Posts Tagged ‘preaching’

Below are two videos available for a limited time on YouTube that you will not want to miss.  Both videos feature Martin Lloyd-Jones, the great English preacher who has had a reasonable influence on the pastors at Trinity Church.  In the first video Lloyd-Jones does a biography of Anglican evangelist George Whitefield.  In the second video Lloyd-Jones conducts an interview on what it means to be called to preach.  I don’t know when these will be taken down so enjoy them soon!

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latimer1Hugh Latimer, Anglican Bishop and Oxford Martyr, below extols the benefits of preaching long, deep, Gospel centered sermons.  It was common for him to preach TWO hour long sermons every Sunday, thoroughly reformed in content.  When I read some of the great Anglican theologians and preachers of the past I wonder how we arrived with some of the unBiblical, short, shallow, humanistic “deep thoughts” of so many Anglican sermons today. 

“the preaching of the word of God unto the people is called meat: scripture calleth it meat; not strawberries, that come but once a year, and tarry not long, but are soon gone: but it is meat, it is no dainties. The people must have meat that must be familiar and continual, and daily given unto them to feed upon. Many make a strawberry of it, ministering it but once a year; but such do not the office of good prelates. For Christ saith, Quis putas est servus prudens et fidelis? Qui dat cibum in tempore. “Who think you is a wise and a faithful servant? He that giveth meat in due time.” So that he must at all times convenient preach diligently: therefore saith he, “Who trove ye is a faithful servant?” He speaketh it as though it were a rare thing to find such a one, and as though he should say, there be but a few of them to find in the world. And how few of them there be throughout this realm that give meat to their flock as they should do, the Visitors can best tell. Too few, too few; the more is the pity, and never so few as now.”

-Hugh Latimer, Sermon on the Plough, Jan 18, 1548

Unfortunately, too much of the preaching we come across these days does not even have the merit of attempting a faithful exposition of the Scriptures, as these preceding methods do.

When John Calvin was asked to respond to Cardinal Sadoleto as to why Geneva was irretrievably Protestant, the Reformer included this indictment of the state of preaching before the Reformation:

Nay, what one sermon was there from which old wives might not carry off more whimsies than they could devise at their own fireside in a month? For as sermons were usually then divided, the first half was devoted to those misty questions of the schools which might astonish the rude populace, while the second contained sweet stories and amusing speculations by which the hearers might be kept awake. Only a few expressions were thrown in from the Word of God, that by their majesty they might procure credit for these frivolities.
Calvin then contrasts this former way of preaching with the Reformation approach to Scripture:

First, we bid a man to begin by examining himself, and this not in a superficial and perfunctory manner, but to cite his conscience before the tribunal of God, and when sufficiently convinced of his iniquity, to reflect on the strictness of the sentence pronounced on all sinners. Thus confounded and amazed at his misery, he is prostrated and humbled before God; and, casting away all self-confidence, groans as if given up to final perdition. Then we show that the only haven of safety is in the mercy of God, as manifested in Christ, in whom every part of our salvation is complete. As all mankind are, in the sight of God, lost sinners, we hold that Christ is their only righteousness, since, by His obedience, He has wiped off our transgressions; by His sacrifice, appeased the divine anger.
The Genevan Reformer goes on to ask the Cardinal what problem he has with that. It is probably, says Calvin, that the Reformation way of preaching is not “practical” enough; that it doesn’t give people clear directions for daily living and motivate them to a higher life. Nevertheless, the Reformers all believed that the preacher is required to preach the text, not to decide on a topic and look for a text that can be pressed into its service. And the text, said they, was aimed not at offering heroes to emulate (even Jesus), but at proclamation of God’s redemptive act in the person and work of the God-Man.

Who couldn’t find in Calvin’s description of medieval preaching something of the contemporary situation? In many of the church growth contexts, once more the sermon is not given the central place liturgically and the sermon itself often reveals that the speaker is more widely read in marketing surveys, trend analyses, biographies of the rich and famous, “One Hundred & One Sermon Illustrations,” and Leadership journal than in the Greek New Testament, hermeneutical aids, and the riches of centuries of theological scholarship. One can often tell when a pastor has just read a powerful book of pop-psychology, Christian personality theories, end-times speculations, moral or political calls to action, or entrepreneurial successes. He has been blown away by some of the insights and has scouted about for a text that can, if read very quickly, lend some divine credibility to something he did not actually get from that text, but from the Christian or secular best-seller’s list. “I’m a pastor, not a theologian,” they say, in contrast to the classical evangelical notion, inherited from the Reformation, that a pastor was a scholar as well as a preacher.

Good communicators can get away with the lack of content by their witty, anecdotal style, but they are still unfaithful as ministers of the Word, even if they help people and keep folks coming back for more.

read the whole thing here

This post from DesiringGod.com was helpful to me. However I think it would be helpful to lay persons as well. As lay people, you might ask of your preacher “does he preach what is true?” and “does he preach what is precious?” I might add one more in “does he preach it with passion?” These are all helpful things to hold your pastor to. Thanks to Sammy for sending this our way…

A word to preachers. Truth and falsehood is a good pair of categories to use when deciding what to preach. Speak truth not falsehood.

But there is another crucial pair of categories. God tells Jeremiah that he must use this pair if he would be faithful:

Therefore thus says the Lord: “…If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless, you shall be as my mouth. (Jeremiah 15:19)

In deciding what to preach make these two judgments: Is it true and is it precious? Preach what is both. If it is true, preach it with authority. If it is precious, preach it with passion.

One great reason why some preaching leaves people unmoved is that preachers seem unmoved. Is this precious or isn’t it? That is the question in the hearts of the people. If it is, why don’t you sound like it?

The great battle of preaching is to see what’s true and to savor what’s precious. Weak seeing and weak savoring are a curse to God’s people.

Brothers, plead for deliverance from this curse. The ordinances of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. They are more precious than gold and sweeter than honey (Psalms 19:9-10).

read it in its original context here

I found a clever tool on the internet called “wordle”. How does it work? You type a text in the “wordle” and it creates a “word cloud” that shows the most prominent words that were used in the text. Here is a sermon I picked at random so that I could see the words that were emphasized the most in our preaching…check it out!

I’m still learning about that program, so I would recommend visiting here for a sharper, larger, picture

What did Paul do? He went to Philippi; did he know a soul there? Not one. He had his Master’s truth, and he believed in the power of it. He was unattended and devoid of pomp, or show, or parade; he did not go to a pulpit with a soft cushion in it to address a respectable congregation, but he walked through the streets and began to preach to the people. He went to Corinth, to Athens, alone, single-handed, to tell the people the gospel of the blessed God. Why? Because he had faith in the gospel and believed it would save souls, and hurl down idols from their thrones. He had no doubt about the power of the gospel; but now-a-days, my brethren, we have not faith in the gospel we preach. How many there are who preach gospel, which they are afraid will not save souls; and, therefore, they add little bits of their own to it in order, as they think, to win men to Christ! We have known men who believed Calvinistic doctrines, but who preached Calvinism in the morning and Arminianism in the evening, because they were afraid God’s gospel would not convert sinners, so they would manufacture one of their own. I hold that a man who does not believe his gospel to be able to save men’s souls, does not believe it all. If God’s truth will not save men’s souls, man’s lies cannot; if God’s truth will not turn men to repentance, I am sure there is nothing in this world that can. When we believe the gospel to be powerful, then we shall see it is powerful. If I walk into this pulpit, and say, “I know what I preach is true,” the world says I am an egotist. “The young man is dogmatical.” Ay, and the young man means to be; he glories in it, he keeps it to himself as one of his peculiar titles, for he does most firmly believe what he preaches. God forbid that I should ever come tottering up the pulpit stairs to teach anything I was not quite sure of, something which I hoped might save sinners, but of which I was not exactly certain. When I have faith in my doctrines, those doctrines will prevail, for confidence is the winner of the palm. He who hath courage enough to grasp the standard, and hold it up, will be sure enough to find followers. He who says, “I know,” and asserts it boldly in his Master’s name, without disputing, will not be long before he will find men who will listen to what he says, and who will say, “This man speaks with authority, and not as the Scribes and Pharisees.” That is one reason why we do not succeed: we have not faith in the gospel.

read it all here

I’m posting this so you might know what to look for in a preacher but also that those of you who attend worship at Trinity, Myrtle Beach might hold your clergy accountable to the faithful, engaging, relevant and clear preaching and expositing of the Scriptures. Accept nothing less!

The difference between an entertainment-oriented preacher and a Bible-oriented preacher is the manifest connection of the preacher’s words to the Bible as what authorizes what he says.

The entertainment-oriented preacher gives the impression that he is not tethered to an authoritative book in what he says. What he says doesn’t seem to be shaped and constrained by an authority outside himself. He gives the impression that what he says has significance for reasons other than that it manifestly expresses the meaning and significance of the Bible. So he seems untethered to objective authority.

The entertainment-oriented preacher seems to be at ease talking about many things that are not drawn out of the Bible. In his message, he seems to enjoy more talking about other things than what the Bible teaches. His words seem to have a self-standing worth as interesting or fun. They are entertaining. But they don’t give the impression that this man stands as the representative of God before God’s people to deliver God’s message.

The Bible-oriented preacher, on the other hand, does see himself that way—“I am God’s representative sent to God’s people to deliver a message from God.” He knows that the only way a man can dare to assume such a position is with a trembling sense of unworthy servanthood under the authority of the Bible. He knows that the only way he can deliver God’s message to God’s people is by rooting it in and saturating it with God’s own revelation in the Bible.

read it all here