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He seeks ‘to put you in the middle’ of the Bible’s narrative power

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–World-renowned Bible teacher and author John Phillips pointed Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary students to the power of Christ with a vivid exposition of Scripture in chapel messages Aug. 26-27 at the Wake Forest, N.C., campus.

Phillips spoke highly of the opportunity to preach at Southeastern. “It [is] a privilege to be here … this is a challenge to speak to a body of students because they all know more than you do,” Phillips joked. “Really, it is a great opportunity and I prize it.”

His sermons, full of imagery, passion and occasional humor, helped to convey a sense of having been present when biblical events took place.

“I use my imagination and create pictures,” Phillips said. “I try to paint a picture and put you right in the middle of it, take you to Calvary.”

Phillips also was quick to mention the importance of expounding the Word of God in one’s preaching, a theme of the master of divinity program at Southeastern.

“The Word is the authority of any preacher,” he said. “If you don’t preach the Word, then you may as well get out of the business. As [the Apostle] Paul said, ‘We preach Christ and Him crucified,’ and that’s the message. The book gives the authority to the message.”

Christ crucified is squarely what Phillips preached on Aug. 27, using Matthew 27 as his text. Phillips highlighted the personal, intimate nature of God to which believers have access through Christ now that the temple veil has been torn, a contrast to the careful regulations regarding entrance into the Holy of Holies before the Christ’s death.

“From then until now, He’s been saying, ‘Come on in! Tell me about your family. Tell me about school.’ Aren’t you glad you live on this side of the cross!” Phillips exclaimed.

He also used his sermon on Aug. 26 to illustrate the power of God, taking his text from the first three verses of the opening chapter of Hebrews.

Referring to verse 3, which states that Christ “upholds all things by the word of His power,” Phillips noted, “That’s the difference between Him and us, you see. Our words are only legislative. His words are not only legislative, they’re executive.”

He pointed to Genesis 1 to support his point, noting, “That’s what you have on the very first page of your Bible.”

Intratextual support was a common theme of Phillips’ sermons, revealing to students that before them was a man intimately familiar with the Word of God.

Allan Moseley, vice president for student services, realized this as well, encouraging students that they could follow in the path of Phillips by careful study of the Bible.

“This in no way minimizes Dr. Phillips’ talents,” Moseley said, “but what he has done, you can do also. It is a result of many, many hours spent in personal study of the Word of God. You can do that as well.”
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: EXPOSITORY SPEAKER.

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  • Kyle Smith