How to Sanctify God: Practical Progress from the Puritans, Part Three

How do we sanctify God? We have been looking at this thought, brought from the Lord’s Prayer found in Matthew 6:9. Thomas Manton, a Puritan preacher, has walked us through very practical ways in which we can sanctify God. We have noticed how God is sanctified upon us in judgment and by us in our lives. We can sanctify God in thoughts, words, and actions. (Manton, 86) We have examined how to sanctify God in thoughts and words, and now we will look at how to sanctify God in our actions.

Manton begins by dividing our actions into two things: worship and ordinary conversation (or lifestyle).

Sanctifying God in Worship

Manton writes, “In our worship, there God especially will be sanctified.” (Manton, 87) He goes on to write, “God is very tender of his worship: sancta sanctis, holy things must be managed by holy men in a holy manner. Therefore, what is it to sanctify God when we draw night to him? To have a more excellent frame of heart in worship than we have about other things.”

When we worship God, we must remember Who we are worshiping. Manton cites Ecclesiastes 5:1. Feel the reverence and seriousness of this verse, “Guard your steps when you go to the house of God.” We would do well to consider the seriousness of worship. I am slowly (very slowly) working my way through R. Kent Hughes and Douglas Sean O’Donnell’s The Pastor’s Book: A Comprehensive and Practical Guide to Pastoral Ministry. The very first chapter addresses Sunday worship. In the chapter, specifically pages 32-38 provide a walkthrough of Ecclesiastes 5:1-7 in which they address the seriousness of worship.

Manton ends the section with these weighty words, “We must not go about these holy services hand over head, but with great caution and heed.” (Manton, 87)

Sanctifying God in Ordinary Conversation

Our lives can either sanctify God or dilute His good Name. Manton quips that to sanctify God is, “When our life is ordered so that we may give men occasion to say, that surely he is a holy God whom we serve.” (Manton, 87) This, according to Manton, can be accomplished two ways:

  1. “When you walk as remembering you have a holy God.” (Manton, 87) We should build our lives around the truth that God is holy. The Wesminster Confession of Faith describes God as, “…most holy in all His counsels, in all His works, and in all His commands.” (WCF 2.2) In another point Manton observes that God’s holiness “…is that which God counteth to be his chief excellency, and the glory which he will manifest among the sons of men.” (Manton, 88) God is, according to the angels, holy, holy, holy (see Isaiah 6:3). When we remember that God is holy, our lives will be different. We will seek to be like our holy God in our speech (Ephesians 4:29) and in our interactions with each other (Ephesians 5:1-6:9). Manton, bridging off this idea, comments, “Therefore you must be watchful and strict.” (Manton, 87)
  2. “When you walk as discovering to others you have a holy God.” (Manton, 87) This is a wordy way of saying practice what you preach. One of the greatest hindrances to the Christian faith is hypocrisy. If you want some proof of this, check our Barna’s research on this. Manton notes the issues surrounding this, “A carnal worshipper profaneth the memory of God in the world.” (Manton, 88) One of the dangers of living a life rightly structured is human moralism. Not unaware of this, Manton warns, “We should discover (or make known) more than a human excellency, that so those which look upon us may say, These are the servants of the holy God.” (Manton, 88) When Christians sanctify God in action they “discovereth what a God he hath.” (Manton, 88)

So, Christian, are you sanctifying God? We have noted three ways in which we can sanctify God: in thought, speech, and action. Let every aspect of our being sanctify God!

Some Helpful Articles from 9Marks

9Marks is an incredible ministry for churches and pastors. Here are some of their recent articles. I do not own the articles, materials, or anything associated with them. However, I encourage you to visit the links and be blessed.

I was particularly blessed by the Best Books for Pastors in 2017. One book that I’d like to highlight is David Murray’s Reset. I will be reading that annually!

Best Books for Pastors in 2017, by Alex Duke

4 Reasons Every Church Needs Senior Saints, by Tim Counts

Life and Apologetics with R. C. Sproul, an interview with Mark Dever and R. C. Sproul

 

 

 

Photo by Beatriz Pérez Moya on Unsplash

“The Mechanics of Planning Our Preaching” from Kyle McDanell

This post is from Kyle McDanell’s blog Sola Evangelii. I have been blessed by Kyle’s blogs, messages, and tweets. This particular blog post was quite helpful. I hope that you are blessed and helped by it!

You can read this post in its original here.

Everything below comes from Pastor Kyle. Enjoy!

Image Credit

“Last week I explained why every pastor should plan his preaching a year in advance. In this post, I want to explain the mechanics of how to do it each year.

 

1. Brainstorm from January-November

Every pastor knows his church and ought to be able to anticipate some of its needs. In addition, there are certain books, passages, and subjects that pastors come across they want to preach. For eleven months out of the year, I jot as many of these down as I can. If I am leading toward preaching through a lengthy book (like Genesis or Romans) I try to think through how to do so. Maybe it would  be best to preach, for example, Genesis 1-11 and then take a short break and pick up in chapter 12 or maybe it would just be best to start in Romans 1:1 and continue until it is completed.

Also contemplate on what sort of doctrines and topics you would like to preach. Topics might include marriage, money, faith, temptation, the fruits of the spirit, grace, the cross, and on and on. Doctrines might include the atonement, theology proper, eschatology, etc. Consider the logistics, invest in resources, and take any notes or ideas you have.

 

2. Write Out Every Sunday and Mark Every Holiday and Special Services

After brainstorming for eleven months, I get out my calendar and write down every Sunday of the next year and then mark every important holiday or special service that might call for a unique sermon. These include Resurrection Sunday, Christmas (which might be a series), Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day. Some add Sanctity of Life Sunday, New Years, Independence Day, and other special occasions.

In addition to these, if possible, mark the days you plan on being on vacation. My church blesses me with two paid Sunday’s off each year. I work with my wife to plan these Sunday’s out. One year she was pregnant and so we knew to reserve a Sunday around the end of the pregnancy so I could better serve her and our growing family. Other years I was taking summer courses in seminary and so reserved at least one Sunday for that.

 

3. Seek to Preach Variety

For me, I prefer to preach a variety of books, texts, subjects, etc. For example, I like to begin each year digging in the life of Jesus. So from the first Sunday of the year to Resurrection Sunday, I walk our congregation through the ministry of Jesus. For the past few years, this has meant walking verse by verse through the Gospel of Mark. I know right now that I will begin next year in Mark 8:27 where I left off last year.

I also like to preach from the Old Testament. I have preached from both short minor prophets (like Haggai, Joel, and Jonah) and lengthier historical writings (like Exodus). I always try to make sure our people are exposed to the Old Testament.

In addition to an Old Testament book I seek to cover a New Testament book. So far I’ve done Colossians, Philippians, Galatians, and others.

I usually pick at least one subject. Thus far in my preaching ministry, I have preached on the Fruits of the Spirits, the spiritual disciplines, spiritual roadblocks, and other topics.

I always seek to preach at least one doctrinal series. Our churches are suffering with a lack of doctrinal depth and I do not want to forsake preaching the truth of orthodoxy. The key here is to show your congregation the truth and its application. Over the years I have preached on Theology Proper, Christology, the atonement, ecclesiology, and eschatology.

Finally, I always try to do at least a small series for Christmas. Sometimes its just a two-part series. Sometimes its more.

The above is only a guide. If I am preaching through a lengthy book, I will have to sacrifice one or more of the above. If I am preaching through Romans, for example, I might hold off on a doctrinal series knowing that one cannot avoid preaching doctrine when preaching through Romans.

 

4. Plan Your Preaching

Now you can plan your preaching. I read through Mark, for example, and meditate on where to begin a passage and where to end. From there I trace it through Easter. I then contemplate on how many weeks it will take to exposit through this or that book, how many weeks I’ll spend on this or that doctrine, etc.

 

5. Be Open to the Spirit

This is a practical guide for the pastor, but the ultimate lead should be that of the Holy Spirit. You know your people but God knows them better. You are their pastor and are called to shepherd them. This might, at times, require an interruption of a series or a changing of your planned sermons. When events pop up in the culture and in the congregation the man of God must address them. Don’t be a slave to your preaching calendar; be a slave of Christ in whom you proclaim.”

How to Sanctify God: Practical Progress from the Puritans, Part Two

In a previous post we examined Manton’s exposition of the Lord’s Prayer, namely, how to sanctify God’s name. We noted that God is sanctified upon us and by us. We say that we can sanctify God in our thoughts, looking at maintaining a biblical view of God in our minds and staying close to God during times of difficulties.

Today we are going to walk with Manton as he teaches us how to sanctify God with our tongues (or speech).

Manton gives three ways we can do this:

  • “God is sanctified with our tongues, when we use God’s name, titles, ordinances, and word, as holy things.” (Manton, 87)
  • “When we speak of the Lord with reverence, and with great seriousness of heart, not taking his name in vain” (Manton, 87)
  • “When we are deeply affected with his praise.” (Manton, 87)

Let us look at each individually and discover practical ways that we can apply them.

Using God’s name, titles, ordinances, and word as holy things.

One aspect of Judaism that I admire is their reverence for God. The Scriptures portray God as holy (see Exodus 15:11; Isaiah 6:3; and Revelation 4:8). This is his “beauty” (see Stephen Charnock’s quote in A. W. Pink’s The Attributes of God, 41). The most common name for God in Rabbinic Judaism is “The Holy One, Blessed Be He” (see Abraham Cohen’s Everyman’s Talmud, 22). This refers to God’s name. What about His titles? What about His ordinances (or works)? Or His Word? Do we reverence these?

Take our Bibles, for example. Do you place God’s Word on the ground? Do you sling it into the pew, on your book shelf, or leave it all week in the back of your car? One way that we can sanctify God is to treat His name, titles, ordinances, and word with great reverence.

Speaking about God with reverence and seriousness, avoiding taking His name in vain.

The command in Exodus 20:7 is, “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.” This, indeed, is a serious matter. One way in which we can sanctify God in our speech is to speak reverently of the Holy One of Israel. To take something in vain is to treat it as common.

How do we do this? One example is in our prayers. If, when we pray, we say “God,” “Father God,” and “Lord,” sixty times in a short prayer, we may be taking His name in vain. I said may, because I cannot see an individual’s heart. However, if we say God’s name repeatedly, it can become common.

Another way in which can sanctify God’s name is by speaking with it lovingly and reverently. Too often I find myself using God’s name in a nonchalant way. When we speak about God, we must treat His name in a holy way. We should take great care in not rushing through it, or speaking of it in a light manner. Let us speak about God with reverence, thus sanctifying Him in our speech.

Being deeply affected with God’s praise.

This method seems off when compared with the other two. Perhaps that is because we are more familiar with the first two, and we are not as well versed in the biblical foundation for worship. Our hearts should be affected. The older usage of the word deals more with the emotions, or affections (Jonathan Edwards uses this definition in his work, A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections, in Three Parts.) Manton states, “It is no slight thing to praise God.” (Manton, 87)

It is not slight thing to praise God. -Manton

I think of my wife. She is, other than God, my greatest treasure. She is always so kind, loving, and sweet. She adores our three children, always finding new ways to express her charity toward them. She is my life. I cannot imagine going through a day without expression some form of praise to her. This is the idea of our praise to God. On an infinitely higher plane, God deserves our praise. Manton references Psalm 51:15 and 45:1 as texts that support this thought. One can always return to 1 Thessalonians 5:18 where Paul encourages, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Imagine if we walked through our day constantly praising our incredibly holy, loving, and sovereign God! This would change our lives! So, sanctify God through praises.

Meditate on these practical exhortations of Thomas Manton. Live in the Lord’s Prayer, and daily sanctify God in your life!

How to Sanctify God: Practical Progress from the Puritans, Part One

Photo by Andreas P. on Unsplash

The Puritans were extremely practical people. They loved the Scripture, but they loved the application of Scripture as well. This is one of the reasons I am drawn to the Puritans.

Enter my wife: one Christmas she purchased me a set of Thomas Manton and Thomas Brooks. I am alternating between the two, working my way through one at a time. I was delighted with Thomas Brooks’ first volume, and I eagerly began Mr. Manton’s.

Currently, I am working my way through his Exposition of the Lord’s Prayer. The doctrine he presents from Matthew 6:9 is, “That God will be so glorified in the world as that his name may be hallowed or sanctified.” (Manton, 85)

He asks the question, “How many ways is God’s name sanctified?” (Manton, 86) and then answers:

  1. “Upon us, by the righteous executions and judgments of his providence.” (Manton, 86) This thought struck me, for it both profound and yet simple. God gets glory from the righteous as well as the unrighteous.I always found it difficult to grasp how the unrighteous could glorify God. Paul’s description of the unrighteous is anything but flattering (see Romans 1:18-32). God is sanctified when He, through His righteousness, judges the wicked. This, God’s name can be sanctified upon us.
  2. “By us. And so he is sanctified in our thoughts, words, and actions; in our heart, tongue, or life.” (Manton, 86)This is where Thomas Manton gets practical. How can one sanctify God in one’s thoughts?
    1. Sanctifying God in our thoughts:
      1. “When we have awful thoughts of his majesty (Psalm 111:9). (Manton, 86) This is so important, because we often bring God down to our own level. We refer to Him as “daddy”. Of course, we must balance a high view of God with the truth of His immanence and fatherhood (see, for example, Romans 8:15 and Galatians 4:6). Yet, when individuals get a glimpse of the Sovereign God, they are not running up to Him and calling Him daddy; they are bowing before His infinite majesty (see Isaiah 6 and Revelation 1). When we envision God in His unlimited glory we sanctify Him in our thoughts.
      2. “More especially God is sanctified when, in straits, difficulties, and dangers, we can bear ourselves upon the power and sufficiency of God, and go on resolutely and cheerfully with our duty, notwithstanding discouragements.” (Manton, 86) Manton is referring to a resolute trust in the Sovereign God. Rather than focusing on the problems at hand, we choose to focus on the Perfect God. Manton writes, “To sanctify God is to set apart, as the alone object of fear and trust, that he alone is to be feared and trusted, so that we can see no match for God among the creatures; therefore we are to embolden ourselves in the Lord, and go on cheerfully, when we can counterbalance all fears and dangers with his surpassing excellency.” (Manton, 86) What help! O, how much our souls be blessed and encouraged were we to constantly dwell on our Mighty Maker!

We shall take up the remainder of how to sanctify God in our hearts. Brothers and sisters, sanctify God in your thoughts. May you ever dwell on the Divine Lord, our Heavenly Father. Be lost in the fields of His infinite strength. Fly through the endless space of His unrivaled rule. Sleep soundly in the bed of His ever-watching care.

With Manton we agree, “It is a practical acknowledgement of God’s matchless excellency. Thus we sanctify God in our hearts.” (Manton, 87)

 

*You can purchase Thomas Brooks’ and Thomas Manton’s works from the Banner of Truth. I cannot recommend them highly enough.

“Do I believe?”

In our last post we looked at the first three ways in which “we can help each other answer the question ‘Do I believe?’” (Lawrence, 104)

We began a discussion on conversion, that is, the means by which a sinful man is brought to life by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Many people in our churches struggle with this question. Am I really a Christian? Do I really believe?

In an effort to help address these concerns, Michael Lawrence offers several ways for us to help discover the answer.

You can see the previous post for the first three. So let’s dive right in!

  1. “Fourth, be especially careful before you assure children of their faith.” This one may come as a shock, but how many times have children’s workers ask the child, “Do you want to go to heaven when you die?” And, like almost all children, the child responds, “YES!” What happens next? The worker rejoices and tells the child that he (or she) will go to heaven.

The question is, “Did the child really believe?” Were they converted? I have no doubt that there are people who become Christians in their childhood. But I fear that we unknowingly offer assurance to children who do not need it. I love how Lawrence offers balance to this area. “When they express faith verbally, celebrate. But remember that the true evidence of faith is trust, and trust needs time and opportunity to demonstrate itself.” (Lawrence, 105)

  1. “Fifth, make membership meaningful.” Perhaps more so than anything else, both pastors and congregants sadly misunderstand church membership. People today ask, “Why should I join the church?” As long as the church accepts their money, provides a preacher, and has nice facilities and programs, what difference does it make? This post is not a treatment of church membership. For that I would recommend Jonathan Leeman’s Membership: How the World Knows Who Represents Jesus. Yet, if we treated membership with more seriousness, it would definitely help answer the question, “Do I believe?”
    Lawrence writes, “We help each other know that we believe by attending the public services of the church regularly and by building into each other’s lives.” (Lawrence, 105)
  2. “Sixth, practice church discipline.” Along the same lines as meaningful membership, church discipline seems to be non-existent today. If we are focused on building our church, our community, and our kingdom, why would we discipline? We cannot even switch colors of carpet for fear of offending a certain church member (who just happens to contribute financially). Alternatively, we cannot tell an individual that they cannot teach a class because we are afraid they will go to the church down the street. Is this what God’s the church to do? Did He not instruct us in matters of discipline (see Matthew 18:15-20; 1 Corinthians 5:1-2)? Church discipline, while certainly not an enjoyable or glamorous part of ministry, is nonetheless important. But how does this answer the question, “Do I believe?” Lawrence succinctly states, “Church discipline means that the congregation won’t console itself or anyone else falsely by saying, ‘At least they prayed a prayer when they were a kid.’ Rather, because of love, the church is not satisfied with historical faith, and won’t let you be satisfied with it, either.” (Lawrence, 106-107)
  3. Seventh, make the gospel your first recourse in counseling and discipling.” I fear that I have made this mistake too often. We assume that someone who comes to church faithfully is a Christian. However, as you probably know, church attendance does not bring about conversion. Rather than assuming, why not begin with the Gospel? Beginning with the Gospel helps us answer the question, “Do I believe?” (Lawrence, 107)
  4. “Eighth, remember that relationships are as much or more about encouragement than they are accountability.” I am quick to see the negative, slow to see the positive, and ignorant (more than I’d like to admit) to distinguish between the two. We are acutely aware of everyone’s shortcomings. Mention the name and we can rattle off their top five weaknesses in about 30 seconds. Try and think of the good qualities of that person is a different story. In fact, for many of us, it is a different book in the library down the street. Focusing on encouragement, with regards to conversion, helps us see the good that God is doing in the lives of our brothers and sisters. Lawrence notes, “Sometimes it is hard to assure ourselves. Our sins are always in front of us, clouding our view. Our perspective is so often dominated by the pressing sin and the failure of the moment. That’s when we need someone else to look at us, and to point out the longer-term growth, present trust, and the fruit of the Spirit that we often cannot see in ourselves.” (Lawrence, 107-108)

So, do you believe? Have you joined with a body of believers? Have you recently examined yourself, to see whether you are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5)?

May the answer to those questions be a resounding yes! And may the church help to answer that in the affirmative.  

“Do I believe?”

(Photo by adam morse on Unsplash)

In Michael Lawrence’s book, Conversion: How God Creates a People, the question, “Do I believe?” comes up. This is certainly a question we should all ask, and frequently (see 2 Corinthians 13:5). The Church faces a danger in her presentation of the Gospel. At times we present Christ as one choice among many, a relativistic mentality in which one chooses based upon his or her own preference. In this case, it is like choosing a favorite flavor of ice cream. While others present following Jesus as a mere reciting of a prayer. If you pray, “God, I know I am a sinner. I know Christ died for me. I believe.” then you are right on your way to heaven! It does not matter if you actually believe it. You said the prayer!

Of course, these two are not the only ways in which we skew what conversion is, and Lawrence notes those throughout his book. However, in his chapter titled, Assess Before You Assure, he offers eight ways in which the Church can help answer the question, “Do I believe?”

  1. “First, slow the membership process down.”This one is tough, especially for pastors. Imagine telling someone who wants to join your church, “Wait, let’s have a conversation and see what God is doing in your life.” His numbers would decrease! Yet, as Lawrence writes, “It shouldn’t be hard to join a church, but unlike the churches I grew up in, you shouldn’t be able to join the first Sunday you visit.” (Lawrence, 104)If we take the time to get to know one another, we may actually learn that one’s understanding of the Gospel is inaccurate. We may learn that they are able to articulate the Gospel, but their life does not match it. Hopefully, however, we learn that they know the Gospel and live by it, which will help confirm, in their own heart and mind, the affirmative answer to our question.
  2. “Second, have pastors or elders conduct membership interviews.”This is an area that I believe many churches could benefit. God gave the church pastor-teachers for several reasons. Ephesians 4:12-16 gives a good overview:“to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” (ESV)One way to help answer the question, “Do I believe?” is to be interviewed by an elder or pastor. They are gifted in the areas of biblical teaching and insight, maintain high moral character (through the grace of God, of course), and are given by God for the very task of answering this question (among other duties). In the churches of the United States, we are too easily satisfied with a quick conversation that goes something like this:


    1. Pastor: So, why have you come forward?
    2. Prospective member: I want to join the church.
    3. Pastor: Sounds great! Have you accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior?
    4. Prospective member: Yes I did when I was a kid!
    5. Pastor: Amazing. Welcome to the church!


Of course, this is a simplification. However, I do not believe its too far off. Lawrence notes, “The point is to take the time to hear a person’s story in safety. There’s only so much you can learn in the hallway after church.” (Lawrence, 105) A discussion with an elder or pastor will help confirm one’s conversion, or it will open the door to discussion what conversion really is. Either way, the pastor-teacher is able to help develop the “knowledge of the Son of God” in the life of that individual (Ephesians 4:13).

 

  1. “Third, reconsider your practice of baptism and the Lord’s Supper.”The Scriptures have much to say on these two ordinances. I believe the Church, in general, has reacted toward the Catholic understanding of sacraments too much. For example, when someone is baptized we stress that it is merely symbolic, it just represents the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Or take the Eucharist. We are simply doing this “in remembrance” of Him. We have down played their worth and benefit in order to avoid a wrong understanding. It is a good motive, but one that needs a little correcting. I believe Michael Lawrence’s words are best: “Other than on the missions frontier, as with the Ethiopian eunuch, the apostles had no category for a baptized Christian who wasn’t part of a local church. Devote time in the morning service to hear baptismal testimonies—not of prayers prayed, but of lives changed. When it comes to the Lord’s Super, don’t say, ‘The Tables are open.’ Take time to explain to each other who should participate in the Supper: baptized members of gospel-preaching local churches.” (Lawrence, 105)

We will save the other five for another post. Might I encourage you to ask yourself, “Do I believe?” One assistance is the local church. Are you a part of believers? Have you covenanted together? Perhaps you have never experience conversion. I would love to help you answer the question, “Do I believe?”

 

You can check on the book Conversion: How God Creates a People by Michael Lawrence here.