Freed to live through the death of another.

Preaching God


Toronto Pastors Fellowship

Pastors Delighting in God to the Glory of God Together

This coming Monday is the final monthly meeting of the Toronto Pastors Fellowship for the 2008-2009 season. While I’m sad that it will be over for the next several months, I can’t wait for Monday to come, because the paper will be great!

I’ve just had a chance to read over Pastor Darryl Dash’s paper on theocentric preaching; it is full of insights, challenges, and encouragements.

Here is a brief preview to whet your appetite for Monday’s meeting. In this section, Dr Dash is detailing the pitfalls and flaws of moralistic preaching, and showing how even sermons that are textually based may be ultimately moralistic.

In Scripture, obedience is always a response to the gospel. Application that is not rooted in gospel leads to pride if the listener succeeds, and defeatism if the listener does not. The law does not give us power to obey its commands; we need good news (the gospel), not just good advice. The Bible does contain commands, but these are always applications of the gospel.

Moralism can creep into how-to sermons (e.g. “Four Steps to Better Parenting”), but it can also creep into expositions of a text. For example, preaching the imperatives of Ephesians 4-6 will be moralistic unless we link the imperatives to the gospel described in Ephesians 1-3. God’s gift and his commands (theology and ethics) are always linked.

Make sure to join us on Monday morning at 10am to get the full paper, the Q&A, and all the blessings of fellowship. 

See you there!


  1. Gary Wearne

    Hi Julian,
    I’m glad that you are promoting thinking through this important issue. I shudder when people “expound” a passage and give some trite moralism that is no way related to the text. Yet you point out a trap that is even more easily fallen into – it’s not even due to sloppy ness. A failure to put the passage in it’s immediate context of the book.

    I pointed out recently how the preacher had used the text of Ephesians 2:10 as a launch pad to talk about good works which God prepared for us to do and then spoke of evangelism. My point to him is that what would have been more appropriate is to speak of the good works that Paul himself thought of in his letter – picked up clearly by the greek of 2:10 which is translated “to walk in”, a phrase used by Paul in 4:1 walk worthy .. in unity, 4:17 walk not in futility of mind, 5:2 walk in love, 5:8 walk in light [ holiness ] 5:16 walk in wisdom. These are the good works that Paul I believe is saying God has prepared beforehand for us to walk in. Is this not radical? The preacher could have at least refered to these and then spoke of other “good works” and that would have been more appropriate.Afte rall evangelism is something we all commend as good! Matt 28:16-20.
    Sadly too few commentaries make it clear about such argument in letters such as Ephesians. They sometimes deal with single verses but then fail to look at the letter or book as a unit.
    reflecting upon Ephesians would also challenge those that find predestination as irksome or troublesome – think of this, God not only saved you but he has prepared beforehand for us to do these great “works” unity in the Church, hmm, holiness, love, wisdom All one can say then is wow. The application is widespread me thinks.
    In Christ,

  2. Todd D

    Was having similar thoughts as I blogged this morning heading into this week’s message in Ephesians 4:1-10. I have been preaching through Ephesians for the past few months and there is no escaping how in the first three chapters Paul is setting up what he will say in chapters 4-6. While preaching the opening chapters I found myself dropping into the latter chapters constantly in anticipation of what he would say about living out this tremendous orthodoxy he was teaching them.

    Anyway, if it isn’t inappropriate to link here to my blog, check it out:

    By his grace,


  3. Julian Freeman


    Thanks for the input! There are so many examples of how the Bible interprets itself by literary context, canonical context, redemptive-historical context… it’s amazing! It’s wonderful to see the unity of Scripture in that sense, and the unity of thought within a given book. How great is the importance then, of taking all these things into account when we exegete and teach a text!


    Thanks for stopping by! I was glad to go and look through your messages on Ephesians. The more exposure I’ve had to Harvest churches in our area over the past little while (both Barrie and Oakville), the more I’ve been impressed with your faithfulness to the word and your commitment to building healthy Christians and healthy local churches. I saw that you registered for the Pastors Conference! That’s awesome! I can’t wait to meet you in person.

  4. Mark Hollingsworth

    Sounds like that Toronto Pastors Conference is a good one with some great preaching principles…as you brought out. I especially like and agree with your thoughts on the Bible interpreting itself over and over. Thanks for the post…some good thoughts and responses too.

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