How do you develop life’s perspectives? In the mid seventies, eating breakfast with Charles Tremendous Jones, he said this: "You are today what you have been becoming. You will be the same in five years as you are today, except for the people you meet and the books you read." James Combs while at Hyles-Anderson College in class said, "The best way to learn is from those who have already learned them." While in Bible Baptist Seminary, Raymond Barber said, "The best way to learn is by the school of hard knocks." He also said upon asking him how he was able to preach a great sermon. "Charles, find a text and ask the Holy Spirit to give you a sermon."
I think I like James Combs’ advice the best.: "Learn from those who have gone before you and have learned already." And as a matter of fact, Charles "T" Jones is right and Raymond Barber is right, also.
Nonetheless, you do learn from those you give attention to. As a child I was a copy of my dad--what he did, his attitude toward others, how to do ministry, what he wore, how he acted --I tried. How he treated my mother is how I try to treat Charity. So far I haven’t had to change my views on marriage but about ten times. (That would be a post in itself) It’s like preaching, you could spin off on another subject other than the one you were on.
You know the old saying, "Watch out-- going to Bible College could almost ruin you." I set aside what I had learned from my dad and started absorbing what was taught in Bible College. I took notes in every class (BCWP i.e. before Corel WordPerfect) and typed on those old typewriters-- remember? I joined Dr. Wayne Martin’s church, and I took notes of every one of his sermons (still have them today). I could preach a rather good Wayne Martin sermon. Taking notes of sermons was my thing.
When the professors would say to buy these books, I did. I wanted to know what they knew and how they knew it. I wish today that I had had enough sense in those days to realize what was going to be necessary to become a good theologian and preacher and pastor. I was influenced by those who taught me, as it should be.
I had tried to become the kind of preacher and pastor as I had learned in Seminary. From 1969 to 1978 that was the model. Wayne Martin’s sermons and Earl K Oldham’s attitude, and Jerry Falwell’s church approach. Then I developed the Jack Hyles’ mentality from 1978-1983. By the way as a reference, I did learn a wealth of good doohickeys from all those who I had sat under. I have little regret-- the experience was part of God’s training for me. His grace is so magnificent.
Then we arrived at the Shepherd’s Conference in Sun Valley, California in 1983 and again in 1990. Ministry and the thirst for the knowledge of the Word of God changed forever. A whole new world of Bible opened up to me. I am still bathing in the wonderment, and amazing grace of God. I was in total shock for a week. I never heard such teaching as I heard in that conference.
As there are Jerry Falwell, haters, and Jack Hyles haters, I learned there are a lot of John MacArthur haters today. But in the last thirty years, having read most of MacArthur’s sermons, I am confortable with his points of view.
Now back to the delay at the Denver Airport in October 1983, reading Walter C. Kaiser, Jr ‘s. book "Toward An Exegetical Theology" Biblical Exegesis for Preaching and Teaching. Here is a statement by Kaiser: "Nowhere in the total curriculum of theological studies has the student been more deserted and left to his own devices than in bridging the yawning chasm between understanding the content of Scripture as it was given in the past, and proclaiming it with such relevance in the present as to produce faith, life and bona fide works." (pg 18)
]Piper would say I am sure, as he has preached the last " hundred years" in the book of Romans, preach the Biblical Words, but bring it passionately to light the glory of God, to today’s listeners. I have listened to John MacArthur for years and I have yet to get tired of how he is able to hold his listeners’ attention for fifty five minutes.
Kaiser, said this: "There is a loud call for preaching that is totally Biblical in that it is guided by God’s Word in its origins, production and proclamation."
Kaiser was rather upset with the Biblical and theological education. "We have tolerated various forms of mediocrity in preaching and exegesis for too long now."
Now we come to page 23 in Kaiser’s book....... I was devastated, humiliated overwhelmed, to name a few adjectives. After just 23 pages I was subdued. Never had I read anything like this.
Thus I was determined to come back to First Baptist Church, and begin a research on how I could become one of these Expository Preachers. So, I called Jack Hyles. Just kidding, folks.
In 1984 John MacArthur made a series of videos on "Expository Preaching" - seven video tapes. I bought them, listened to them, and made notes. I wonder if the manuscript of those tapes are on the web? 1984 was for me pre-Internet days.
The Shepherd’s Conference gave me a list of books that I should have for expository preaching. But, but.. they are not Baptist!
Out with Hyles and in with MacArthur. Oh my, that really created for me a lot of trouble with the brethren. "Charles, John MacArthur is not a Baptist."
I now must give up my secret at this point. There was no earthly way that I could preach in the manner that Kaiser explained, nor how John preached., nor John Stott, or Martin-Lloyd Jones. They were not Baptist to begin with.
But with fear and trepidation, (I got that word, Charity, on my own, thank you), uneasiness. I came back and prayed. I announced that I was going to begin preaching with a new procedure for me. I was going to stop preaching topical messages and start preaching/teaching from a book in the New Testament, verse by verse. Of course there was not a single member of the church had ever heard of that before.
So beginning in the fall of 1983 thru 1989 I preached over 250 messages from the book of Matthew. This oozed out very slowly, because I was still trying to learn how this process of preaching was done. This was pre- Internet days. So I was able to join MacArthur’s sermon tape club. There you have it. My secret is out. For the next sixteen years I was a member of the sermon tape club. I know what John MacArthur preached every Sunday for over fifteen years.
Over the next year, I had to buy the books that would help me teach the Word of God.
Kaiser said in 1980 "For a large segment of the Christian Church it is a truism to say that Biblical expositon has become a lost art in contemporary preaching." What would Kaiser say today?
How did First Baptist Church react to this new approach to preaching? Our associate pastor knew that I had become a heretic of sorts. One member thought that I had quit preaching altogether. One family quit the church because they said I had quit preaching the Gospel. One said I was no longer spiritual because now I was in my study for hours studying, and I was using notes which proved I was not spiri filled. Evangelist Bob Smith said, "Charles, if you would spend the time you spend studying out Soul Winning, you could build this church." Other preachers thought I had left the Baptist and joined the Ecumenical church.
You might wonder, did I survive after this change......... The next post.
Charity Whisnant, truth-proof