Clearing the Fog from the Pulpit to the Pew:
Effective Expository Preaching.
Low, Alvin A. (2000). Colorado: ACTS International.  152 pp.

     The author is an "excellent communicator" (p.7) whose passion is to inspire men and women of God to preach expository sermons.  Dr Low firmly believes that the "pulpit must remain a place where the Word of God is proclaimed authoritatively.  We preach because of our Master, our message, and our mandate" (p.29).  His book is written to provide a resource companion on the principles and practice of homiletics for pastors and Christian leaders including lay leaders. The claim that the book is "devoted to effective communication of God's Word" (p.9) is substantiated with valid proofs.  Dr Low was awarded the H.A. Ironside Award for being the most outstanding preacher of the year in 1982 at Dallas Theological Seminary in the United States. Besides his scholastic achievement, he has been practising and teaching the art of expository preaching for more than fifteen years in different countries around the globe as a pastor, preacher and seminary educator. The book was recently translated into Bulgarian. 
     The content of the book is presented in a unique style as that of a course syllabus. With a little imagination, readers will have that sense of being transported into a classroom-like setting assimilating and actively engaging in interacting with the author on the development of expository sermons.  The course instructions are clear, simple yet profound.  From the initial stage of selecting a biblical text, deriving a central subject, formulating a clear purpose, idea, structure to the eventual delivery of the message, the process is logical and lively. Dr Low's sense of humour makes the reading of the text enjoyable. For example, painting the different kinds of sermons, he describes the "butterfly sermons" as "wandering sermons flying from one verse to another without stopping long enough for people to catch the butterfly!"  Examples, illustrations, anecdotes and samples of sermon outlines given at the different stages make the learning exploratory and purposeful in assessing areas to "clear the fog" and habits to inculcate if one is serious about effective preaching.  Readers will also find useful tips on "Evaluating Speakers," "Introducing and Thanking Speakers," "Personal Video Tape Review" and other useful tools in the appendices for the pulpit ministry.
     The book is valuable for teaching and training in the making of effective preachers of expository sermons.  With the understanding that expository preaching is the "effective communication of the central idea of a biblical text" (p.35), the one caution given is that his "students" should have had a course on hermeneutics, the principles of biblical interpretation to achieve the intended goal of preparing expository sermons.  The pulpit ministry is a "serious business" and the requirement is necessary because,
     All week long our people hear the words of man.  They have been immersed in the news of war, racial crisis, political intrigue, economic unrest, and other national international traumas.  Is it unwarranted to expect that when they come to church on Sunday they will hear a unique word from God?  Does not the preacher dabble in foolishness and secondary utterances when he simply describes what they hear all week long? Preaching's unique claim to a hearing is that is a word from God, a word revealed in the Word of God.  Indeed, it is a word of hope (quoted Baumann (p.29).     
(Review by Dr Ng Peh Cheng)


Nebuchadnezzar's
Amazing Letter

     Daniel Chapter 4 is a wonderful story about the mighty King Nebuchadnezzar, conqueror of many countries, being driven away from people in insanity, eating grass and getting drenched with dew. Poor Nebuchadnezzar.  In that sad state he could no longer do the things he liked, like conquering countries, massacring people, burning down towns, and cutting people into pieces.
     But why did such a powerful man write a letter to "the peoples, nations and men of every language who live in all the world" about his demotion from emperorhood, not to become Robin Hood but to enter "animalhood"?  Would you write a letter to tell the whole world that you had been chastised and humiliated by God because of your arrogance?  So why did Nebuchadnezzar?
     The clue is in Daniel 4:2. There, he says, "It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me."  Hmmm…"miraculous signs and wonders", now where have we heard that expression before?  Didn't Moses use it in Exodus 7:3, Deuteronomy 4:34, 6:22, 7:19, 26:8 29:3 and 34:11?  Didn't the Levites use it in Nehemiah 9:10?  The Psalmists Asaph and David used it in Psalms 78:43 and 105:27.  And Jeremiah used it in Jeremiah 32:20 & 21.  What a coincidence!  Was this an expression used by the people of God in talking about Him?  After all, Jesus used it (John 4:48), and so did Peter (Acts 2:22) and Luke (Acts 5:12).  If "miraculous signs and wonders" is an expression used by believers in God, what does that make Nebuchadnezzar?
     Was it just a casual use of an expression he had heard someone, perhaps Daniel, use? Let's look at the next verse.  Daniel 4:3 says that Nebuchadnezzar then broke into poetry:

"How great are his (God's) signs,
how mighty his wonders!"  [NIV]

     Actually, what is translated "signs" by the NIV is translated "miraculous signs" in 4:2 and elsewhere.  So, as if to confirm that he knew the implication of what he was saying, and to leave no doubt that he was not using the expression unwittingly, Nebuchadnezzar used it again in expanded form.  Doesn't that clearly mean that Nebuchadnezzar had become a believer in the God of Daniel?
     Speaking of Daniel, when Nebuchadnezzar ordered that young Israelite noblemen be taken into captivity in Babylon, was Daniel (which means "God is my judge") not renamed Belteshazzar (which means "Bel protects his life!") as a daily reminder that Bel and not El, or Elohim, now protected Daniel?  Now, have you noticed how every time Nebuchadnezzar mentions Daniel in quotation marks, in his spoken words, he called him "Belteshazzar"?  But every time he mentioned Daniel in the written, not spoken, parts of his letter he always called him Daniel?  Why?
     When were Nebuchadnezzar's words spoken?  Was it not long ago, before his insanity?  When was Nebuchadnezzar's letter written?  After he regained his sanity?  So back to the question "Why?"  Was it not because Nebuchadnezzar had become a believer of God when he wrote his letter and no longer wanted to convert Daniel to the worship of Bel?
Quite so.  For Nebuchadnezzar went on to say, "At the end of that time (of God's chastisement), I Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes towards heaven and my sanity was restored.  Then I praised the Most High; I honoured and glorified him who lives forever" (4:34).  Wait a second, he praised, honoured and glorified the Most High?  Does that not sound like what a believer of God would do?  In case there was any doubt about this, Nebuchadnezzar says just three verses down : "Now, I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven" (4:37), i.e. one God, instead of the many gods he worshipped before.
     So, Nebuchadnezzar had become a believer of God and was telling the whole world how it came about that he believed in this one God.  What does that make his letter, if not a testimony of his conversion?  Isn't Nebuchadnezzar's letter the first written testimony in the Bible?

     Last Wednesday's Chapel was a time of worship led by Dr Quek Swee Hwa, who emphasized the need to pay close attention to the exegesis of hymns and choruses.
     Chapel speaker for this Wednesday (17 Jul) will be Dr Roland Tan, National Director of Campus Crusade Asia Limited. Next week's chapel speaker will be resident lecturer, Dr Philip Satterthwaite, who has returned in end June 2002 from his sabbatical.

  1. BIBLICAL BASIS OF MISSIONS BY REV DR DAVID HARLEY will commence next Friday, 26 Jul, 7.30-9.30pm at Rm 302. If you are interested in this course, please call Dr John Lim at 90094708.

  2. NEW TESTAMENT GREEK: BASIC RESEARCH TOOLS AND METHODS (BG214).
    For those of you in the SATURDAY CLASS, kindly note that the class will be held at Room 206 instead of Room 302 due to the group size. Lecture 2 will be held next Saturday, 27 July, from 5.30-7pm.
    For those of you in the THURSDAY CLASS, kindly note that the 1st lecture has been postponed to 25 July due to unforeseen circumstances. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

  3. CONDOLENCE. We would like to extend our heartfelt sympathy to Mr David Chan Chee Chung and his family members on the demise of his mother, Mdm Chow Foon Oi, last Sunday.
  4. DTC STUDENTS will be visiting BGST library on 22 July, between 10am - 1pm for an orientation.

Wishing you God's blessings on your Birthday!
Mr Tan Eng Beng  15/7
Mr Andrew Lee Boon Hui  16/7
Dr Toh See Kiat  20/7
Mr Collin See Soon Huat  21/7

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This page is updated on 17 Jul 2002 by Leong Kok Weng
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