Item description for Preaching the Cross (Together for the Gospel) by Mark Dever, J. Ligon Duncan & R. Albert Mohler Jr...
Overview Prominent authors call pastors to pursue gospel-saturated, preaching-centered ministries.
Proclaiming the gospel is without a doubt the most important task of pastoral ministry, yet often other, seemingly more urgent activities obscure it. From time to time all pastors and preachers need to be reminded of the primacy of the gospel.
Preaching the Cross does just this. It is a call to expository, gospel-centered preaching as the center of pastoral ministry. This volume showcases an unprecedented combination of pastors representing a variety of evangelical traditions. Though they differ on some secondary points of church practice, they all enthusiastically celebrate the centrality of the cross of Christ-keeping the main thing the main thing. That message every reader can take away from this book and adopt in his pastoral ministry.
Authors Mark Dever, J. Ligon Ducan III, R. Albert Mohler Jr., and C. J. Mahaney are joined by colleagues John MacArthur, John Piper, and R. C. Sproul in calling pastors to pursue gospel-saturated, preaching-centered ministries.
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Studio: Crossway Books
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.26" Width: 7.1" Height: 0.69" Weight: 0.79 lbs.
Release Date Apr 1, 2007
Publisher GOOD NEWS PUBLISHING #65
Series Together For The Gospel
ISBN 1581348282 ISBN13 9781581348286
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More About Mark Dever, J. Ligon Duncan & R. Albert Mohler Jr
Mark Dever (PhD, Cambridge University) is the senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC, and president of 9Marks (9Marks.org). Dever has authored over a dozen books and speaks at conferences nationwide.
C. J. Mahaney is the senior pastor of Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville. He has written, edited and contributed to numerous books, including Proclaiming a Cross-Centered Theology; Don't Waste Your Sports; and Sex, Romance and the Glory of God. C. J. and his wife, Carolyn, are the parents of three married daughters and one son, and the happy grandparents to twelve grandchildren.
Mark Dever has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about Preaching the Cross (Together for the Gospel)?
Great Lectures for A Genuine Pastoral Ministry Apr 17, 2008
The purpose of this collection of lectures delivered during Together for the Gospel conference is to remind and encourage ministers of the gospel, that they receive the greatest privilege through their calling, to be the heralds of the best news one would ever hear; yet with a great privilege, comes great responsibilities and great dangers that threaten both the messengers, their congregation, and the message itself. Dr. Mark Dever begins with the characteristics of a true minister consisting of cross-centered preaching and life of the minister himself that inevitably would result in a cross-centered congregation. In regard to a cross-centered life where the Scripture text that he took the study from in 1 Cor 4, involves suffering, it is hard for western pastors to preach about suffering without hypocrisy. What I mean is there are certain ministers, some who came to mind are Polycarp, Dietrich Bonhoffer, Richard Wurmbrand, and certainly the Apostles themselves; who are qualified to preach about suffering because they knew and experienced directly what suffering for the gospel is, how it feels, what it means, and what it takes to endure it. So while Mark's message is excellent, particularly when he reminded that pastors do not own the church, Christ does; it tastes a little bland to me when he preached about suffering because this is something that I see him as preaching only without any direct exposure.
Next, Dr. Ligon Duncan hammers on the importance to preach the gospel not only from the New but the Old Testament, an excellent reminder that the redemption plan spans all the way from Genesis to Revelation, not Matthew to Revelation. His encouragement was to preach expositionally from the Old Testament that covers the redemption plan through Jesus Christ, the characters of God, grace, personal experiences, and Christian life with helpful guidance and examples.
Now the best lecture to me is by Dr. Al Mohler, where he covers the relationship between "Christ and Culture" taken from Richard Niebuhr's text, the Augustinian view of the gospel and culture, taken from his treatise, "The City of God", and finally his own analysis on the culture we live in today. In light of Augustine's thoughts that,
"The city of man is falling, passing away, and yet it is filled with people whose passions are for that city. The city of man is populated by people who want to find their deepest meaning and deepest satisfactions in this city, and yet they will never find it there." (p.76-77),
Mohler's charge to the ministers is to love those who are in the city, not the city itself. In other words, the goal of preaching is the salvation of the people of cultures, not the cultures of the people or both. In the last section of his lecture, I have not seen anyone describing the characteristics of both modern and post-modern cultures as precisely as what Dr. Mohler does, where he came up with seven of them, all of which begin with "self"; self-fulfillment, self-sufficiency, self-definition, self-transcendence, self-absorption, self-enhancement, and self-security. Though Mohler was humble enough to warn that his view is reductionist or perspectival, I don't think it is the case at all. On the contrary, I believe he nails it and I can not agree more about the result of his analysis.
Prof. RC Sproul then takes on the topic of the centrality of the doctrine of justification by faith alone. As usual, he does a superb job explaining why this is the case by comparing it against the Roman Catholic theology, by which the readers will clearly see the difference between faith alone versus, faith plus work; grace alone versus grace plus merit, and justification once for all perfectly and completely undertaken by the work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross, versus, first, second and third planks of justifications consisting of the sacraments of baptism and penance, and purgatory, respectively (p. 89-101).
The next lecture is the case where one may ask, "What is the nature and the end of expository preaching?" which is tackled by Pastor John Piper by beginning with the nature of God himself to answer the question,
"From all eternity the ever-existing, never-becoming, always perfect God has known himself and loved what he knows. He has eternally seen his beauty and savored what he sees. His understanding of his own reality is flawless, and his exuberance in enjoying it is infinite. He has no needs, for he has not imperfection. He has no inclinations to evil because he has no deficiencies that could tempt him to do wrong. He is therefore the holiest and happiest being that is or that can be conceived. We can not conceive of a happiness greater than the happiness of infinite power delighting infinitely in infinite beauty in the personal fellowship of the Trinity" (p. 109).
Then he goes on to relate it with human beings, the only creatures made in the image of God,
"To share this experience, the experience of knowing and enjoying his glory, is the reason God created the world. He would bring us to know him and to enjoy him the way he knows himself and the way he enjoys himself" (p.109).
The last statement is significant. God created us to bring us to know and enjoy him the way he knows and enjoys himself.
"Indeed, his purpose is that the very knowledge that he has of himself and the very joy that he has in himself will be our knowledge and our enjoyment, so that we know him with his own knowledge and we enjoy him with his own joy. This is the ultimate meaning of Jesus' prayer in John 17:26 where he asks is Father, "that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them." The Father's knowledge of and joy in "the radiance of the glory of God (Heb 1:3), whose name is Jesus Christ, will be in us because Jesus is in us" (p.110).
Though so far, it may be implicit that because God is the happiest being where his happiness consists in the enjoyment of himself, therefore, the fact God created us to know him with his own knowledge, and enjoy him with his own joy, is the love of God, Piper continues with the following,
"His aim to share that experience (knowing and enjoying himself the way he knows and enjoys himself), is the love of God. God's love is his commitment to share the knowledge and enjoyment of his glory with us. When John says that God is love (1 John 4:8, 16), he means that it is God's nature to share the enjoyment of his glory, even if it costs him the life of his Son."
A true love consists of desiring and attempting something that causes the beloved to be most happy. A false understanding of what makes one most happy leads to false love, though the intention may be right. An understanding that true happiness consists of having many things leads to a love that indulges the beloved with many "things." But the love of God is the only true love of the purest breed. He alone knows what truly makes us happy, that is, the knowledge and enjoyment of himself. Both knowledge and enjoyment are important. It is not one or the other. It is both knowledge and enjoyment. One may know but not enjoy. One can not enjoy without knowing. The true happiness is both knowing and enjoying God.
Therefore, the nature and the end of expository preaching is the exulatation and the glory of God, as the title of his lecture suggests.
Without intending to diminish the weight of Pastors Mahaney and MacArthurs lecture contents, I would simply point out the indispensable considerations that they brought up for ministers. Mahaney speaks of an absolute necessity not only of solid doctrines, but also to watch the minister's own life; particularly through the accountability group. MacArthur gives valuable insights from his 40-year ministerial experience, about the centrality of preaching the Scriptures, which can be summed up in "Ten Reasons to Preach the Word of God" (p. 143-159), or a single statement that to me describes his passion, "... to concentrate on getting the meaning of the Scripture right, and to consume my energies preaching the Word of God as accurately and as faithfully as possible" (p. 140).
In summary, here is the grade I would assign to each speaker's lecture: Dever: B Duncan: B Mohler: A++ Piper: A Sproul: A Mahaney: A MacArthur: A
A Refreshing Tonic for the Gospel-Centered Pastor Sep 15, 2007
Preaching the Cross is the compilation of the sermons that were given at the general sessions of the 2006 Together for the Gospel Conference (T4G). Chapters include messages from the faces of T4G, Mark Dever, Al Mohler, CJ Maheney and Ligon Duncan; as well as contributions from John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul and John Piper. Also included is the T4G Affirmations and Denials.
This book was enjoyable and edifying for me as I did not attend the conference. I took a message a day and enjoyed interacting with the various preachers. Particular personal favorites included John MacArthur's chapter entitled, Why I Still Preach the Bible after Forty Years of Ministry. This was just littered with pithy MacArthur quotes that serve to simultaneously convict and encourage you.
Here are some examples:
"Faithfully preaching and teaching the Word must be the very heart of our ministry philosophy. Any other approach replaces the voice of God with human wisdom....The preacher's task is not to be a conduit for human wisdom; he is God's voice to speak to the congregation. No human message comes with the stamp of divine authority--only the Word of God. How dare any preacher substitute another message?" (p. 143)
"When I preach, one response that always pleases me most is, `The message was clear.' Clarity is critical and basic. Ambiguity is deadly and produces nothing." (p. 148)
"When I started in ministry, I committed myself to expository preaching, just explaining the Bible, because I knew that there was nothing I could say that was anywhere near as important as what God had to say. The real goal of my ministry has always been to keep my opinions out of it as much as possible--to get the meaning of the passage right and to make it clear to my hearers." (p. 148)
"Show me a church where there is strong Bible teaching over an enduring period of time, and I will show you a congregation that is studying the Word of God on their own skilled in the science of interpretation that has been modeled for them by their pastor. But show me a church where the Word of God is not taught in the pulpit, and I'll show you a place where biblical illiteracy, doctrinal confusion, and spiritual apathy at the personal level is rampant. The people will not rise to a level that is higher than their teacher. They will follow the example of their leaders. So, if we love God's Word, our people will too. If we don't they won't either." (p. 157)
And there is more where that came from; this chapter is a great encouragement to pastors. It makes you want to study, practice and teach.
R.C. Sproul also provides a helpful explanation of the important distinctions between the Roman Catholic doctrine of justification and the Protestant doctrine and in so doing shows why it is so important to understand and proclaim the biblical distinctives.
Al Mohler's chapter entitled Preaching with the Culture in View was also quite helpful. Mohler demonstrates careful and thoughtful biblical fidelity by placing a priority on exposition that is not consumed with culture but rather the gospel, with a view towards sinners being rescued from sin.
I also found Mark Dever's chapter A Real Minister very refreshing. Dever mixes exhortation throughout to stir our hearts to faithful, gospel-centered ministry.
This is just a refreshing book for those who love the gospel, particularly those who are in ministry. I would recommend it for pastors and seminary students, but not to the exclusion of every Christian who enjoys ministry (this should pretty much be everyone). I am regularly looking for books to go through with other guys in an early morning coffee house setting, I think this would be such a book.
Keeping the Cross Central Aug 18, 2007
Nothing today in the church is needed more than a clear proclamation of the cross. Because every generation needs a fresh discovery of the gospel, Preaching the Cross is good food for this generation. The book is the collection of the sermon manuscripts from the 2006 Together for the Gospel Conference, encouraging pastors to preach and live the gospel. The book covers various gospel-related concerns, including:
- the real minister (Mark Dever) - preaching Christ from the Old Testament (Ligon Duncan) - preaching with the culture in view (Albert Mohler) - the center of Christian preaching: justification by faith (R.C. Sproul) - preaching as expository exultation for the glory of God (John Piper) - the pastor's priorities: watch your life and doctrine (C.J. Mahaney) - why I still preach the Bible after forty years of ministry (John MacArthur)
Especially beneficial are the chapters by Piper, Sproul, and Mahaney. Every chapter, however, coupled with prayer will encourage the pastor to boldly preach and live the gospel. A must read for every pastor.
A Call to Faithfulness May 10, 2007
Preaching the Cross By Dever, Duncan, Mohler, Mahaney Review by A.A. Carr
In April of 2006, over 2000 Christian leaders (most of them pastors) gathered for a conference entitled Together for the Gospel. This was a momentous event, as four men from different theological and ecclesiastical backgrounds (Mark Dever, J. Ligon Duncan III, Al Mohler Jr., and C.J. Mahaney) united, along with three special guests, (R.C. Sproul, John Piper, and John MacArthur) by a common passion for the gospel. Preaching the Cross presents the content of the messages delivered at that conference.
While books detailing preaching methodology are legion, books of this sort are hard to find. Preaching the Cross will challenge preachers to consider the foundational issues of their calling. This book is a clarion call to biblical fidelity, passionate preaching, doctrinal and personal purity.
Chapter 1 A Real Minister: 1 Corinthians 4 by Mark E. Dever Challenges those who stand behind the pulpit to examine their calling in light of 1 Cor. 4. Mark Dever argues very persuasively that our churches need to be recovered, and for this to happen we need real ministers who follow the example of the Apostle Paul. This will result in pastors and congregations who place the word of God at the center and faithfully proclaim the glories of the cross.
Chapter 2 Preaching Christ from the Old Testament by J. Ligon Duncan III Is a brief but excellent study in hermeneutics with a view toward preaching. Duncan exhorts his audience to preach the whole counsel of God -including the Old Testament! The pulpiteer who takes this chapter seriously will model good interpretation, a high view of all of Scripture, and feed many souls.
Chapter 3 Preaching with the Culture in View by R. Albert Mohler Jr. Is an astute analysis of culture and its implications for all Christians, but especially those who minister to God's people. The wise preacher will be aware of the impact of culture in preaching dynamics without being enslaved to it.
Chapter 4 The Center of Christian Preaching: Justification by Faith by R.C. Sproul Awakens the complacent from their slumber and arouses them to proclaim justification by faith. Evangelicals often assume this without warrant. Justification by faith is seldom denied outright, but rather eclipsed by doctrinal subtleties, love of technique, and passivity. The Scriptures and history show that justification by faith alone is always prone to various attacks because it cuts across the grain of human nature and offends religious sensibilities. We are all legalists at heart. An examination of Romans and Galatians will quickly bear this out. Two good questions to ask yourself: 1) When was the last time you were in awe of the grace of God? 2) When was the last time you were misunderstood or criticized for preaching grace (Rom.3:8;6:15)?
Chapter 5 Preaching as Expository Exultation for the Glory of God by John Piper Will challenge all who speak for God to return to a passionate, expository proclamation of God' s word. And who better to tackle this assignment than John Piper? This message reminds us that preaching is in the final analysis primarily about God and his glory. In an age of banality, the reader is exhorted to preach the weighty matters of the Word- heaven and hell, the cost of discipleship, and the majesty of God. Never forget that there is an invisible listener to every sermon preached and our primary goal should be to please Him.
Chapter 6 The Pastor's Priorities: Watch Your Life and Doctrine by C. J. Mahaney Is one of the most needed topics for those in ministry today. It is easy enough to become so preoccupied with feeding the souls of others that the preacher forgets to feed himself. It is also easy enough to subtly drift in the proclamation of the truth. This chapter addresses both topics and hits the bull's-eye in the process. The call to accountability is bold and refreshing. History shows that God has used small groups that truly desire to grow in holiness (The Holy Club and the Moravians come to mind). C.J. Mahaney and his associates are marked by the uncommon combination of zeal and humility.
Chapter 7 Why I Still Preach the Bible after Forty Years of Ministry by John MacArthur Answers the question of whether expository preaching is truly viable over the long haul or are vast quantities of spiritual snack food really necessary? The longevity of John MacArthur's pulpit ministry should be an encouragement to all pastors, especially those who are experiencing a period where faithful exposition of Scripture appears to be unfashionable (2 Tim.4:2). This is a rousing call to return to clear preaching based on the proper interpretation of the biblical text. It is here that the preacher finds authority, passion and boldness to proclaim, "Thus says the Lord".
This just released book will be a welcome addition to the library of all those who desire to faithfully preach the cross.
A Call to the Gospel May 3, 2007
You may experience a sense of deja vu when reading Preaching the Cross since this book is the product of last year's Together for the Gospel conference. Several thousand men were in attendance and many have since read summaries of the sessions or have listened to the audio recordings. While the chapters are not mere transcriptions of the messages delivered at the conference, they are, as we would expect, very similar. Of course they are also more polished and are now nicely packaged in a hardcover book.
The task of overseeing the book, which is dedicated to "the next generation of preachers of the cross," and of writing its introduction fell to Mark Dever. He explains the connection between the book and the conference in this way:
Every once in a while God uses a conference such as this in a strategic way to put new heart in his under-shepherds and so bless his people. We prayed that this would be such a conference, that through it God would tune our hearts and minds to him as we thought and talked together about preaching the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. We prayed that those who attended would know great blessing from it.
Now, long after the conclusion of that event, we want to give thanks to God for the encouragement many did indeed experience as a result of that gathering and for the instruction given and friendships made there. In introducing this volume, which is comprised of the conference addresses, I want to say a little bit more about the history of the conference, the "heroes" we invited to join us, and the hopes that we had for the conference attendees--and for you as you prepare to read these messages.
Dever goes on to share the history of the conference, explaining how the four men came to know each other and to share a common desire to put together this conference.
It was at one of those meetings that, during our typically long, enjoyable, question-then-anecdote-then-straight-into-argument and- then-into-passionate-agreement conversations, one of us (I think it was Al, but we all were making the same kind of noises) remarked on the edifying nature of our conversations, and we all expressed a desire for pastors to experience this same sort of fellowship. As we talked, we came up with the idea of holding a conference at which the four of us would speak and afterward sit around and talk about the talks in front of our audience. (We talk about the talks late at night anyway, whenever we find ourselves together at a conference, although we do it without the audience!) We weren't sure what kind of audience we would get for our event, but we knew that we'd enjoy it no matter who came; any benefit accruing to others would be a bonus.
And just like that a conference was born. Though there were and still are several important theological disagreements between these men, they gladly laid aside these secondary issues for the sake of the gospel. "We thought that interest in the conference might be generated in part because of our differences, which actually serve to highlight our agreements," he writes. Dever discusses how they decided to invite three of their preaching heroes to the conference. He then introduces each of the three men: John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul and John Piper and reflects on the impact each of them has had on this group of men. I particularly enjoyed his description of John Piper:
And then there is that current evangelical rock star, John Piper! What a gift John is to the church. While too many of us are saying a lot of things quickly and running on to the next, John stops and stands and stays and stares at God's Word. Sometimes he stares at something that seems so obvious, but he keeps staring until it begins to expand and fill the horizon of his sight. It becomes rich and detailed and luscious and intricate and full and demanding and hope-giving and life-affirming and sin-denying and sacrifice-requiring--and adjective-adding. John prays and thinks until a part of God's Word which seemed simple and obvious becomes fresh and powerful.
The remainder of the book simply provides the content of each of the conference's seven keynote addresses. Mark Dever draws a contrast between a real minister of the gospel and a counterfeit one, showing that a real pastor preaches a cross-centered message, lives a cross-centered life and has cross-centered followers. Ligon Duncan provides eight exhortations to preach Christ from the Old Testament and not to fall prey to dwelling only on the New Testament, tacitly creating a canon with the canon. Al Mohler encourages pastors to preach with the culture in view and helps the reader understand the cultural context in which we find ourselves. R.C. Sproul writes of the center of Christian preaching in the great doctrine of justification by faith alone, first presenting the Roman Catholic view of justification and then introducing the biblical understanding. John Piper discusses preaching as expository exultation for the glory of God, first reflecting on preaching that is shaped by the glory of God, then portraying the glory of God that inspires this kind of preaching, then offering his understanding of how people awaken to this glory, and finally explaining how all of this calls for the kind of preaching he calls expository exultation. C.J. Mahaney encourages pastors to heed Paul's exhortation to Timothy to "watch your life and doctrine," explaining both the importance of this and showing practical ways of doing so. Finally, John MacArthur wraps things up with his ten-point explanation of why he still preaches the gospel, even (or, more rightly, especially) after forty years of gospel ministry. The Together for the Gospel statement of affirmations and denials is included as well.
Some will wonder if there is any need for this book or may be disappointed that it offers little content that is different from the conference's addresses. I think this book is a valuable addition to any library. While I was at the conference and now have access to the audio files, I found there was a great benefit to my soul in re-reading each of these chapters and in pausing, once again, to celebrate the gospel. Like the conference, this book provides a call for pastors to preach the gospel and to always keep the main thing the main thing. Where a million fads call pastors to do everything but preach the gospel, the authors of this book turn to Scripture to call us all back to a message that is immune to fads--a message that has stood unaltered for two thousand years. They call us to the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ. And there is nothing disappointing about that.