Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Expository Genius of John Calvin

I recently finished reading The Expository Genius of John Calvin by Steve Lawson put out by Reformation Trust. The book is a great biography that covered the life preaching of Calvin. Lawson emphasizes the high view of God, scripture, prayer, and preaching that Calvin held to as he approached the pulpit, prepared to preach, delivered the sermon, and applied truth as he preached.

The Expository Genius of John Calvin contains eight chapters. Chapters 2-8 contain distinctives that emphasize the subject of chapters; adding evidence to how John Calvin approached the pulpit, prepared as a preacher, launched the sermon, expounded the text, crafted the delivery, applied the truth, and concluded the exposition. See the following table of contents for example:

Preface: Standing on Holy Ground
Chapter 1: Calvin’s Life and Legacy
Chapter 2: Approaching the Pulpit
1. Biblical Authority
2. Divine Presence
3. Pulpit Priority
4. Sequential Exposition
Chapter 3: Preparing the Preacher
5. Diligent Mind
6. Devoted Heart
7. Relentless Will
Chapter 4: Launching the Sermon
8. Direct Beginning
9. Extemporaneous Delivery
10. Scriptural Context
11. Stated Theme
Chapter 5: Expounding the Text
12. Specific Text
13. Exegetical Precision
14. Literal Interpretation
15. Cross-References
16. Persuasive Reasoning
17. Reasonable Deductions
Chapter 6: Crafting the Delivery
18. Familiar Words
19. Vivid Expressions
20. Provocative Questions
21. Simple Restatements
22. Limited Quotations
23. Unspoken Outline
24. Seamless Transitions
25. Focused Intensity
Chapter 7: Applying the Truth
26. Pastoral Exhortation
27. Personal Examination
28. Loving Rebuke
29. Polemic Confrontation
Chapter 8: Concluding the Exposition
30. Succinct Summation
31. Pressing Appeal
32. Climactic Prayer
Conclusion: “We Want Again Calvins!”

While I am not a pastor or preacher, I think there are many things lay people in the church can learn and imitate from Calvin as they continue the process of sanctification. Calvin's view of Sola Scriptura can be held by lay persons, identifying the Bible as the sole authority of God. Additionally the "cornerstone of [Calvin's] theology, life and ministry was soli Deo Gloria - the glory of God alone"should resonate in the lives of all Christians.

Calvin's example of a pastor and preacher helps me as a church member know how to pray for the pastors of my church as they bring the Word to the church. As my pastors faithfully bring the Word through expository preaching, I can pray for them as they prepare the sermons and while they deliver, that these faithful men would be diligent, devoted, and have a zeal for God's glory.

Steve Lawson states in the beginning of the book, "our generation has compromised this sacred calling to preach". It is my hope and prayer that faithful men like Calvin will be unashamed of the Word of God and the gospel; and faithfully preach the Word with the same zeal Calvin had for God's glory.

Dr. Steve Lawson is the senior pastor at Christ Fellowship Baptist Church in Mobile, AL and is president of New Reformation, a ministry designed "to bring about biblical reformation in the church today". He also serves on the executive board of The Master's Seminary and college.

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