I am never more reminded of my weakness and God’s power than when I stand up in a pulpit to preach God’s Word. I remember one time that I preached in a small village outside of Juarez, Mexico and the congregation enthusiastically sang a song right before I stood up to preach: “The Messenger of God Is Coming.” It said something about how a message from God would now be given, and how the Bible would be opened and our hearts should be open too. I remember praying, “God, may it be Your message, not me.” I didn’t have anything to offer those dear people–and that was magnified in a culture and language not my own–but God sure did, in His Word.
I am only aware of two preachers who read my blog (the pastors I work with), so why would I decide to blog through a book on preaching, the classic Preaching and Preachers by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones?
First, I need it. As school started for 16 weeks at The Master’s Seminary this week where I received my M.Div, as the High Schoolers I work with as a Pastor of Family Ministries are starting a new school year, and as my own son starts Kindergarten–I realized that I needed the discipline of growing in preaching by sharing with you what I am learning each week. There are 16 chapters in Preaching & Preachers, so I see it as a semester of continuing education, and Lord willing growing in grace and knowledge in the proclamation of God’s Word.
Second, you need it. You may not be a preacher, but preaching does matter to you. You listen to preaching every Sunday. As has often been said, “As the pulpit goes, so goes the church.” If reading my musings from Lloyd-Jones’ Preaching & Preachers helps you listen to a sermon better, pray for your pastor more, or find a church that has this view of preaching the Bible, then it is time well spent. There will be blog posts on other topics now and then throughout the Fall as well, but after this 16 weeks of blogging through Preaching and Preachers I will go back to “blogging as usual.”
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones exclaims at the beginning of Chapter One, “The Primacy of Preaching,” that “the most urgent need in the Christian Church today is true preaching; and as it is the greatest and the most urgent need in the Church, it is obviously the greatest need of the world also.” (17)
This is a sweeping but true statement, just as true today as it was in 1969 when these lectures were first given at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. When we preach (and I would add even when we teach Bible studies, as I do more often than formal preaching), we need to derive our authority from the Scriptures so that we are meeting this most urgent need. As Lloyd-Jones explains, “While men believed in the Scriptures as the authoritative Word of God and spoke on the basis of that authority you had great preaching.” (21) If we truly believe that God’s Word is sufficient, that eternity is real, and that the Gospel is the power of God for salvation, then we will do all that we can to make sure that we are doing “true preaching.”
Lloyd-Jones gives the apostolic example of Peter and John healing a man at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple, which created great excitement and interest in receiving similar benefits. What did Peter do? “Peter again preaches and corrects them, and immediately draws their attention, as it were, from the miracle that he and John had just worked to the great truth concerning Christ and His salvation, which is so infinitely more important.” (29)
The church does many good things and in many good ways. I am involved in many of those programs, from missions to High School ministry to Awana to a Good News Club. These are all ways that we can “preach” the Gospel and God’s Word to both unbelievers and believers alike. But it starts in the pulpit. I am so thankful to be in a church where Gospel-centered, Bible-saturated sermons are expected and desired. As Lloyd-Jones said, “What is it that always heralds the dawn of a Reformation or of a Revival? It is renewed preaching. Not only a new interest in preaching but a new kind of preaching.” (31) By God’s grace, may we be found faithful at the church’s most urgent need–true preaching.
Source: Lloyd-Jones, D. Martyn. Preaching & Preachers: 40th Anniversay Edition. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011.