Tuesday 23 April 2019

Preaching with passion and emotion

This current focus on my blog is about preaching. There seems so much to say. I am not putting myself forward as an expert, but as a minister my primary task is that of preaching the written Word, twice every Lord's Day. That means that ministers must be committed to the primacy of preaching theologically, but also the primacy of preaching in their weekly schedule, preparation and time management. That is perhaps a different subject.

My concern is that in the preaching that I hear in conservative circles, sometimes it can be dry and technical and with little emotion. It may be that people think that theology and emotion must not go together, but the very opposite is true. True theology must impact the heart and mind and therefore theological preaching must affect the preachers affections.

In reading Luke's Gospel after the resurrection of Jesus here are a range of emotions experienced by the disciples, both men and women.

24:4 "they were perplexed".
24:5 "as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground".
24:12 "[Peter] went home marvelling at what had happened".
24:22 "Some women from our company amazed us".
24:32 They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?".
24:37 But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit".
24:41 "And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marvelling ... ".
24:52 And they worshipped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy".

Perhaps we read the scriptures and do not allow the emotions of the people in the Bible to shine through. We are not talking about emotional excesses, something to be avoided. In the last two decades there has arisen an academic school of men who have begun to criticise the preaching of George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards and to begin to pin all kinds of blame at their feet. It is as if these well meaning but mis-guided academics consider that emotionless preaching is of value. It is not.

Whitefield and Edwards are two worthy preachers in the history of the preach. Oh that the Lord would raise up such preachers again. Men with rock solid doctrine and rock solid theology, but with hearts aflame for Christ. we need preachers with emotion and passion in the pulpit. Whitefield would speak of the church's need for a "felt Christ". Martyn Lloyd-Jones would write of preaching being "logic on fire" or "theology on fire". We need it in our day; pulpits aflame with the tender love of Christ and warm emotion being poured out on the substance of Bible exposition! Amen.

Monday 15 April 2019

"Preaching and Preachers" by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

1 Thessalonians 1:4-5 "For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake".

The subject of preaching is as vital for the church, as it is interesting. I would love these blog posts to cause a lively interest in the matter of preaching. There is a lack of true preaching and worse still there is a lack of desire for hearing true preaching. Preaching is the means by which the Lord has always primarily used to advance the church. Therefore the more we understand about it the better.

I myself am a preacher and I feel I have so much to learn. Want to be a better preacher and I lament the poverty of my own preaching currently and I would love to know something of the anointing of God in a fuller way when preaching. Paul reminds the Thessalonians of five marks of the preaching they heard at the first:

1. Our Gospel
2. Came not only in word
3. But in power.
4. And in the Holy Spirit
5. With full conviction (with fulness)

One of the classic books on preaching in print today, by a preaching maestro is "Preaching and Preachers". May I exhort all preachers to read this book or to read it again if you did so years ago. I am currently going through it again.

Chapter 6 is a "must-read" for those who are considering the ministry. Lloyd-Jones (MLJ) clearly does not believe in lay-preachers because the task is too important, I agree. MLJ explains in the first few chapters not only about the primacy of preaching but that there are two aspects to preaching: The preparation of the sermon and the delivery of the sermon. The two are distinct but obviously related.

Above all else, may we pray for Holy Spirit empowered preaching, a recovery of the sermon and the centrality of the pulpit in the church and full churches that honour the preaching of the Word of God. Let us also pray for the next generation of preachers in line with command of Jesus. Matthew 9:37-38 'Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest" '.

Wednesday 10 April 2019

Preaching that gets through!

Preaching that gets through is a vital subject to consider. We need orthodox preaching that is filled with sound doctrine, but it needs to get through to the hearers. The church is not simply about the process of, as it were simply communicating the truth, but in communicating the truth in a way that the truth gets through to the hearers. There are several points that are necessary for this to happen. I am a preacher and I am aware that I need to constantly work at my preaching, its delivery and its preparation as well.

However, a key question I need to ask myself after preaching is: Did the message get through to the hearers? They should not be bored during the delivery or distracted by unnecessary comments or be side-tracked by irrelevancies made by me during the delivery. Of course we need the assistance and help of the Holy Spirit.

And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Preaching is more than a human task and listening also requires diligence as well. From the preachers part we need to constantly evaluate if our preaching is getting through and if not, to ask the honest question: why not? Am I as a preacher needing to adapt my style, to pray more earnestly for the preaching or to make wholesale changes? The last thing we want is to bore people in the act of preaching?

I find this topic a searching one. A key question for me is: why does some preaching get through to people and some does not? I am willing to learn, so If you have comments on this matter, please make a comment on this blog to help me to improve by God's grace as a preacher.