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  • - Our Father, we thank you that you've gathered so many people here to learn how

  • to understand your word and learn of your word, learn how to communicate your word

  • here at this Gospel Coalition conference this year. Thanks for bringing us here

  • safely. Thanks for the innumerable interactions that strengthen our hearts,

  • strengthen our relationships, strengthen our ties with you and with each other.

  • Thanks for the instruction that's going on right now, especially. I pray not only for

  • us here, but for all the workshops, that you would help us to stir each other up to

  • love and good works, iron sharpening iron, learning, having the word of God dwell on

  • us richly. We pray that this would happen in all these various workshops and

  • classes. We ask it in Jesus' name. Amen.

  • Okay. I'm glad to be with you. This is supposed to be a workshop. Isn't that a

  • laugh, with this many people? However, I'm going to do this. I'm going to give you a

  • talk, a lecture, and then, even though only a very tiny percentage and probably

  • the most pathologically extroverted of you will have an opportunity to ask questions.

  • We will have some mics up front. There's quite a lot of you, and the ones who want

  • to ask questions should, because it's just so boring to listen to somebody talk for

  • an hour. I want you to be able to drill down on some things that you hear

  • and get a little more information.

  • So preaching to the heart, the subject. Alec Motyer, in his great little book,

  • "Preaching?" Alec Motyer is an Old Testament scholar and an expository

  • preacher. He's British or Irish, I think. He's, I think, in his 90s now and written

  • a great little book on expository preaching.

  • In the book, he says this. He says that "preachers have not one, but two

  • responsibilities, First to the truth, and secondly to the particular group of people

  • in front of you. How will they best hear the truth? How are we to shape and phrase

  • it, so it comes home to them in a way that is palatable, that gains the most

  • receptive hearing and avoids needless hurt?"

  • So what Motyer says is if you want to be- If you're a communicator of the

  • Bible, you've got two responsibilities. You've got a responsibility to the truth,

  • to hold it up, to present it accurately, to make sure you're expanding the text,

  • but you also have a responsibility to the people. You need to give them the truth in

  • a way that changes them, that, as he puts it, that you give them the truth in a way

  • they can best hear it, in a way that it can most shape and phrase. You can shape

  • and phrase it so that it comes home to them.

  • Now, if this is the case, and I think it is, most of our teaching and most of our

  • books on preaching and exposition are fairly unbalanced. Almost always, the

  • books give almost all the time is dedicated to how do you expound the text,

  • how do you understand the truth.

  • There might be a chapter on application or a chapter on preaching to the heart, but

  • even though Alec Motyer rightly says you basically have two tasks, be true to the

  • truth and be true to the people that are in front of you, we actually don't spend

  • that much time talking about how do you bring the truth home in a way that

  • actually changes lives.

  • It's one of the reasons why an awful lot of our expository preaching isn't very

  • life-changing. There's not a great deal of- There really isn't a lot of great

  • stuff written about how to preach to the heart.

  • Sinclair Ferguson has a chapter in the book, "Feed My Sheep." There's a book

  • called "Feed My Sheep: Passionate Plea for Preaching." It's an older book, good

  • book. Sinclair's got a chapter in there called "Preaching to the Heart."

  • Sam Logan has a book, pardon me, has a chapter in the book, "The Preacher and

  • Preaching." This is very confusing, by the way. Lloyd Jones wrote a book called

  • "Preaching and Preachers," but there was also a book put together by Westminster

  • Seminary faculty, back in the 1980s, called "The Preacher and Preaching." In

  • that book, Sam Logan wrote a chapter called "The Phenomenology of Preaching,"

  • which is basically on preaching to the heart.

  • There's a new book by Josh Moody and Robin Weeks, called "Preaching to the Heart, " I

  • think, or "Preaching to the Affections," I think it's called. But by and large, we

  • haven't spent much time on it.

  • Now, so I would like to give you an overview of why it's important to preach

  • to the heart and how you do it. I'm gonna probably constantly be thinking about,

  • because I am, I'm gonna be constantly thinking about working preachers who are

  • preaching every Sunday, but this is- What I'm about to tell you, I hope, is

  • gonna fit anybody who communicates the Bible, whether you teach the Bible, lead

  • Bible studies, teach, preach. I think this should be broadly applicable in many ways.

  • So just a couple ideas on why it's important to preach to the heart. The

  • biblical understanding of heart is just unique in human thought. The Greeks and

  • the Romans, the ancients, understood that the passions were connected to the body,

  • but the mind, the reason, and the will were connected to the soul.

  • Basically they believed that virtue was a matter of, literally, mind over matter.

  • That is, if you wanted to be a person of loyalty, if you wanted to be a person of

  • courage, if you wanted to have any virtue at all, what it meant was you stifled the

  • emotions. The reason needed to control the emotions, and that was a virtuous person.

  • So the ancients always pitted the thinking and the feelings against each other, and

  • the thinking needed to squelch and keep down the feelings. That's what produced a

  • virtuous person. However, on the other hand, modern thought has reversed that. We

  • live in what Charles Taylor calls the Age of Authenticity, and we believe that the

  • most important thing is that you look into your heart and see what your deepest

  • feelings are and your deepest desires and dreams, and you fulfill them.

  • So we do the same thing today, in our modern society. We now, however, have

  • reversed things. It's your feelings that are the true you. The ancient Greeks and

  • the Romans thought your feelings was the false you. They had to do with your body.

  • They weren't the true you. They weren't part of the spirit.

  • So they pitted mind versus the feelings. Modern people do that too, except they

  • reverse it. You have to let it go. You can't hold it back anymore. I've been told

  • all my life, I mustn't feel. I have to conceal. All right. Right? That would be a

  • great song. Wouldn't it? Three billion people would hear me sing that on YouTube.

  • In other words, we have always pitted, you might say, the mind and the emotions.

  • It used to be the mind was more important than emotions. Today, the emotions are

  • more important than the mind. The Bible's understanding of the heart is completely

  • different, and it's not halfway in the middle. It's off the charts.

  • Why? As you have often heard, and I mentioned this yesterday, the biblical

  • understanding of the heart is that the heart is the seat, not so much of the

  • emotions, but it is the seat of what you trust the most, what you are committed to

  • the most. Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Proverbs 3. Where your treasure is,

  • there is your heart. Matthew 6.

  • What we're talking about is the thing or the things that you most trust in, hope

  • in, the things that most capture your imagination, that you face, the center of

  • your attention, the center of your commitments, your main commitments.

  • Whatever those things are affect your mind, your will, and your emotions. So

  • whatever your heart trusts in the most affects not only your emotions. It also

  • affects your thinking.

  • So in some ways, the heart is the seat of the mind, the will, and the emotions

  • because it's coming from the trusts. This is the reason why, when St. Augustine

  • wrote "The Confessions," it was like a bomb dropped. No one in history had ever

  • seen anything like the book of "The Confessions."

  • The reason is because St. Augustine was spending his time looking at his past and

  • figuring out his emotions. So in the past, in ancient times, nobody ever spent any

  • kind of time thinking about your emotions. Emotions were things to be ignored or to

  • be squelched. Here's Augustine, sifting them. Now many people have said Augustine,

  • therefore, was the first modern person, but yes and no. There's a long story

  • there. Because today, we don't do what Augustine

  • was doing either. Augustine was being biblical because he was saying, "No, you

  • don't squelch the emotions or ignore them. On the other hand, you don't just vent the

  • emotions and express them. You sift the emotions. You evaluate the emotions, and

  • then you redirect the emotions toward God."

  • It's not like the emotions and the heart. Because obviously, by the way, the heart

  • does include emotions. It's not less than the emotions. It's more, but it's not

  • less. Emotions are not great, and they're not terrible. They're not unimportant.

  • They're not all important. They need to be directed toward God.

  • What that means is what you really are is basically what you love the most. Using

  • the word love here is not just an emotion. Essentially it's not your beliefs, at

  • least not the beliefs you subscribe to, that actually makes you what you are. It's

  • what your heart trusts in, what your heart loves the most.

  • You can say, "I believe in God. God is this, and God is this, and God is this."

  • Yeah, your heart is basically based in your career. We all know how that works.

  • Your heart is actually trusting in career. Your mind is saying, "No, no, no. I trust

  • in Jesus for my salvation. I trust in Jesus for this and that and all. " But

  • where is your heart?

  • Jonathan Edwards, who was a great Augustinian, therefore, said that if

  • you're gonna be thoroughly biblical, you must not pit knowledge and feeling against

  • each other. If you say, "I know I should be generous with my money, but I'm just

  • not doing it," he would say, "Well, there's a sense in which you know what you

  • should do, but you're not doing it, but there's another sense in which you don't

  • really know what you should do." Let me give you an example. Excuse me. I'm

  • better than I was yesterday, but not as better as I'd like it to be. When I was a

  • pastor in Virginia, many years ago, I had a young girl in my church. She was about

  • 15 years old, I guess.

  • She was discouraged. She was depressed, often. At one point, the family was a

  • prominent family in the church. I tried to help the family with her. At one point,

  • she came into my study, and we were talking. Being a young minister, I was a

  • little bit naive, and I said, "How are you?" She was downcast.

  • I said, "Well, you're a Christian. Aren't you?" "Oh, yes. I'm a Christian."

  • "Christians have many blessings. Don't they?" "Oh, yes. We do." So we counted

  • the blessings a little bit, about the great things that, as a Christian, she

  • could count on and she knew was happening there and all those

  • great things in her life.

  • But at one point, I said, "So you're still depressed." She said... I tried to

  • encourage her, but here's what she said, almost literally, "Yes. I know that Jesus

  • loves me. I know he saved me, and I know he's gonna take me to Heaven. But what

  • good is all that when not a single boy at school will even look at you?"

  • I don't know why more of you aren't laughing at that. What she was saying was,

  • "Yeah, I'm saved. Yes, I'm going to Heaven forever. Yes, I'm a daughter of the king.

  • Yes, I'm gonna be glorified. I'm justified, sanctified, glorified, and all

  • that. But you know what? I'm in ninth grade, tenth grade, and there's not a

  • single boy will ask me out."

  • Now, here's what Jonathan Edwards would say. He would say she had the opinion that

  • God loved her, but she had no real knowledge that God loved her, because the

  • love of boys was more real to her heart than the love of God, or she wouldn't have

  • been depressed. So in one sense, you could say what she

  • just needed to be told... Well, what did she need to be told? See, what Edwards

  • would say is she needed to be shown the love of God in such a way that it began to

  • get more real to her heart, and it began to balance out how popular

  • she was or unpopular she was.

  • Some years ago . . . One more before I talk about how to do it. Some years ago,

  • I had a relative who never would wear a seat belt. Every time I

  • talked to him, he would get in the car, and he wouldn't wear his seat belt, and we

  • all would nag him about wearing a seat belt. All right. He put his seat belt on.

  • One day, we went to see him. He got in the car and put his seat belt on right away.

  • We said, "What happened to you?" He said, "Well, " he said, "I went to a friend of

  • mine. A couple weeks ago, I went to see a friend of mine in the hospital. He was in

  • a car crash, and he went through the windshield. He had like 200 stitches in

  • his face. For some strange reason, ever since then,

  • I've been having no problem buckling up."

  • I talked to him a little bit about that. What was interesting going on was I said,

  • "Well, did you get new information? What changed you? Did you not know that people

  • go through the windshield? What happened was an abstract proposition became

  • connected to an actual sensory experience, that is something he saw.

  • There's some place where Jonathan Edwards, the whole idea behind preaching to the

  • heart. At some point, where Jonathan Edwards says, "It's only when you attach.

  • It's only when you actually attach an abstract truth to some kind of sensory

  • experience that you've had, or at least the memory of a sensory experience that

  • you've had" I'm gonna show you how to do this in a second.

  • Something that you know is true becomes real to you. The point of preaching to the

  • heart is to take abstract truth and to make it real to people's heart,

  • so that they are changed.

  • A lot of us would like it if people took notes from our sermons or our talks, and

  • then went out into the world and started to change their life. But what I'm telling

  • you is, Jonathan Edwards never spoke that much about preaching. But in one of his

  • books, "Thoughts on Revival," he actually says about preaching that preaching does

  • not change you by giving people information, that then they go out and

  • practice as much as. It changes you through the impression

  • it's made during the sermon.

  • What he means is this. If that girl is sitting under preaching, that 16-year-old

  • girl who's, by the way, probably in her 50s now, but anyway, that 16-year-old girl

  • is sitting under preaching, and the love of God, through Jesus Christ, in a sermon,

  • becomes so vividly real to her and starts to affect her. We're talking about the

  • affections. It starts to penetrate to the heart.

  • She starts to say, "Why am I all that upset about whether this or that stupid

  • boy like me or not, when I've got this kind of love?" When that sort of thing

  • starts happening in her heart, she's being changed on the spot. She's being changed

  • during the sermon. She's being changed because the preaching

  • has reached her heart.

  • So as Alec Motyer said- I started the talk this way. What Alec Motyer is trying to

  • say, it's not enough for you to take a text and say, "Okay. I need to show that

  • this text teaches that Jesus Christ sacrificed for us and loved us with a

  • costly love." That's the text. It's not enough just to

  • say, "I need to expound that accurately. " I need to bring that home to people's

  • hearts in such a way that it changes them in the seats. So their hearts are affected

  • by it, and the other things that are more real to their heart than the love of Jesus

  • become. Jesus' love starts at this place.

  • So that's what I mean by preaching to the heart. How do you do it? Let me suggest,

  • believe it or not - Oh, boy. I'm gonna be fast. You can ask

  • questions. In fact, you're gonna complain afterwards because you need more

  • information about everything I'm about to tell you, but we only have an hour. This

  • is the best we can do.

  • But I would say, in order to preach to the heart, you need to preach culturally,

  • affectionately, imaginatively, practically, wondrously, and

  • Christocentrically. Okay. So there's two ways to go from here. One is to do an hour

  • on each of these, but probably I can't. So the other is to do just

  • a few minutes on each of these.

  • Okay. What do I mean by culturally?

  • Let's just say if you're evangelical parents,

  • and you've got a 14 or 15-year-old boy or girl, and one day, you're talking to them,

  • and suddenly the 15-year-old girls says to you this, says, "You know, I'm not really

  • sure there's anything really wrong with two people having sex if they really love