The picture above is one of the reasons that I am reading and blogging about Preaching and Preachers. I received this note today from a Kindergartner in our church. We too often forget that preaching impacts everyone in the church–even 5 year olds. As you can see, she wrote, “Dear Pastor, Thank you for preaching the God.” That is what Lloyd-Jones is trying to help us do better.
Lloyd-Jones turns from the personal preparation of the preacher (as a man growing in Christ), to the preparation of the actual sermon in Chapter 10, “The Preparation of the Sermon.” The importance of this topic cannot be overstated. As Lloyd-Jones explains, “Preaching prepares the way for all the other activities of a minister.” (199)
I appreciate how Lloyd-Jones shows a dependence on the Spirit of God for leading to a particular preaching text, while also strongly advocating series that preach through a book of the Bible. He not only advocates this dependence on the Spirit during normal seasons, but also during holidays when people’s hearts are more tender, or during exceptional times in the community like a great tragedy. “Though you may have planned out the greatest series of sermons the world has ever known, break into it if there is an earthquake! If you cannot be shaken out of a mechanical routine by an earthquake you are beyond hope!” (207)
Although Lloyd-Jones personally preferred regular preaching through a book of the Bible, he is eager to tie preachers back to the Word even when not preaching a series. “The matter should always be derived from the Scriptures, it should always be expository.” (210) One way to do this, is to ask questions in the preparation of the sermon. Why did he say that? Why did he say it in this particular way? “One of the first things a preacher has to learn is to talk to his texts. They talk to you, and you must talk to them. Put questions to them.” (215)
We do not want to be guilty of preaching our own theological pets or our own advice. We need to preach the Word of God! “I cannot overemphasize the importance of our arriving at the main thrust, the main message of our text. Let it lead you, let it teach you. Listen to it and then question it as to its meaning, and let that be the burden of your sermon.” (217)
Kindergartners can understand this. My little friend in our church family hit it right on the head: “Thank you for preaching the God.” I will only preach the true God as I preach His Word, His gospel. As the Apostle Paul exclaims, “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” (2 Timothy 4:1-2)
Source: Lloyd-Jones, D. Martyn. Preaching & Preachers: 40th Anniversay Edition. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011.