is diligent reading of God’s Word. There are many good devotional plans, including in the daily devotions found online on the PRC website.

Ligonier always publishes one this time of year; you may find that here. And Crossway has a useful devotional plan to start the year that makes use of Paul Tripp’s fine book New Morning Mercies; you may find that here, as well as information on other reading plans.

And, while you are there (Crossway’s site), you might consider reading Donald Whitney’s article “Ten Questions to Ask at the Start of a New Year.” Need some motivation? Here you go:

Consider the Direction of Your Life

Once, when the people of God had become careless in their relationship with him, the Lord rebuked them through the prophet Haggai. “Consider your ways!” (Haggai 1:5) he declared, urging them to reflect on some of the things happening to them, and to evaluate their slipshod spirituality in light of what God had told them.

Even those most faithful to God occasionally need to pause and think about the direction of their lives. It’s so easy to bump along from one busy week to another without ever stopping to ponder where we’re going and where we should be going.

The beginning of a new year is an ideal time to stop, look up, and get our bearings. To that end, here are some questions to ask prayerfully in the presence of God.

Top Ten Books of 2018 – Kevin DeYoung

It is that wonderful time of year when the “best-books-of-the-year” lists are published. I have received notice of several already and will begin to reference them in the next two weeks.

These lists can be helpful in knowing what to read and/or to add to your personal or family library, especially, of course, those lists compiled by fellow Christians (including the Reformed ones). I also find them useful in learning what I may have missed for the PRC seminary library.

Pastor (now PCA) and author Kevin DeYoung published his “top ten books of 2018” on The Gospel Coalition website recently (Dec.14 – cf. link below). I will give you part of his introduction, which includes his criteria for choosing the titles he did. After that part of his introduction, I will post a part of his list; you may find the full list at the link below.

This list is not meant to assess the thousands of Christian books published each year, let alone every interesting book published in 2018. There are plenty of worthy titles that I am not able to read (and lots I never hear of). This is simply a list of the books (Christian and non-Christian, but all non-fiction) that I thought were the best in the past year.

When I say “best” I have several questions in mind:

• Was this book well written and enjoyable to read?
• Did I find it personally challenging, illuminating, edifying, or entertaining?
• Is it a book I am likely to reread or consult again?
• Do I see myself recommending this book to others?

Undoubtedly, the “best” books reflect my interests. This doesn’t mean I agree with every point in these books, but it does mean I found them helpful and insightful.

And now the top four of DeYoung’s “top ten.”

4. Alex Hutchinson, Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance (William Morrow). With Breaking2—the 2017 Nike-led project to run a sub-two hour marathon—as his backdrop, Hutchinson (a runner, columnist, researcher, and Cambridge PhD) explores the limits of athletic achievement and human endurance. This isn’t a training volume with secrets for getting a PR in your next race. Instead, it’s a journalistic examination of the different theories, studies, stories, and scholars trying to answer the simple question: what makes people keep going and what makes them stop? To that end, Hutchinson has chapters on muscles, heat, oxygen, thirst, fuel, and belief. His conclusion? We don’t finally know what makes people push through pain, but there is at least as much brain and belief involved as body and brawn.

 

3. D. Bruce Hindmarsh. The Spirit of Early Evangelicalism: True Religion in a Modern World (Oxford). In this important new work on evangelical devotion, Hindmarsh, a top flight historian and professor at Regent College, focuses on Edwards, Whitefield, and the Wesleys, but goes far beyond them in his analysis. Without discounting doctrinal continuity with the past, Hindmarsh argues that evangelical devotional ideas and practices were innovative, rooted in antecedent spiritual traditions, but new in their language and eclecticism.

 

2. Lewis Allen. The Preacher’s Catechism (Crossway). I’m always thankful for books that simultaneously convict and encourage. Using the Westminster Shorter Catechism as his inspiration and (loose) guide, Allen goes through 43 questions and answers designed to remind the busy/distracted/discouraged/puffed-up/cast-down preacher what really matters (and what doesn’t) in a life of faithful ministry. A Puritan throwback.

 

 

1. Jonathan Gibson and Mark Earngey (eds). Reformation Worship: Liturgies from the Past for the Present (New Growth Press). My top book from 2018 is likely to be the least purchased and least read of all the books on this list. And at nearly 700 pages, it’s also the biggest of the books here. But that’s part of what makes the book so valuable. Few people will read straight through, cover to cover, a collection of Reformation-era liturgies (I didn’t). But the sheer size of this volume tells us something important. Namely, the Reformers thought a lot about worship. It was essential to their Reformation project, which makes our relative indifference to the forms and flow of worship all the more surprising (and scandalous). Every Reformed pastor and worship leader with a book budget should have this on their shelves.

Source: Top Ten Books of 2018

Expository Listening – Introduction

As a representative of the King of kings, preachers have been given the responsibility and authority to boldly herald forth what God has said in His Word. But the hearers have a responsibility too, one that’s equally pressing: They must engage themselves as wholehearted, blood-earnest listeners who respond to the call of God on all mankind; ‘Listen, O heavens, and hear, O earth; for the LORD speaks’ (Isa.1:2).

In the pages ahead, we will explore God’s call to listen. …After all, if you are like most Christians, you listen to at least one or two sermons a week. Let’s say you came to Christ at age ten [the author does not share our Reformed covenantal perspective, but his point is still valid] and you live to be seventy-five. If you average two sermons a week, you will listen to over seven thousand sermons during the course of your life. And at the end of your life you will stand before God and give an account for every sermon you heard. On that day, God will essentially ask you, ‘How was your life changed as a result of the thousands of times you have heard My Word preached?’ So we see that it is vital that you are ever welcoming the Word of God and diligently seeking to put what you hear into practice, thus proving ‘yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves’ (James 1:22). [NASB]

At the beginning of this introductory chapter the author referenced the Thessalonian Christians who had this testimony of the apostle Paul concerning how they listened to the preaching he brought them: “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.” (I Thess.2:13) He returns to this at the end of this chapter:

The Thessalonians understood this supernatural dynamic [the “dynamic duo of faithful herald and fervent listeners”] and it caused them to have a great appreciation and affection for the preached Word. They loved to listen to Paul preach. They could be truly described as preaching enthusiasts, preaching fanatics even. Augustine urged his congregation to attend preaching with ‘burning thirst and fervent hearts.’

…My desire within these pages is to create congregations that share this passion to honor God by being discerning hearers of His Word, diligent doers of His Word, and devoted lovers of His Word, preaching fanatics even, who come to church like a thirsty man craving something to drink and whose hearts fervently long to hear the Word preached because they know that in it God speaks to them.

expository-listening-ramey-2010Taken from Expository Listening: A Handbook for Hearing and Doing God’s Word by Ken Ramey (Kress Biblical Resources, 2010), the “Introduction: Welcoming the Word.” In the months ahead I plan to draw on some of the author’s good thoughts concerning our calling to listen believingly to God’s Word proclaimed.

This section begins with these words from the Puritan Thomas Watson: “When we come to the Word preached, we come to a matter of the highest importance, therefore we should stir up ourselves and hear with the greatest devotion.”