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The core value of preaching that changes lives is that it’s biblical. You and I don’t change lives. God changes lives. For two thousand years, he has used the power of this Word to convict stubborn hearts of sin, to move cold spirits to repentance, and to lift faltering lives to hope.

The question that causes a fair amount of controversy is: What makes preaching biblical?

It’s Not About Form

Often people think what makes preaching biblical is a particular style or structure. Where I grew up, people talked about three categories for preaching: topical, often regarded as not very biblical; textual, where the main point comes from a Scripture verse, which was considered more biblical; and expository, which is difficult to get a clear definition of. Expository is a word that gets thrown around a lot. Some people think of it as verse-by-verse preaching, or where points and subpoints are from one text in Scripture.

There are a number of problems with thinking one particular style or structure of preaching is the only kind that’s biblical. One problem is that Jesus didn’t do that kind of expository preaching. Mostly he told stories and the implications for listeners’ lives. The apostles didn’t do that kind of expository preaching. In the New Testament you don’t see any sermon that goes verse by verse through an Old Testament text. I’m not saying that kind of preaching is a bad thing. It’s important that people become biblically literate. But what makes preaching biblical is not its structure. To be biblical does not mean the preacher follows a particular form that, after all, human beings created.

It’s About Relevance, Application, and Enablement

William D. Thompson, author of Preaching Biblically, writes, “Biblical preaching is when listeners are enabled to see how their world, like the biblical world, is addressed by the Word of God.” It is important not to be superficial when it comes to what makes preaching biblical. How many Bible verses a sermon has does not determine whether or not it’s biblical. You can have a hundred verses in a sermon and misinterpret every one of them. It is not the structure. Biblical preaching occurs when people listen, are able to hear that God is addressing them as God addressed the world of the Scriptures, and are enabled to respond.

Far too many sermons have lots of information about the Bible but are not really biblical preaching because they do not call and enable people to respond to the Word. There is lots of information about the Bible—exegetical, historical, or theological—with maybe a few applications tacked on the end.

It’s About Working the Soap of the Word Deeply Through the Stained Fibers of Hearers' Hearts

What happens when the Word addresses people? In Ephesians 5:25–26, Paul has a wonderful metaphor. He says, “Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the Word.” The church is to be made holy by being cleansed with the washing of the Word. Why do you wash something? Because it’s dirty. What happens when you wash something? Soap and water move through the fibers and lift out impurities from the fabric.

When we and our congregations come before God, our hearts are like that. They are cluttered with false beliefs and attitudes, misguided intentions, and wrong perceptions.

I could tell you what a few of mine are. I’m walking down the street. Somebody wants money. I find myself looking away from him because I don’t even want to be reminded of that need, and I don’t want to feel guilty by not giving him something. Or I’m at a convenience store in a line of people, and the person behind the counter doesn’t speak English well, and my reflexive thoughts are, I’m in a hurry. Why can’t they get somebody who speaks English well around here? Or another time I’m in church standing next to somebody who’s important and the thoughts that run through my mind are, This is an important person. I wonder what I might be able to say to make a connection because he or she is important.

Those are just a few thoughts in my mind that are dirty. They equip me for bad works. They make bad feelings and behaviors almost inevitable. Imagine having a mind cleansed of all that. Imagine when you’re with somebody, your first thought is to pray for them and bless them. Imagine that if you’re challenged, your first thought is to look to God for strength.

That’s what it would be like to have a mind washed by the Word, and that’s your goal for the people to whom you speak. That’s the goal of biblical preaching. The goal is not to get vast amounts of exegetical information into people. My goal is not to get people all the way through the Bible. My goal is to get the Bible all the way through people.

Biblical preaching answers three questions: What must hearers know, feel, and do? To do that I ask three questions. What do I want people to know? What do I want people to feel? What do I want people to do? I think about these questions for every message I preach because if I don’t address the mind and heart and will—if I can’t answer those questions—then I need not deliver this message because it’s not going to wash their minds in the Word.

Your goal is to wash the minds of your people in the Word so that Christ is formed in them. That’s biblical preaching.


 

Taken from Art and Craft of Biblical Preaching, The by CRAIG BRIAN LARSON; HADDON ROBINSON. Copyright © 2005 by Christianity Today International. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com

John Ortberg is teaching pastor of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church  in Menlo Park, California and author of several books, including The Life You've Always Wanted and The Me I Want to Be.

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Talk about it...

Tim Hbc

commented on Oct 26, 2011

Thank you, this is excellent. I am going to ask that this article is read by all those who preach alongside me here at church.

Keith B

commented on Oct 26, 2011

I see a lot of talk about "washing their minds in the word" and so on. Instead of telling them what to do...why not preach the Gospel? His illustrations were all about do...do...doing things. That's Law...that's not Gospel.

Rick Morris

commented on Oct 26, 2011

@k b - I understand your point but as I read the article it was a challenge to pastors, after all the site is sermon central. It is a challenge that we, as pastors, approach the scripture with authority, instruction to bring the hearer into an understanding of the Gospel, the good news. Doing is as much an important part of being. If we are not doing then we cannot "be". To say we are being then we must be doing. The two go hand in hand. As I read this article I found both brought out, as indicated at the beginning, "You and I don't change lives. God changes lives." So nothing we "do" will make a difference, so to speak. It must be sourced by God, inspired by God, and revealed to the listener by God. In reality preaching is doing, no matter what the form or message. If we are not doing preaching then we aren't doing anything at all.

Reverend Daniel Forster

commented on Oct 26, 2011

I thank you very much for this article. The greatest thing we can do in preaching is be led by His Holy Spirit, and not put ourselves on a pedestal. One thing you do when you write, and I am sure you do when you preach is you are not afraid to admit your own sins and weaknesses. God convicted me of this while reading your books, and it has changed the way I preach and the fruit that bears from it. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God?s glorious standard.- Romans 3:23 (NLT) God Bless you and thank you!

Donald Rapp

commented on Oct 26, 2011

I don't know why exegetical preaching/teaching is looked upon as some super intellectual approach to God's word that neglects the "true" purpose of preaching which is life change. This is the second article that has had a veiled criticism of those of us who teach this way. It is as if one who preaches the Bible with the intent of discovering and explaining what the text means and what the author intended for his readers to understand is some how not doing what he should be doing. Why not? Isn't there application in the writings of the NT and the OT? Don't we have the responsibility as Paul says of rightly interpreting the Word? Isn't the scripture itself designed to change people's lives? Should we preachers somehow have a "special" power to understand what people who listen to us need to hear? Frankly I find that a little disconcerting. If as Mr. Ortberg says "God changes lives" and God has given us His word shouldn't we expect that if we are endeavoring to explain God's word as accurately as we possibly can that that purpose will be met? I may know the people who come to my church well but I don't know every need that they have. However God does and He is fully capable of getting His point across to them. I have had people come to me after a service and tell me how God spoke to them through the message that morning and it didn't have anything to do with the points I was making. Does that mean that I failed to ?Work the Soap of the Word Deeply Through the Stained Fibers of Hearers' Hearts? Not at all it simply means that God is truly at work in that person?s life. I seek every week to make relevant application from the text of scripture we study. I am not there to enlighten people about the fine points of theology or the grammar unless it is relevant for understanding the text. I am there to help them understand what God is saying to us through the text and how that applies to our lives today. If you are looking for a good definition of what exegetical preaching/teaching is you need to look no further than the apostle Paul "Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching" 1 Ti 4:13. That sounds a lot like expository preaching to me.

Fernando Villegas

commented on Oct 26, 2011

Good article, overall. I'd like to push back on one point, however: form is not completely irrelevant to our preaching. I understand--and agree with--his fundamental point, which is that examples of contemporary forms we as preachers are familiar with (e.g. topical, textual, expository, etc.) are not, in fact, found in the Bible. Therefore, it is silly to elevate any one form (usually the form we prefer) as more "biblical" and dismiss all other forms as "worldly". The discussion of Rick Long's article from October 12 comes to mind! But we must keep in mind that God's Word is communicated in lots of different forms--parables and poetry, letters and laws, etc. So, rather than dismissing form altogether, I believer it is more useful to structure our sermons in the forms that are used by scripture itself. An expository form may be appropriate when preaching on the epistles. But it would be silly to take a parable or a Psalm, reduce it to a "Big Idea" with it's three or four supporting ideas from the text, and then preach it the same way you preach one of Paul's letters. Instead, what we as preachers should do is familiarize ourselves with all the different forms in which God's Word is revealed to us, and preach in those different forms appropriately. Sermons from Joshua, Ecclesiastes, Isaiah, Luke, Romans, and Revelation should not all sound the same!

Fernando Villegas

commented on Oct 26, 2011

Donald Rapp, your comments were posted while I was composing my own, but I would like to respond to some of the things you wrote. I also wrote a response for you earlier under Rick Long's article which you alluded to--I don't know if you ever read that response, but I encourage you to do so if you haven't. First, I'd like to say that I don't think anyone is criticizing those who preach expository sermons. You have to look at the larger context. Often (not all the time, obviously, but often enough so that it warrants saying) expository preachers such as MacArthur or Piper take the position that expository preaching is THE way to preach, this despite the fact that no one in the Bible preaches expository sermons! Worse, sometimes the position is also taken that any other form of preaching is somehow inferior. Both those positions are wrong. Now, if you don't hold either of those positions, then we are not speaking to you, so there is no need to take it as some sort of personal attack. Second, it is not enough simply to discern the author's original intent and explain the meaning to your congregation. As I argued in my first post, I believer we need to do it in the WAY that the Scripture itself does it. For example, if I'm preaching on Paul's letters, the sermon will consist of a lot of explanation, a lot of logic. But if I'm preaching on Psalm 23, I can't preach it like, "There are three ways in which the Lord is my shepherd: Point One...Point Two...Point Three..." What I need to do instead is present metaphors and images from my listeners' world that will have the same impact on them as the images and metaphors of Psalm 23 had on a people who lived in an agricultural society. So my sermon on Psalm 23 may not sound like the typical, contemporary expository sermon. But it will be more BIBLICAL than an expository sermon in that it is consistent not only with the MESSAGE of Psalm 23, but also with the FORM in which that message is communicated. I hope to hear your response.

Fernando Villegas

commented on Oct 26, 2011

k b, I'm not sure I quite follow what you're trying to say about Mr. Ortberg preaching Law instead of Gospel. Could you clarify your comments a bit?

Prescott Jay Erwin

commented on Oct 26, 2011

Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. (Ephesians 5:25-27)

Donald Rapp

commented on Oct 26, 2011

Fernando, I appreciate your comments very much. Maybe I am a little over sensitive on this subject so I apologize to you and to the authors. Perhaps if I explained myself better it will help you to understand where I am coming from. I have said on both of my posts that my personal approach is to discover the application of each passage I come to in scripture. The text determines what ?type? of sermon it will be. Sometimes it is topical, sometimes it is narrative etc. However, I do approach each passage first with the goal of discovering just what the author was intending to communicate to those who were going to read his text. It is my contention that this is the most important job of a teacher of the scripture. We must first make sure we understand the timeless truth that God is communicating to original readers which also applies to us. It then becomes my job to make that truth and the text relevant to the people I am speaking to. I guess the miss understanding comes in the delivery. Maybe a better word would be exegetical rather than expository. I as you use stories and antidotes to make the text understandable from our perspective today. If I failed to do that it would become just an exercise in academics. Having said that my issue is that many preachers today end up ignoring the original intent of the author and just ?fill in the blanks? with what they think is meeting the ?heart felt? needs of the listener. That is in my opinion a slippery slope down which guys like Rob Bell have slid. God gave us the bible for a purpose. The style of the sermon becomes simply a tool to effectively communicate the truth found in it. I don?t look down on any particular style rather my contention is with a shallow interpretation made in an attempt to meet some perceived need of the listener. I agree that we should all seek to encourage life change I just don't want to seek it at the expense of the text. I hope we aren?t getting too far off the topic of this post. Don

Fernando Villegas

commented on Oct 26, 2011

Don, thank you very much for clarifying things, and I think we are fundamentally in agreement. The text determines the type of sermon it will be, and the original meaning of the text determines the actual content of the sermon. Essentially, both the HOW and the WHAT of the sermon must be consistent with the text. I also agree with you that there are preachers out there who go straight to the application or meeting the felt need without having wrestled with the text first. This, also, is wrong; so your point is very well taken. I don't think that is what is being implied by people like Mr. Ortberg and Mr. Long. Still, the danger is there, so I appreciate you reminding us of that danger. We don't need to make the Bible relevant--it is the most relevant thing there is! What we need to do is demonstrate how everything else is irrelevant--including, sometimes, some of our "felt needs."

Donald Rapp

commented on Oct 26, 2011

Fernando, I am very happy to hear that. Have a great day. Maybe we can talk again. Don

R.l. Wilson

commented on Oct 27, 2011

I enjoy reading articles from the experienced pastors and ministers who submit on Sermon Central but the closing remarks in this article I just don't agree with. "What do I want people to know? What do I want people to feel? What do I want people to do? I think about these questions for every message I preach because if I don?t address the mind and heart and will, if I can?t answer those questions then I need not deliver this message because it?s not going to wash their minds in the Word." Since when does "I" have anything to do with preaching the Word of God? Correct me if I'm wrong here, but shouldn't we as preachers pray to the Lord to have His Holy Spirit reveal to us what He wants us to say to His people? It's not about what do we want people to know, feel and do, it's about what does God want for His people...Am I way off base here or did I misinterpret what the author was trying to convey to us in this article?

Fernando Villegas

commented on Oct 27, 2011

R. L. Wilson, I don't think it's a matter of you being off base, but rather I think you might be reading more into the closing remarks than Mr. Ortberg intended. Of course, it's about what God wants for his people; and I don't think Mr. Ortberg would argue otherwise. In fact, when you read the article as a whole, and if you are familiar with his preaching ministry on a broader level, I really don't see how you could interpret his closing remarks in the sense that you conveyed. Sometimes people--not necessarily you--get paranoid about the pronouns "I", "me", "mine", etc., as if using them automatically removed God from the picture. But we can't eliminate those pronouns; nor should we try to remove them, for on one level, they actually remind us of the importance of taking ownership of the messages we preach. We are not prophets, and we are certainly not infallible. It would be dangerous to preach a sermon which communicates the message, "This is the direct Word of God, no questions or doubts about it." As fallible human beings, what we preach is our best interpretation--guided by study, meditation, and the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit--of the Word of God. This does not take the focus away from God. Rather, it illustrates the fact that God's truth is never abstract. It is always revealed personally, relationally, concretely.

Prescott Jay Erwin

commented on Oct 27, 2011

I suppose what John's saying is, "If I don't know the point of the sermon, how can I deliver it?" That's a legitimate concern. Maybe it's not yet a sermon; maybe it's just a seed for a sermon.

Zachary Bartels

commented on Oct 28, 2011

NO!!!! Biblical preaching is NOT primarily about "life change" and application. This is the main problem in pulpits today! It's about proclaiming repentance and the forgiveness of sins in Jesus' name (the Gospel, Christ in all Scripture), not about "five steps to a better marriage" or all this nonense that you could get on Dr. Phil (which is Law, not Gospel, and which could still be perfectly acceptable "preaching" even if Christ hadn't died and risen again). Doesn't terribly surprise me coming from Ortberg, but pure FAIL.

Fernando Villegas

commented on Oct 28, 2011

Zachary Bartels, YES!!!!! Biblical preaching is absolutely about life change. What do you think repentance is?? It is about CHANGING my old, sinful life with the new life God has made available for me by the death and resurrection of Christ. And what's the point of having my sins forgiven if there is no CHANGE in my life, if I just keep doing the same sins over and over. I don't know why you are limiting "life change" to sermons on "five steps to a better marriage" or Dr. Phil, none of which Mr. Ortberg mentions, in fact. People, c'mon! This gets too ridiculous sometimes. We're all (presumably) professionals, here. The authors of each article take the time to define their terms, so let's stop reading in our own preconceived definitions and reacting against things that have nothing to do with actual substance of the articles!

Ron Hoffmann

commented on Oct 28, 2011

Good posts, (for the most part) guys. I can tell you as one who was trained in the same seminary, under the same prof's as John Ortberg, that he is in no way depreciating the text in which he is preaching/teaching. Carfeful exegetical disciplines were drilled into our thinking, so that the Word of God is primary and sufficient in instruction. However, and I think most of us realize this, you cannot take the results of our exegesis to the pulpit. And unless John has abandoned the basis of thorough hermeneutics we were trained in, his preaching is intended to not only inform, but to equip and change "believers" lives through asking those three simple questions at the end of his article. And this is NOT law or legalism either. The Gospel applies to us at all points of life, obviously. But we have to know how and when to present 'justification' truth and 'sanctification' truth to our varied audiences. So, the comment that 'every' sermon must be geared toward 'repentance and conversion' of sinners, misses the point of faithful pulpit ministry to the saints. I also want to give a "shout out" to Fernando Villegas, for your voice of balance in these posts.  Blessings, to you all brothers!

David Buffaloe

commented on Sep 12, 2012

Great points. Thanks!

Keith B

commented on Sep 12, 2012

No...it's not about life change. Preaching is about proclaiming the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Yes--there will be some life change as a result...but the focus is not just on making people behave differently. That's moralizing, or legalism. The Gospel is about Grace that changes lives as a result.

Doug Conley

commented on Sep 12, 2012

Whether we want to admit it or not, we have a part in our salvation. We need to respond to the word. But what is that response to be? Is it to be hearers and learners of the word? No. Jesus said that this is not enough; that we must also be doers of it. This is not law. This is obedience to The God that has offered salvation to all the world through his Son. And if we are love Him, we show that by our obedience. Jesus said so, himself! Is this law? Only if you believe that we're saved by works. Works though, is not what we're saved by but saved FOR. Calling obedience "Law" and is not what the Lord teaches! We obey because we love Him. But then we ask,"Obey what?" How do we answer that question for the congregation we serve, or the community in which we live? Is it by merely giving them knowledge of the Scripture? This is not a bad thing, but is it always sufficient? What if we see dissension in our mist? What if we know of factions, willful sin, complacency, immoralities, or any other circumstance that has the Lord's Church in conflict with His will? Are we not to address these things when the need arises? Perhaps we let them be until we get to the appropriate text and then they'll hear what the Lord has to tell them. We, as Christ, are to change lives. Not so this life will be better, but that the Life that follows will be in God's presence. Salvation is a two-headed coin which God wants us to carry in our pocket at all times. On one side is God's grace: undeserved forgiveness through His Son. On the other: our commitment to love, trust, and obey. The question should not be about how we teach. It should be about what we teach: What God did for me, and what can I do for God.

Mark Baker

commented on Sep 12, 2012

Life change is great, but what do we want our hearers to change into? Do we want people to "preach biblically" who have a low view of Scripture? I'd rather have no preaching than someone "preaching" from a low-view-of-God's-Word or from the mystical view or the emergent view or the trendy view. So, yes, please preach biblically (if we could agree on what that is) but don't compromise with the old and new heretical views of Scripture.

Brad Brucker

commented on Sep 12, 2012

I sat under John Ortbergs Teaching when he was at Willow Creek and I was doing my M-Div at Trinity in Chicago. John is as Biblical and real as you get! This is a great article! To pick it apart and read into it things John never intended is sad or isogesis. Makes me wonder what naysayers sermons are like. A little humility perhaps is needed when critiqing on of the preaching giants of our time. Ortberg is the Real Deal! If the Lord could use me in the pulpit a fraction of how he's used and continues to use John then I could count my preaching extremely successful!

David Nuhfer

commented on Sep 12, 2012

My thought is that the purpose of preaching is to proclaim the gospel so people's lives will be changed. After all, we are told to be "transformed by the renewing of our minds." If I think differently, I am going to act differently. Preaching is like music in church - there is no one "right" way to do it, as long as we are led by the Spirit and true to the Scriptures.

Keith B

commented on Sep 12, 2012

@Brad.....No, Brad--he isn't. He teaches contemplative prayer with an emphasis on mysticism. That's not Biblical.

Mark Baker

commented on Sep 12, 2012

@Brad, I appreciate your likely JO but I must say you sound a little (not a lot) like "touch not the Lord's annointed." If you want to clarify or defend him (or anyone else) that is fine. But to imply (perhaps you did not mean to) that we should not critique or disagree with him is not good. And, on another level, he is an avowed mystic! He promotes mystics and mysticism and those with a low view of Scripture. You or others may think that is fine, but it is no where in Scripture (except to condemn it).

Michael Stowell

commented on Sep 12, 2012

Thanks for the good advice! From a young (old) pastor.

David Nuhfer

commented on Sep 12, 2012

My thought is that the purpose of preaching is to proclaim the gospel so people's lives will be changed. After all, we are told to be "transformed by the renewing of our minds." If I think differently, I am going to act differently. Preaching is like music in church - there is no one "right" way to do it, as long as we are led by the Spirit and true to the Scriptures.

Mari Baca

commented on Sep 12, 2012

I would say that a pastor needs to ask God to lay it on his heart what needs to be preached. Scriptures need to be explained. I have seen profound results when my pastor would preach because he had the word to back up whatever he preached about. That is what is needed, God's word from the Bible. It is important to learn what not to do but also important to hear about the blessings that come with God's promises. I can give you an example of that. My pastor was reading from scripture and he said,''Jesus chose you. You did not choose him.'' It was right there in scripture but I talked to the pastor later and said,''Did Jesus really choose me?'' He said,''Yes Sister. He chose you.'' I was amazed that Jesus would choose me but it really impacted my life. I thought to myself that absolutely nothing could be better then that. To this day I am glad my pastor chose those verses. We all have faults and need to ask forgiveness and never forget we are children of God. The Holy Spirit will lay it on the pastors heart what to preach. I have given you and example of how the right sermon can have an impact.

Prescott Jay Erwin

commented on Sep 13, 2012

k.b. said, "No...it's not about life change. Preaching is about proclaiming the Gospel... Yes--there will be some life change as a result...but the focus is not just on making people behave differently. That's moralizing..." I'm sorry to say it this way, but this is incredibly ignorant, k.b., and betrays a profound biblical illiteracy. For instance, Paul wrote his letter to God's beloved as saints in Rome, saying that he was "eager to preach the gospel" to them (Rom 1:15). He wanted to preach the Gospel to the believers in Rome and he spent over 3 chapters telling them how they ought to be living. The letter to the saints at Ephesus concludes with three chapters telling the saints how they ought to be living. James is ALL about how believers ought to be living. What NT book DOESN'T? Give me a break.

Keith B

commented on Sep 13, 2012

@Prescott......I'm aware that the Bible gives all sorts of commands on HOW to live. In fact, I'm now preaching through James. My sermon last week on the end of chapter 1 was about how we are to live IN LIGHT OF the Gospel. We are not to be good for goodness' sake. Since Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness' sake (Rom 10:4), we are now to do these things out of gratitude. The Gospel is demonstrated by the fact that we now not only don't murder...but we look after the welfare of our neghbor. We not only don't sin...but we protect their belongings. But if you teach them to do those things just to be a good person, you are moralizing. Those things are a response to the Gospel. It's just a question of shifting the focus to Jesus--and the Gospel versus changing the person.

Prescott Jay Erwin

commented on Sep 13, 2012

k.b.: Brother Ortberg never implies that our preaching should be an effort to get folks to simply be good people, that it should be about being good for goodness sake, and he never suggests that we preach biblical morality apart from the Gospel, as anything other than a response to God's grace and mercy, or that our motivation and focus should be anyone or anything but Christ. And Ortberg is correct to say that our "goal is to wash the minds of [our] people in the Word so that Christ is formed in them. That's biblical preaching." In Ephesians 5:25-27 Paul reminded believers that "Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself up for Her, so that He might sanctify Her, having cleansed Her by the washing of water with the Word, that He might present to Himself the Church in all Her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that She would be holy and blameless." And he referred to the believers in Galatian as "My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you?" (Gal 4:19). And Paul urged the Romans to be "transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect" (Rom 12:2).

Keith B

commented on Sep 13, 2012

@Prescott.....I've never suggested that he did only preach a "do do do" message. But it's a question of focus. Is the focus on changing their lives? Or is it to proclaim the Gospel? Our job is not to be life coaches...our job is to be pastors--and proclaim God's word. As I said--along with that, lives will be changed...but it's side effect, not the main goal. ------ On a side note.....Ortberg is into contemplative spirituality and mysticism....I can't advocate that, and I would have problems with lifting him up as a solid Biblical preacher for that reason.

Prescott Jay Erwin

commented on Sep 13, 2012

k.b. -- I have a question for you about your response to Brad below. Jesus said, "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (Joh 17:3). Do you know the One True God? Do you know Jesus Christ, Whom He sent? In what way? Please explain.

Brad Brought

commented on Sep 13, 2012

Pastor Ortberg, I so enjoyed this article, Thank you.

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 13, 2012

@kb, this article has nothing to do with contemplative prayer or mysticism. Just because you have a problem with that one area of his teaching, doesn't mean he doesn't have anything of value to say on other areas! It seems to me that what you are doing is making the author say things he has never said, just to give you an excuse to disagree with him! Also, you claim that life-change is a side-effect, not the main goal. But it is not an AUTOMATIC side-effect. Proclaiming the gospel will not change lives if it is not accompanied by practical instruction, in a one-on-one or small group setting, where people are trained how to read, interpret, and apply the Bible for themselves. Having ONE person do everyone's thinking for them and tell them what the Bible says once a week will not change anyone's life. If pastors want to see people's lives changed by the preaching of the Gospel, they must be intentional about it.

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