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Serving God’s Words

By Paul A. Barker
June 2012 | Review by Jonathan Bayes

Synopsis

The ministry of 'serving God's words' in the Christian church has numerous aspects, including exposition of the Bible, systematic and historical theology, church history, and the practice of pastoral ministry. This stimulating and helpful volume begins with perspectives on preaching and ministry arising from the Scriptures themselves: Richard Condie on the Ten Commandments, Paul Barker on Moses, David Peterson on Acts, David Jackman on 1 Corinthians, Allan Chapple on 1 Thessalonians, and William Taylor on 1 Timothy. Next are reflections on theological and devotional issues: Don Carson on devotional Bible reading, Graham Cole on ethics, Peter Jensen on judgment, and Michael Raiter on unction. Two concluding studies look at significant examples from church history: Gerald Bray on the Anglican Homilies, and Vaughan Roberts on Charles Simeon. Serving God's Words was commissioned in honour of Peter Adam, whose own works Speaking God's Words (on preaching) and Hearing God's Words (on biblical spirituality) it seeks to complement and develop. The contributors include scholars and pastoral ministers, a combination that Peter Adam has himself so ably embodied throughout his ministry, and sought to cultivate in others.

  • Publisher: IVP
  • ISBN: 978-1-84474-547-0
  • Pages: 225
  • Price: 11.99
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Book Review

Serving God’s Words

Ed Paul A Barker et al

IVP

225 pages, £11.99

ISBN: 978-1-84474-547-0

Star Rating: 4

 

Peter Adam is an Australian Anglican clergyman with a passion for expository preaching. He recently retired as Principal of Ridley College, Melbourne. This book was put together to mark the occasion. Each of the twelve chapters has been contributed by someone who has been influenced by Peter Adam.

It is a book for preachers. The first chapter considers how the Ten Commandments should be preached today. There then follow five chapters which look at Biblical models for preaching – Moses, the apostles in Acts, and Paul in some of his letters. Chapters 7 and 8 address the preacher’s devotional and ethical life, while the next two chapters discuss two preaching-related issues. The first of these is a thoughtful chapter by Peter Jensen on how to offer Biblically sound interpretations of contemporary disasters. In the other Michael Raiter questions whether there has been an overemphasis on unction, while not dismissing the notion entirely. The final two chapters highlight the lessons which can be learned from two historical examples – the sixteenth-century Anglican homilies, and Charles Simeon.

The underlying assumption guiding the entire book is summed up in the chapter by Allan Chapple: ‘authentic Christian ministry is to be grounded on and shaped by the apostolic message and models.’ David Jackman cautions against short-term measures which are a panic reaction to our contemporary situation. David Peterson reminds us that Spirit-led preaching is more than mere spontaneity: it is the leading of the Spirit through a lifetime of careful study. Graham Cole points out that a mediocre preacher with a godly character will achieve far more than a brilliant preacher who is careless about his life. Vaughan Roberts quotes Charles Simeon’s counsel: ‘Do not preach what you can tell, but what your people can receive.’

The book is consistently well written, and stimulates serious examination of our calling, even where we do not agree with every statement.

 

Jonathon Bayes,

Thirsk

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