December 18, 2017

Insight into Substantive Preaching (4)

Mark Minnick

In Part One of this series, Dr. Minnick introduces a substantive sermon by Benjamin Keach. We also gave you just a taste of the first couple of paragraphs of the sermon.

In Part Two of this series, we offered the full introduction to the sermon and the first major point.

In Part Three, we gave again the first two paragraphs of introduction as well as the second major point.

Dr. Minnick’s original article spanned two editions of FrontLine. His second installment included a new introduction and the final point, followed by an application section and Dr. Minnick’s analysis. We offer the final point with this post, the rest will follow in due course.

We’re continuing an analysis of a three-hundred- year-old sermon. Its preacher was Benjamin Keach, an influential 17th-century London Baptist. The message is from his volume A Golden Mine Opened: Or, The Glory of God’s Rich Grace Displayed in the Mediator to Believers (1694).

I apologize to any first-time readers of FrontLine who find yourselves introduced to this column by having to begin in the middle of a project begun last issue. But the issue at hand is an alarm being sounded, not by Fundamentalists only but by Evangelicals as well, about the downhill slide in contemporary preaching away from doctrinal substance toward an experience-centered, pragmatic pulpit. To repeat one quotation from the last column:

Much of what emanates from contemporary pulpits would not have been recognized [in the past] as being anywhere close to the kind of expository preaching that is Bible-based, Christ-focused, and life-changing—the kind of preaching that is marked by doctrinal clarity, a sense of gravity, and convincing argument. (Alistair Begg)

What then was the Bible-based, Christ-focused, life-changing preaching of the past? Keach’s example is from Hebrews 2:3, “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?” His central proposition is “Gospel Salvation is a Great and Glorious Salvation.” His proofs survey the “glory and greatness of the persons” who sat in counsel to work out this salvation. Last issue included his consideration of the greatness and glory of both the Father’s and the Son’s contribution. We pick up our reading now with the Spirit’s part in our salvation.

We’re noting the amount of doctrinal content, especially what is Christological. We’re also observing the elevated tone of the expressions, the Scriptures employed, and the judicious use of systematic theology to weave the sermon’s doctrinal fabric with the stout threads of those Bible texts.

In addition, in this part of the sermon Keach is going to make his applications (left to the end in typical Puritan fashion). Let’s see how compelling they are, how heart-moving. If compelling, what makes them so?

Here then is the continuation of Gospel Salvation Is a Great and Glorious Salvation.

The Spirit’s Part in This Great and Glorious Salvation

The third Person that is concerned in this salvation is the Holy Ghost. The Father chooses, the Son purchases, and the Spirit applies the blessings purchased. Salvation is called a garment. He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness (Is. 61:10).

The Father may be said to prepare the matter which this robe is made of. The Son wrought it, of Jesus Christ.

We were sick of a fearful and incurable disease. The Father found out the medicine. The blood of Christ is the medicine, and the Holy Spirit applies it to the soul.

We were in debt, in prison, and bound in fetters and cruel chains, and the Father procured a Friend to pay all our debts. The Son was this our Friend, who laid down the infinite sum. The Holy Spirit knocks off our irons, our fetters and chains, and brings us out of the prison house. The Father loved us and sent His Son to merit grace for us. The Son loved us and died and thereby purchased that grace to be imparted to us. The Holy Spirit works that grace in us.

O what is the nature of this salvation! How great, how glorious! That the whole Trinity, both the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost are thus employed in and about it, that we might have it made sure to us forever.

To be continued…

Dr. Mark Minnick is the pastor of Mount Calvary Baptist Church in Greenville, South Carolina, and serves as adjunct professor of preaching and exposition at Bob Jones Seminary.

(Originally published in FrontLine • March / April 2004. Click here to subscribe to the magazine.)

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