Question and Answer Session
Bruce Ware – BW
David Miller – DM
Steve Lawson – SL
Jeff Noblit – JN
Q: How can we avoid a religion of dead works?
BW: We get to the point of dead works when there is a heaviness in doctrine without a heart embrace of the gospel. We also need to ignore wanting to be liked. We need to be offensive when we need to be offensive. Our approval is from God alone.
DM: When the preacher of the church diverts the attention away from the gospel to other things.
SL: We must keep the main thing the main thing. Keep the peripheral issues suppressed. We must cease reliance on pragmatic things and depend on the power of God. This was the problem with the church in Ephesus. See Edwards “Religious Affections” on this topic.
JN: A doctrinally sound and spirit-lead pulpit is necessary. There must also be church discipline. Doctrine must be taken seriously by the congregation.
Q: Can a church’s methodology undermine its sound theology?
SL: This can happen in evangelism, giving a false assurance of salvation. Using manipulative evangelism. The methodology cannot be man-centered. Doctrine and methodology should be guided by godly men. Strong preaching makes for soft hearts. Soft preaching makes for hard hearts.
BW: Training for a theological and biblical mind and heart need to be promoted in the church. Not just keeping people entertained and out of trouble. The whole of the program in the church needs to be focused in this. Equip the people to have the mind of Christ.
JN: What helps the most is preaching. More than classes. More than seminars. We need to know the answer to the question “How?”
Q: How do I learn to preach the gospel – be a gospel centered preacher?
SL: It is more caught than taught. Sit under strong gospel preachers. The text must be king. Don’t bring truths to the text, take truths from the text.
BW: Don Carson’s approach to historical-redemptive progression of revelation.
JN: The text has a limited fulfillment and an ultimate fulfillment.
Q: Who should we be listening to as an example?
SL: Jesus Christ. Adrian Rogers because of his bold authority. John MacArthur because of his Bible exposition. S. Lewis Johnson because of his expository style. Gary Thomas because he is articulate. John Piper because of his fervency, zeal and God-centeredness. But we must be careful trying to emulate anyone. We must be ourselves. Read Spurgeon. Read Whitfield.
BW: Brian Borgman because of his careful exegesis. Lee Tankersly because of his application.
Q: Excesses we look back on and cringe.
SL: Trying to have too many cross-references and losing sight of the text. Spurgeon said that the whole Bible called out to him every week “Preach me! Preach me!” Not having application for our doctrine.
DM: Not persevering with the text until your own heart has been affected. How should we expect others to repent unless we have done so ourselves?
BW: Balance – we need to be full of grace and truth. Truth without grace leads to harshness.