Faithfully Preach God’s Word

“Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God…”
1 Peter 1:22-23


Jeremiah 23 (main sermon text)

Acts 2, 13 (Examples of New Testament sermons)

1 Peter 1:22-25 

Defining Preaching by What It Isn’t

I remember my the first “sermon” I ever preached. 

I had no idea what I was doing. I haven’t been able to find the notes. I am glad it wasn’t recorded.

I do remember the scripture from which I tried to preach. It was Zechariah chapter 8. I chose the text to try to cast a vision for our church to pursue renewal and growth. This was, I think about 14 years ago.

I can now see that I started with what I wanted to say to people and found a passage of scripture that I thought I could us to support my ideas for what  our church needed to do. Jeremiah warns against prophets or preachers who preach from a starting point of their own visions or dreams.

Preaching is not just presenting our personal convictions, even convictions faithfully held and based upon Scripture. Preaching starts with studying to understand what the Bible passage really means and how it should be applied. Most Christians will never and should never preach a formal sermon (James 3:1), but every Christian should be ready to give a defense of the reason for the hope that is in us, and to do so with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15). Even for those of us who will never preach to a crowd, we have to preach the word to ourselves. That means we read the Bible to know what it is saying. We should be careful not to go to the Bible with a conclusion already in mind. A healthy church requires members to read and study and leaders to read, study, teach, and preach the word faithful to what the word says. 

To the Glory of God

Our Scripture for next worship is Hebrews 13

The writer calls this a brief word of exhortation. 

 It took us four months. Four. Months.

I still feel like we barely skimmed the surface.

If this was him writing briefly, imagine how much more exhortation the writer thought his audience needed. Each time I came to this word, I was exhorted. Exhortation is more than teaching or encouragement. A sermon is an exhortation. A sermon urges us to take proper action and adopt proper attitudes. I am grateful that the Bible includes this book for a lesson on how to exhort, how to preach, how to explain or teach the Scripture while building in applications to how we should think, feel, and act.


“Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”
-Hebrews 13:20-21

This book is a lesson for how to read, teach, and preach the Bible. The writer in includes multiple exhortations to remember, obey, submit to and pray for our leaders. This is especially poignant as we are praying for leadership decisions as a church. As he began the letter with a proclamation of the supreme authority and glory of the Lord Jesus, he closes his letter with a plea for us to honor Christ and a prayer for Christ to be glorified in us. Since I was a child in this church.

I have always been impressed by this monument stone placed in the corner of our church’s worship hall. This is why we exist. To borrow from the catechism of our Presbyterian brothers and sisters, we are here to glorify God and enjoy him forever. That is the end to which this letter to the Hebrews was building and the end to which all of history is being driven. We live to glorify a God who created us and then became one of us. Jesus suffered, died, was buried, and rose again to make us fit to glorify and enjoy him forever. 



Let Your Kingdom Come.

Our Scripture reading for the sermon this Sunday will be from Hebrews 12:18-29.

The Hebrew word for earth is Adamah. This is remarkably and purposefully similar to the name given to the man, Adam, whom God created and placed in the garden. When we try to build anything, we try to tie it to the earth as firmly as possible. The earth is the firmest thing we encounter, and yet when God came down to the earth to give the law to Moses, it nearly tore the mountain apart. As Christ was hanging upon the cross, in his final moments, the earth again cried out in protest. When he returns again, everything that can be shaken will be undone and redone into an unshakable reality.

Our present bodies are a part of the planet as we are made from the dust of the earth in a real physical sense. We are made of the same stuff as this created reality, and still we know that there is something wrong with the creation. Romans 8 explains that the creation is groaning and waits for the revealing the new, redeemed order that Christ will bring at his return. Our bodies, our little pieces of this earth, also remind us that there needs to be more to come. Sin has corrupted the cosmos and death and decay can be prolonged by not escaped.

And so Jesus teaches us to pray, “Let your kingdom come and let your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Even the created heavens will be shaken at the return of Christ to bring the final fullness of his kingdom. In chapter 11 of Hebrews, we learned that the saints of old had a hope of this final city. John tells us more about the new, heavenly Jerusalem which will, on the last day, be united with this reality.

Jesus, when he came preaching the kingdom, loosed people from the power of sin and death to show us a glimpse of what that new reality will be like. When we pray for healing from sickness or for protection from earthly danger, we do so with an eye on the final deliverance when death is swallowed up in victory. Until that time, we keep praying and hoping, as Paul writes in Romans, “For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”

Calling Leaders in Faith

Much of the history of Campton has been lost. Our local courthouse, which housed many records, has burned… twice.

Much of our history has also been recovered and preserved through the work of many local volunteers and by the mercy of God. 

Our church was sent an important part of our history in 2009. We received a package from Connie Hoskins of Beaver Dam, KY which contained what appears to be the original church record book of Swift Camp Church, which was founded even before the town that would one day be called Campton, Kentucky. 

In the book, which was according the records therein, purchased by the church for $1.60, we find the original articles of confession of the church that would eventually become Campton Baptist Church. The leaders of that first church who signed the confession of faith are identified as the Elders William Boothe and John D. Spencer. Other founding leaders identified include C.M. Hanks and Elkanah Garrett, both serving as clerk.

Scriptures on Church Leadership Qualifications

1 Timothy 3:1-13

Titus 1:5-11

Today, we want to pray for the needs of our church and our community. These founding members of our church thought to organize and establish a church, even as they were just forming a town. This shows that they could not imagine a community in which there was not a church to proclaim the good news of Jesus and make disciples in his name. 

As we prepare for our worship together on Sunday, I encourage us to reflect on these scriptures that emphasize the characteristics of leaders in the church. Remember that we are seeking the help of a church member to lead us by example in these qualities that are all commended and many commanded to be the fruit of the Spirit in all men and women who would follow the Lord Jesus. 


Our First Confessions of Faith

The following are a lightly edited (for clarity) transcription of the original first 7 articles of faith for the Swifts Camp Church, from July 8th, 1848. These confirm the tradition of faith once and for all delivered unto the saints,  that we have received by grace and in which we hope to continue.


Of Scripture

On the Scriptures of the Old & New Testaments, believing them to be the infallible word of God & the only rule of faith & practice.


Of God

We believe in one true & living God, Father, Son, & Holy Ghost, but one God.


Of Human Sin

We believe in the fall of man in their federal head & that it has corrupted the whole of Adams posterity & the total inability of recovering himself, Either in part or in whole.


Of Salvation

We believe in the doctrine & Election according to the foreknowledge of God & we believe that only in the imputed Righteousness of Jesus Christ there is salvation.


Of Perseverance

We believe that the saints will finally persevere in grace to glory & not one of them will be finally lost.


Of the Resurrection

We believe that there will be a Resurrection of the dead, both of the just & unjust and that the happiness of the Righteous & the punishment of the wicked will be eternal.


Of the Church

We believe the Church of Jesus Christ to be a body of members that has witnessed their sins pardoned & have give(n) themselves to the Lord & to one another by professing their Christ & being Baptized by immersion by a Regular ordained Baptist Preacher, ordained by the laying on of the hand & a Prayer of two or more ordained Baptist preachers Chosen by the Baptist Church.


  • Hebrews 12:1-17 
  • Romans 12:21; Galatians 6:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:13
  • Romans 8:14-17; Galatians 4:5-7; Ephesians 4-6
  • Matthew 7:1-6; 11:27-30; 18:15-20
  • 1 Corinthians 5-6

Pursue Righteousness in Christ with Determination and Discipline.

A Fine Large Day…

My grandmother has a saying that when you have had a very productive day, “you had a fine large day.” Usually, this means that sleep and rest should come easy by the end of it. On the day I began writing this, I spend most of the day working to prepare the footings and other work to get ready for a new barn. According to my health monitor, I had logged over 30,000 steps and burned almost 6000 calories. I don’t know if that is  completely accurate, but the passage in Hebrews 12 resonated at the end of the day. The soreness and weakness in my body made me acutely aware that I was ready for rest, but also pleased at what has been accomplished. I think it helped me to frame the plan that God sets forth in his Word to pursue righteousness in Christ with determination and discipline.

The Example in Jesus

Our effort to pursue righteousness must come by the work of Jesus Christ and his Spirit within us. He is much more than just a positive example, but he is also a positive example. It is by keeping our focus on Jesus and his life of service and suffering and his death to show us the need for us to pursue personal righteousness. The command not to grow weary occurs directly several times ins the New Testament. It compares to the commands in the Old Testament to not be afraid. Death was the great fear before Jesus’ resurrection. To those who believe and trust in the resurrection, one of our greatest impediments remains weariness. 

The Adoption in Jesus

We are also told here in Hebrews and throughout the New Testament letters that we have come into God’s kingdom and are heirs, family members, because we are adopted in Jesus. We can expect to be treated as we would expect good fathers to treat their children. We can be expected to face difficulty because our Father wants us to be more mature and to know how much he loves us. When I make my children get out of the house and start working hard, they see it as punishment. It isn’t that I want to cause them discomfort, but I want them to be stronger. I want them to be stronger because I love them.

The Sabbath Rest in Jesus

The difficult work of doing good, pursuing righteousness in Christ, needs to be coupled with our time of Sabbath rest. This doesn’t just mean taking a break from doing good. No, the break also needs to be good. We need time to gather with the saints, our brothers and sisters in the church. We need to come together to hear their burdens and share our own. We need to be able to encourage one another with songs, with reading the word, and with trying to understand the word together. We do this to draw strength by the work of the Spirit. 

The Correction in Jesus

Our churches don’t always get this right. We probably haven’t been getting it right in our church. One of the ways God intends to discipline his children is through the work of the local church. If we refuse to confront. Jesus gives us the plan for church discipline in Matthew 18. Paul gives a long lesson on discipline within the church in his first letter to the Corinthians. One of the key reasons for church discipline given in 1 Corinthians comes back into focus here in Hebrews; sexual immorality. This was such a major issue in the New Testament church, it seems strange that we modern, western Christians think this is a new problem. This remains one of those issues we try to avoid as a church because it rightly makes us uncomfortable.

The result of not facing the issues in our own church is that we lose credibility with our neighbors. This is true for the whole church and for individual members inside the church. I would also suggest that we don’t want to remove the plank from our eye so that we can help the brother or sister with the specks in their eyes. We like the plank in our eye. If we don’t first deal with our own sin, then we will feel unequipped to help point people away from sin and toward Christ. The correction of sin within the church is one of the requirements for a church to be healthy. If we don’t hold kill our sin and help brothers and sisters kill their sin, then we are failing to “be the church.”