Session Five: Gospel-Centered Preaching (Preaching to both Christians and Non-Christians) [Harvey Turner]

Harvey Turner book2[These are Session 5 notes (Session 2 of Day 2) from the Preach The Word 2013 Acts 29 West Regional Conference in Reno, NV]



Spurgeon’s grandfather on C.H. Spurgeon: “He can preach the gospel better than me, but he can’t preach a better gospel”

2 Tim 4:1-5 (main focus: “do the work of an evangelist”)

“Anyone new to reformed theology goes through the ‘cage phase’ (Spurgeon)… You should be locked in a cage for a year before you’re allowed to be let out”

The origin of Living Stones Church was taking the Word of God and sound doctrine, and bringing it to those far from Jesus.

We want to preach sound doctrine, and do it in such a way that as many people as possible meet Jesus.

This verse is an exhortation to Timothy as to how he is to lead the church in the public assembly (particularly, having an evangelistic focus)

V1 – Paul understands the weight if this message and responsibility

V1b – this is a reason we need to do evangelism.

Because Christ came, and is coming again.. I have something to say: PREACH (and not just preach..) preach THE WORD

In season, out of season (all the things covered in the last session with Tony Merida) … With the work of an evangelist

V5 – “fulfill your ministry” – its possible to do a lot of ministry and not fulfill your ministry. 

We’re here for a lost world to meet the Savior. We aren’t here to play church, make money, or build a building.

“I didn’t become a Christian because I wanted to be a good person”

“But then I met Jesus, and I couldn’t get enough”

“Growing up, everything I heard was about morals and behavior. I never remember hearing about Jesus”

“How come I came to youth group and we played games and never talked about Jesus??!”

“The interesting thing is that in evangelism, most people enjoy Jesus, they’re bothered with our presentation of Him.”

Jesus promises to be WITH US in that mission (Matt 28)

The Spirit of God loves to magnify Jesus

A sprit-filled church is a church that loves to lift up Jesus.

For the disciples, it wasn’t about evangelizing themselves and no others. They instinctively knew that “make disciples” meant those that are not currently disciples.

For Peter “feed my sheep” meant going to people who were not Jesus’ sheep, making them sheep, and then feeding them.

We are here to call his sheep.

For some people, a church planting strategy means taking a bunch of people from existing churches.

“If your church plant is not fueled by evangelism, your church plant will be a cul de sac of bitter churched people who do little more than bicker about their old church”

“We need to cater our ministry to the people not presently in our ministry” 

What was their evangelistic strategy in the book of acts? “Hey! You know about Jesus?? All those miracles? Yeah He’s alive” 

Cf Titus 1:1-3 – for the sake of the faith of God’s elect (not just the people who are here!!)

Paul’s mentality: “there are those elect that are out there that aren’t here yet.”

“Whether you’re Calvinist or Arminian the objective is the same: get the people out there in here to hear about Him!”

2 Tim 2:10 (talking about those who don’t currently have salvation) he does EVERYTHING with that lens in mind.

We must do everything we do KNOWING there are lost people around us; knowing that we need to invite them in to hear about Jesus.

Every sermon Jesus gave He gave to both groups.

Evangelism and discipleship go hand in hand, not in opposition with each other.

It you are discipling people, evangelism is NECESSARY

“We’re just going deep” –> have you read the Bible?!

“If you’re really discipling people, your people will want to disciple people”

If you’re going to REALLY take people deep you will be raising up an army of evangelists.

(“I didn’t come to call the righteous, but those who do not know me.”)

The call to discipleship is a call to be a fisher of men.

There are tons of churches that are doing a ton of ministry and not fulfilling their ministry

“You know who the best evangelists in your church are? The people who got saved in the last 3 weeks. They haven’t been numbed by our church world”

The chief end of all things is the glory of God.

You know what glorifies God? When sinners meet Jesus.

If we really want to glorify God we must spread Him to where He isn’t already

To fulfill your ministry you must “do the work”

Do the work of evangelism like it depends on you, and pray like it depends on God.

Paul (“the first reformer”) went everywhere preaching to lost people, cause riots, get beaten and thrown out of cities, wake up a couple hrs later and go back in saying “I think there are more elect in there!”

Pastors: this must come from your personal evangelism. (Must have lost people that don’t know Jesus, know how they think, what they say, etc.)

If you don’t have friends that don’t know Jesus, you won’t know how to talk about Jesus in front of them

So how does this start?

Your neighborhood (be a good neighbor. KNOW your neighbors!)

“There are people in my life who come to me with issues and struggles in their lives, look to me as a their pastor of sorts, because they know I can offer them something and they just can’t put their finger on it”

-We must know them if you want to reach then.

We (as a church) have built relationships with the surrounding area (they may not believe in our message but they’re glad we’re here)

•”You don’t invite the lost to an evangelical sub culture, you invite them to Jesus”•

Teach your church in such a way that non believers among you listen in (1 Cor 14) – preach in such a way this could happen!

Keller – talk to non Christians even if they aren’t there (your christians will invite their non Christian friends because they know if they invite them, you’ll talk to them)

You’re also modeling to your church how to do evangelism.

“I want to preach in such a way that I believe that someone is going to get saved (and believe God will do it!)”

God wants to save people more than you do! (Sent Jesus to earth; sent Him to a cross; raised his son and sent the church into the world in the Holy Spirit to reach the lost)

Not seeing the fruit?

Keep at it. (Be mindful of your insider language [church specific lingo; ‘the city’] and theological language)

You can’t just say “in Greek it says this…” (Preface about how it was written in Greek, etc.)

We need to be mindful of our audience and preach/teach as though they are present.

•”When you preach you have to say less and prove more” (Justin Anderson)•

Every one of us is an unbeliever in some part of our lives.

In preaching, PREACH IT.

–A skeptic should be able to say “I don’t believe that, but I know that He believes that”

Leaders, preachers: you are the lead theologian and evangelist for your church

•Everything you do must accommodate (not alienate) the non Christians.

We want to present everything in such a way that Jesus is the only stumbling block they experience –> All too often the church culture is the stumbling block.

“Whatever is celebrating is repeated” (baptism -> invites baptism/lost getting found)

•Do the work “of an evangelist”

The Gospel has to be the center of every sermon.

The Holy Spirit wants to magnify Jesus and if you magnify Jesus there will be people that meet Jesus.

“If I am lifted up, I will draw men to myself”

Our job is to lift up His lifting up (cross)

To be an evangelist you must preach the evangel. 

We do not call them to behavior modification (law) but to Jesus (Gospel).

A good pastor will evangelize the unsaved and the saved in the sermon. (People grow in grace when they hear grace; grow in the Gospel when they hear the Gospel)

(Cf listening to Billy Graham to remember what it’s like to be saved)

If you’re bored with the Gospel you’re missing something!

–Every sermon should have Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter in it (incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection)

  Maybe one reason our churches swell with numbers those days is because those are the only days we actually preach Jesus.

2 Tim 2:8 – remember Jesus Christ!

“Jesus Christ is the point and your sermons don’t have a point if The Point ain’t the point.”

Every piece of the Bible is in the context of a larger story (Jesus)

Your job, pastor, is to walk Jesus’ bride down the aisle

Not to a principle

Not to an application

Your job is to get them to Jesus (the groom), and when you get to Jesus there will be application.

•Application will be spirit-empowered when it is Jesus-centered

If you give then a bunch of law it will only last until Monday afternoon.

“Don’t you know, young man, that from every town, and every village, and every little hamlet in England, wherever it may be, there is a road to London?”

“Yes,” said the young man.

“Ah!” said the old preacher, “and so from every text in Scripture there is a road to the metropolis of the Scriptures, that is Christ. And, my dear brother, your business is, when you get to a text, to say, ‘Now, what is the road to Christ?’ and then preach a sermon, running along the road towards the great metropolis – Christ. And,” he said, “I have never yet found a text that had no such road, I will make a road, I would go over hedge and ditch but I would get at my master, for a sermon is neither fit for the land nor yet for the dunghill, unless there is a savour of Christ in it.” ~ C.H. Spurgeon

(Sometimes there’s a highway to Jesus–it’s direct; other times it has to be more thoughtful and weaved out)

It’s not disconnecting the text then talking about Jesus. They’re connected

The Gospel that is saving you at this moment can save ANYONE at ANY moment

You have to truly believe that the Spirit will save when you preach the Gospel.

Don’t just talk ABOUT Jesus, bring your people TO Jesus. (Not the concepts but the person)

The only way I know to do that is to be with him yourself and to pray (“how do you want to talk to your people this week?”)

-When you’ve been in the presence of Jesus you bring your people into the presence of Jesus

Your people don’t need a great speaker, they need someone who has been with Jesus.

–Jesus as the Greatest Evangelist (left heaven, suffered, called people to Him, accomplished a way)

-He lived with us, among us, for us.

-Preached to us

-Lifted up on the cross for us as an evangelist (had his arms out saying ‘come to me’)

–The Father is so committed to evangelism that He raised Jesus from the dead

–The Holy Spirit is so committed to evangelism that He regenerates the hearts of men.

When Jesus comes back He is coming back to “receive the reward of His suffering.”

When He returns He will gather His people to Himself as an evangelist.


I Will in No Wise Cast Out

“Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.”—John 6:37.

No limit is set to the duration of this promise. It does not merely say, “I will not cast out a sinner at his first coming,” but, “I will in no wise cast out.” The original reads, “I will not, not cast out,” or “I will never, never cast out.” The text means, that Christ will not at first reject a believer; and that as He will not do it at first, so He will not to the last.

But suppose the believer sins after coming? “If any man sin we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”

But suppose that believers backslide? “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for Mine anger is turned away from him.”

But believers may fall under temptation! “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

But the believer may fall into sin as David did! Yes, but He will “Purge them with hyssop, and they shall be clean; He will wash them and they shall be whiter than snow”; “From all their iniquities will I cleanse them.”

“Once in Christ, in Christ for ever,
Nothing from His love can sever.”
“I give unto My sheep,” says He, “eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand.” What say you to this, O trembling feeble mind? Is not this a precious mercy, that coming to Christ, you do not come to One who will treat you well for a little while, and then send you about your business, but He will receive you and make you His bride, and you shalt be His for ever? Receive no longer the spirit of bondage again to fear, but the spirit of adoption whereby you shall cry, Abba, Father! Oh! the grace of these words: “I will in no wise cast out.”

~ C.H. Spurgeon (from Morning and Evening, a daily devotional; formatting mine; also some minor language updating)

He Went About Doing Good

“Who went about doing good.”—Acts 10:38.

Few words, but yet an exquisite miniature of the Lord Jesus Christ. There are not many touches, but they are the strokes of a master’s pencil. Of the Saviour and only of the Saviour is it true in the fullest, broadest, and most unqualified sense. “He went about doing good.” From this description it is evident that He did good personally. The evangelists constantly tell us that He touched the leper with His own finger, that He anointed the eyes of the blind, and that in cases where He was asked to speak the word only at a distance, He did not usually comply, but went Himself to the sick bed, and there personally wrought the cure. A lesson to us, if we would do good, to do it ourselves. Give alms with your own hand; a kind look, or word, will enhance the value of the gift. Speak to a friend about his soul; your loving appeal will have more influence than a whole library of tracts.

Our Lord’s mode of doing good sets forth His incessant activity! He did not only the good which came close to hand, but He “went about” on His errands of mercy. Throughout the whole land of Judea there was scarcely a village or a hamlet which was not gladdened by the sight of Him. How this reproves the creeping, loitering manner, in which many professors serve the Lord. Let us gird up the loins of our mind, and be not weary in well doing.

Does not the text imply that Jesus Christ went out of His way to do good? “He went about doing good.” He was never deterred by danger or difficulty. He sought out the objects of His gracious intentions. So must we. If old plans will not answer, we must try new ones, for fresh experiments sometimes achieve more than regular methods. Christ’s perseverance, and the unity of His purpose, are also hinted at, and the practical application of the subject may be summed up in the words, “He hath left us an example that we should follow in His steps.”

~ C.H. Spurgeon (from Morning and Evening, a daily devotional; paragraphing added)

Why Do I Continue in Mourning?

“Why go I mourning?”—Psalm 42:9.

Can you answer this, believer? Can you find any reason why you are so often mourning instead of rejoicing? Why yield to gloomy anticipations? Who told you that the night would never end in day? Who told you that the sea of circumstances would ebb out till there should be nothing left but long leagues of the mud of horrible poverty? Who told you that the winter of your discontent would proceed from frost to frost, from snow, and ice, and hail, to deeper snow, and yet more heavy tempest of despair? Do you not know that day follows night, that flood comes after ebb, that spring and summer succeed winter? Have hope then! Ever have hope! For God fails you not. Do you not know that your God loves you in the midst of all this? Mountains, when in darkness hidden, are as real as in day, and God’s love is as true to you now as it was in your brightest moments.

No father chastens always: your Lord hates the rod as much as you do; He only cares to use it for that reason which should make you willing to receive it, namely, that it works for your lasting good. You shall yet climb Jacob’s ladder with the angels, and behold Him who sits at the top of it—your covenant God. You shall yet, amidst the splendors of eternity, forget the trials of time, or only remember them to bless the God who led you through them, and wrought your lasting good by them.

Come, sing in the midst of tribulation. Rejoice even while passing through the furnace. Make the wilderness to blossom like the rose! Cause the desert to ring with your exulting joys, for these light afflictions will soon be over, and then “for ever with the Lord,” your bliss shall never wane.

“Faint not nor fear, His arms are near,
He changeth not, and thou art dear;
Only believe and thou shalt see,
That Christ is all in all to thee.”

~ C.H. Spurgeon (from Morning and Evening, a daily devotional; words adapted for contemporary language)

Help, Lord

“Help, Lord.”—Psalm 12:1.

The prayer itself is remarkable, for it is short, but seasonable, sententious, and suggestive. David mourned the fewness of faithful men, and therefore lifted up his heart in supplication—when the creature failed, he flew to the Creator. He evidently felt his own weakness, or he would not have cried for help; but at the same time he intended honestly to exert himself for the cause of truth, for the word “help” is inapplicable where we ourselves do nothing. There is much of directness, clearness of perception, and distinctness of utterance in this petition of two words; much more, indeed, than in the long rambling outpourings of certain professors. The Psalmist runs straight-forward to his God, with a well-considered prayer; he knows what he is seeking, and where to seek it. Lord, teach us to pray in the same blessed manner.

The occasions for the use of this prayer are frequent. In providential afflictions how suitable it is for tried believers who find all helpers failing them. Students, in doctrinal difficulties, may often obtain aid by lifting up this cry of “Help, Lord,” to the Holy Spirit, the great Teacher. Spiritual warriors in inward conflicts may send to the throne for reinforcements, and this will be a model for their request. Workers in heavenly labour may thus obtain grace in time of need. Seeking sinners, in doubts and alarms, may offer up the same weighty supplication; in fact, in all these cases, times, and places, this will serve the turn of needy souls. “Help, Lord,” will suit us living and dying, suffering or labouring, rejoicing or sorrowing. In Him our help is found, let us not be slack to cry to Him.

The answer to the prayer is certain, if it be sincerely offered through Jesus. The Lord’s character assures us that He will not leave His people; His relationship as Father and Husband guarantee us His aid; His gift of Jesus is a pledge of every good thing; and His sure promise stands, “Fear not, I WILL HELP THEE.”

~ C.H. Spurgeon (From Morning and Evening, a daily devotional)

The Fire Shall Be Ever Burning

“The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out.”

Keep the altar of private prayer burning. This is the very life of all piety. The sanctuary and family altars borrow their fires here, therefore let this burn well. Secret devotion is the very essence, evidence, and barometer, of vital and experimental religion.

Burn here the fat of your sacrifices. Let your closet seasons be, if possible, regular, frequent, and undisturbed. Effectual prayer availeth much. Have you nothing to pray for? Let us suggest the Church, the ministry, your own soul, your children, your relations, your neighbors, your country, and the cause of God and truth throughout the world. Let us examine ourselves on this important matter.

Do we engage with lukewarmness in private devotion? Is the fire of devotion burning dimly in our hearts? Do the chariot wheels drag heavily? If so, let us be alarmed at this sign of decay. Let us go with weeping, and ask for the Spirit of grace and of supplications. Let us set apart special seasons for extraordinary prayer. For if this fire should be smothered beneath the ashes of a worldly conformity, it will dim the fire on the family altar, and lessen our influence both in the Church and in the world.

The text will also apply to the altar of the heart. This is a golden altar indeed. God loves to see the hearts of His people glowing towards Himself. Let us give to God our hearts, all blazing with love, and seek His grace, that the fire may never be quenched; for it will not burn if the Lord does not keep it burning. Many foes will attempt to extinguish it; but if the unseen hand behind the wall pour thereon the sacred oil, it will blaze higher and higher.

Let us use texts of Scripture as fuel for our heart’s fire, they are live coals; let us attend sermons, but above all, let us be much alone with Jesus.

~C.H. Spurgeon (From Morning and Evening, a daily devotional; 7/15).

Trials That Establish and Root Us

“After that ye have suffered awhile, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”—1 Peter 5:10.

You have seen the arch of heaven as it spans the plain: glorious are its colours, and rare its hues. It is beautiful, but, alas, it passes away, and lo, it is not. The fair colours give way to the fleecy clouds, and the sky is no longer brilliant with the tints of heaven. It is not established. How can it be? A glorious show made up of transitory sun-beams and passing rain-drops, how can it abide?

The graces of the Christian character must not resemble the rainbow in its transitory beauty, but, on the contrary, must be stablished, settled, abiding. Seek, O believer, that every good thing you have may be an abiding thing. May your character not be a writing upon the sand, but an inscription upon the rock! May your faith be no “baseless fabric of a vision,” but may it be builded of material able to endure that awful fire which shall consume the wood, hay, and stubble of the hypocrite. May you be rooted and grounded in love. May your convictions be deep, your love real, your desires earnest. May your whole life be so settled and established, that all the blasts of hell, and all the storms of earth shall never be able to remove you.

But notice how this blessing of being “stablished in the faith” is gained. The apostle’s words point us to suffering as the means employed—“After that ye have suffered awhile.” It is of no use to hope that we shall be well rooted if no rough winds pass over us. Those old gnarlings on the root of the oak tree, and those strange twistings of the branches, all tell of the many storms that have swept over it, and they are also indicators of the depth into which the roots have forced their way. So the Christian is made strong, and firmly rooted by all the trials and storms of life. Shrink not then from the tempestuous winds of trial, but take comfort, believing that by their rough discipline God is fulfilling this benediction to you.

~ C.H. Spurgeon (from his devotional Morning and Evening; formatting mine)