Do the Text to the Hearer – Notes from a Presentation by Pastor Donavon Riley

Pastor Donavon Riley spoke to the Northern Illinois District South Region Pastors Conference in September of 2013. Here are the notes I took from his presentation on Preaching to the Bound Will. These are my notes and may/not accurately reflect Pr. Riley’s lectures.

  • The bound will is a Peeping Tom.
  • Forgiveness is the power the Law does not have.
  • The Preaching Office is His choice to establish, not yours.
  • You’re baptized. Now what? The Old Man gets preached to death. (Romans 6 [Baptism] -> Romans 7 [Die daily to sin])
  • The Third Function of the Law instructs man to death.
  • We don’t tell God who He is, He tells us.
  • The fundamental problem today in theology is that it throws faith back to the individual.
  • The grammar of justification: 1. God is the Subject, 2. Sinners are the Objects. 3. No conditions -> No ifs or buts (Unconditional promise), 4. Right application of pronouns -> FOR YOU. (Present tense pronouns).
  • The Law wants you to do the Law without the Law.
  • Every Sunday’s sermon is a funeral sermon. Your people are dead people. Now what? Live in your vocation and thank God for your neighbor.
  • Suffering is the sinners’ problem with the death of Jesus. The sinner doesn’t want to believe it.
  • Christ must be preached to real, actual, historical sinners. Be a know-nothing. Preach Christ (1 Corinthians 4).
  • Chesed (חסד) means faithful loving-kindness. It is not if -> then, but because -> therefore.
  • God in Christ is too near to those who try to be “good Christian people”.
  • The witness of Christ will not be silent. The Church’s witness to Christ is the Holy Spirit.
  • If you preach to free wills, you bind them. If you preach to bound wills, you free them.
  • The thing that makes Lutheran preaching Lutheran preaching is the preaching of Christ FOR YOU.
  • God only wants to be revealed and preached in Jesus Christ and what He says and does FOR YOU.
  • The point of Christianity for Pietists is “What are you doing?”
  • Non-Lutheran communions believe that human beings, the human soul, is not dead. The will can “climb the ladder” to help God in salvation. Sin is a sickness. Grace is the medicine. You restored to health can go your merry way.
  • You don’t talk about being cursed. You talk about being a curse.
  • Every pastor secretly believes he is a fraud.
  • When Eve ate the fruit, she fell upward.
  • Bound will: I want what I want when I want it. ANARCHISM. You don’t want a Creator, you want to be a creator.
  • God’s wrath feels like free will.
  • When someone is forgiven, we don’t sing “In the Garden”.
  • I do nothing for my justification because I know nothing but Jesus Christ and receive everything by faith in Christ.
  • Repentance is the death rattle of a corpse.
  • Do the text to the hearer.
  • What happened when God’s Word when out to His hearers? What disturbed the Word in the text? What is the resistance? What did God do to these sinners? Law -> Gospel/Resistance -> Promise
  • Take away all choices in preaching. Whittle it down. Give man no opportunity to claim anything for himself. KILL HIM! Then preach him back to life by proclaiming what God has done for them. Again, no choices. PROCLAIM MONERGISM!


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