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Home School Of Preaching NONCONFORMIST PREACHING

NONCONFORMIST PREACHING

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NONCONFORMIST PREACHING

By Geoff Thomas

Dr Lloyd-Jones Memorial Lecture; London Theological Seminary 2004.

There is a tradition of Anglican preaching which any nonconformist would envy. Esteemed men of

God, vitally expounding Scripture, have been addressing England from Anglican pulpits since the

Reformation; Perkins in the 16th century, Gurnall in the 17th century, Whitefield in the 18th century,

while in the 19th there was the incomparable Ryle. In the 20th century Alec Motyer has been one of

those Anglicans who has never failed to help us each time we have heard him preach. Such men are

simply the representatives of gospel preachers who have brought the Word of God to bear upon the

Church of England since the Reformation. Our unity with all the elect of God who cleave to the

historic faith has been experienced as we have listened to these Anglican brethren preaching from the

Bible and applying its truth to us. Some of the Anglican choice of music is as deplorable as ever - they

have travelled from choir boys to rock bands and haven’t stopped yet. One waits for the drummer to

lay down his sticks and then the sermon can begin. To our delight we are shown Jesus Christ’s glory,

sin is made shameful, and grace magnified as more abundant than all our guilt. At such times we have

forgotten the less important convictions that divide Anglicanism and nonconformity. It is in biblical

preaching that we are of most assistance and encouragement to one another, free churchmen and

established churchmen who have been saved by the precious blood of Christ who love to proclaim the

Bible.

 

The Church of England gives its incumbents a protection and an almost unchallenged authority within

its pulpits (at which our nonconformist preachers spectate and marvel), but accepting the

Establishment status can also discourage the preaching of the whole counsel of God except amongst

its most courageous clergy. To keep one’s conscience clear and remain an evangelical vicar means a

life of constant vigilance and Christian warfare. One may not view every fellow clergyman who has

been the recipient of episcopal ordination as one’s brother if one’s supreme loyalty is to Jesus Christ.

The recent 180-page report Fragmented Faith? coming jointly from the practical theology department

of Bangor University and the Church Times indicates how much humanism has infringed upon the

Christian faith in the Anglican denomination. One in 33 clerics doubts the existence of God. If

reflected throughout the Church’s 9,000 clergy the finding would mean that nearly 300 Church of

England clergy are uncertain that God exists. 40 per cent of clergy do not believe in the virgin birth of

Christ; a third of clergy are in favour of the ordination of practising homosexuals and homosexual

bishops. Over half the clergy don’t think it is wrong for people of the same gender to have sex

together. We may not ignore the warnings of Jesus concerning false prophets. Our consciences may

not be bought by the smiling greetings in “ministers’ mingles” and clergy conferences of those who

preach another gospel. Fearlessness and vigilance is the price to pay for being a gospel-preaching

vicar in the 21st century, as it always has been.

 

That vigilance is often absent. Evangelicalism in the Church of England is overwhelmingly Arminian

and charismatic, and its preaching reflects those inadequate theological systems. The appeal of those

sermons is directed to the congregation’s will in order, firstly, to get men to make a decision for God,

and, secondly, to decide to speak or sing in tongues. Feelings and physical manifestations are judged

to be of considerable importance whilst the fact is that they are the easiest manifestations for the

devil to counterfeit. Its music rather than the preached word creates the tone of that worship, and

the emotional responses of the congregation are interpreted authoritatively by its leaders in personal

pastoring as indicating the presence of saving faith in favoured people and also as evidence of

possessing the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Thus assurance is bestowed by clerical pontification.

Anglican’s best representatives are unhappy with this approach. They take Scripture more seriously,

though they are generally Amyraldian and there is always one’s uncertainty concerning their belief in

Jesus’ teaching of the eternal punishment of the unrepentant. Their message focuses upon the

importance of exegetical preaching, especially as viewed through the insights of the history of

redemption school. Compared to what is heard in many pulpits today this is an important emphasis,

but there tends to be a lack of application; there is also the denigration of systematic theology and a

coolness towards creationism. The goal of the sermon is considered to be explaining what a passage

means. Some hearers feel that if this so they could gain as much benefit from staying at home and

reading a commentary on that passage. The absence of deep feeling while hearing the truth of the

word preached is compensated for by a cultivated spirit of friendly informality and modest

approachability. This is one consequence of the absence of the Calvinistic vision of God-centredness in

creation, judgment, redemption and regeneration. However, all the above characteristics are also

found in abundance in nonconformist circles.

 

We Free Churchmen understand our principal calling is to be preaching and pastoring. Hence our

status is the preacher or the pastor; we know nothing of such titles as archbishops, diocesan bishops,

deans and rural deans, prebendaries, canons and minor canons, priests and fathers, vicar generals and

clerks in holy orders. These are to us the baggage of a partially reformed church, offices which Christ

never appointed and of which there is nothing at all in the New Testament. How much better would

the professing church be without such clutter. We pastor and so we are pastors. We preach and so we

are preachers.

 

Again nonconformist preachers are appointed by the call of a particular church. Thus a congregation

may maintain its own Biblical convictions. New Park Street Church had done so from Gill to Spurgeon.

The congregation called Calvinistic preacher-pastors for a couple of centuries. Gospel congregations

have wisdom enough to evaluate a man who claims he is called of God. It will ask questions about

Christian doctrine and morality. Does he have a strong call that he must preach the word of God? Does

he feel that he is more than an elder who teaches the word? Who are the role models of this man?

What books has he read which have impacted him? What does he think of Luther, Spurgeon, Lloyd-

Jones and their sermons? Does he make an altar call? Does he believe in expository preaching? What is

his view of music in worship? It will seek by such friendly questioning to discover if there is an agenda

of which none of the references they have sought after have even hinted, a package that a man might

bring like a Trojan horse into a congregation.

 

When they have called a man a relationship develops as the years pass. An affection builds up

between a congregation and its pastor. The church speaks with warmth of the one who brings them

the Word of God each week and visits them in their need. He might be referred to as ‘the Doctor’ or

some such familiar name of respectful endearment. That affection is contagious and other people

know that the bonds that unite that pulpit and those pews are not only the bonds of truth but love

also.

 

Nonconformist churches are characterised by their emphasis on the Word of God rather than on the

sacraments. Even the design of their buildings indicates this. The pulpit is central; let everyone see

and hear the Bible being read and preached. In some churches the sacrament would be held twice a

year, or four times a year and at the most twelve times a year. The congregation are utterly satisfied

with the grace of God that comes to them morning and evening through the public means of grace.

The summit of nonconformist worship is the preacher doing what the Lord Jesus Christ did in the

synagogue in Galilee . He opened the book and found the place. We have spoken to God in prayer, we

have sung his praises, and then the climactic aspect of worship is when God speaks to us through his

word. What then is good nonconformist preaching?

 

SERMONS THAT ARE A TRUE PROCLAMATION

 

Firstly it is true proclamation. It is not a string of stories or a stodgy lecture but from first to last the

sermon is directed to every hearer. We are all involved from the outset in the herald bringing his

king’s message to us. The truth of a passage of the Bible is presented not simply as words that once

came to members of a church long ago and far away in Biblical times but God becoming significant to

us now, saving, ruling, directing, comforting, rebuking, caring, living for us in and by his own word.

In the eighteenth century John Nelson records his first encounter with a sermon that was a true

proclamation. He heard John Wesley preaching for the first time at Moorfields in London : “O that was

a blessed morning to my soul! As soon as he got upon the stand he stroked back his hair and turned his

gaze towards where I stood, and I thought fixed his eyes upon me. His countenance struck such an

awful dread upon me before I heard him speak that it made my heart beat like the pendulum of a

clock. When he did speak, I thought his whole discourse was aimed at me.”

 

For a while Nelson fought against those convictions until he heard a soldier testifying to some women

how he had become a Christian hearing Wesley: “When he began to speak his words made me

tremble. I thought he spoke to no one but me, and I durst not look up, for I imagined all the people

were looking at me.” Nelson sought out Wesley and heard him preach again finally saying, “I found

power to believe that Jesus Christ had shed his blood for me, and that God, for his sake, had forgiven

my offences. Then was my heart filled with love to God and man.” Soon Nelson became one of

Wesley’s first assistant ministers, accompanying him to preach in Cornwall and elsewhere. He too

became a mighty proclaimer of the divine message of the gospel.

 

SERMONS THAT ARE BIBLICAL

 

Secondly, good nonconformist preaching is Biblical preaching. What is preached is not an essay on

some truth or the actions of politicians or media personalities or philosophers or theologians or our

own opinions on current affairs, but what God has said in one of the letters of Paul, or in one of the

books of Moses, or by one of the writing prophets, or in the words of Jesus Christ his only begotten

Son. Not only are we told what the portion preached on means but we are also shown that every point

that is made comes from the passage before us. Because this is done we can evaluate for ourselves

whether the preacher’s conclusions and applications are accurate and thus faithful to the word. Has

he done his homework? The preacher has to satisfy his hearers that he has taught just what that

particular passage is saying. We have returned home understanding the passage, how everything in

the sermon flowed from those words that were announced at the beginning. Then we listen to his

exhortations about our lives carefully not as to the opinions of one eloquent man but as to the Word

of God to us. God’s servant preached and his preaching was received with an authority appropriate for

that message and we left knowing we had heard a proclamation from God to us. Having told us what

the passage was, it made sense to us and others in the congregation. Thus we are all drawn into the

speaking God himself. We become a divinely involved people. The Bible becomes the principal means

of grace whereby God changes people who receive his word.

 

Let me apply some famous words of John Jewel: are you a member of the Royal family? Go and hear

the Scriptures preached. Are you sleeping in cardboard city? Go and hear the Scriptures preached. Are

you a minister, first hear for yourself the Scriptures being preached. Are you a parent concerned for

your children? Then hear Scriptures preached. Are you a child and concerned about your one lifetime

stretching out before you? Then go and hear the Scriptures preached. Are you a rock musician? Then

hear the Scriptures preached. Are you a professional footballer? You must make it your goal to go and

hear the Scriptures preached. Are you a Muslim? Go and hear the Christian Scriptures preached. Are

you planning to become a suicide bomber? First hear the Scriptures being preached. Are you a

millionaire? Go and hear Scripture preached. Are you a homosexual? Go and hear the Scriptures

preached. Are you a drug addict? Go and hear the Scriptures preached. Are you totally ignorant as to

why you are here in the world? Go and hear Scripture preached. Are you dying of cancer? Then send

for cassettes of Scripture being preached. Are you proud? Hear the Scriptures preached. Are you in

deep trouble? Hear the Scriptures preached. Are you a sinner? Have you offended God? Find a

preacher who will preach the Scriptures to you. Are you in despair of the mercy of God Then hear the

Scriptures preached.

 

Legitimacy for what we believe, the clearest window through which God may be seen, a view of the

living Christ, knowledge of how we must live is to be found by Scripture and Scripture alone. So all

true sermons are biblical sermons

 

SERMONS THAT ARE INTERESTING

 

Thirdly, nonconformist preaching is interesting preaching. The juice has not been cooked out of the

passage so that it is hard, dry, burnt over, abstract teaching, nor is it raw and bloody, an uncooked

chunk of meat. The passage is cooked and garnished and accented so that the many flavours of the

Word of God are served by the minister, seasoned by illustrations that he has brought. Thus as the

sermon is delivered it sizzles. In the late fifties our family moved to Barry. My father had become the

Station Master at Barry Dock and there I discovered an annual Keswick in Wales convention that had

been taken over by Omri Jenkins and Paul Tucker. They would preach in the Welsh Congregationalist

chapel on the square opposite the town library every year in a week of meetings and both of them

would preach each evening. We would sing a hymn; there would be a reading and prayer, another

hymn then either Omri would preach first or Paul Tucker. Then we would sing a hymn and there would

the second sermon afterwards. I do not know whether services with such two sermons exist any

longer. Those men were such interesting preachers, fascinating in their personalities and quite

gripping in their preaching. Very different kinds of men, it was a privilege to hear them preach.

You can’t protest, “But I have been to the commentaries and I have read the Bible dictionaries, surely

you can’t ask for anything more?” Yes, we must ask for more. I am asking shouldn’t a family who

gather around a Thanksgiving Meal in the USA get excited as they see the table spread so lovingly?

Shouldn’t the odour of the prepared food get the saliva ducts working in anticipation of eating such

delights, the bowls of steaming peas, the tender turkey, the cranberry sauce, the roast potatoes, the

carrots, the jugs of steaming gravy? If a wife returned home with shopping bags loaded with the best

food that Sainsbury’s provides wouldn’t the family rightly complain if she claimed food selection to be

everything? “Don’t ask me to prepare and cook and serve it too. You should appreciate the food

because it is good, you need it; it constitutes a well-balanced meal.” How would you like it if you

returned home for supper tonight and your wife put a Tesco bag on the table and told you, “Well, you

have a go for a change,” and there was a cauliflower in cling film, and a bag of uncooked rice, and a

couple of cuts of raw Welsh lamb, and some coffee beans in a plastic bag, and a box of do it yourself

chocolate cake. Would you be turned on by that? Could you be strengthened by those bags and

packages, even if it were wonderfully nutritious and well-balanced in assortment?

 

The analogy is not that inappropriate. There are pastors who spend little or no time beyond exegesis

in preparing to make the truth of a passage edible, and so God’s people go away unfed. The pastor

wonders why the people don’t grow, the food was there, the combination was fine, but why didn’t

people eat it? It is not enough to protest, “If they are hungry, they’ll find a way of eating it.” What

are they going to do with the uncooked rice and those coffee beans? No matter how nutritious the

ingredients of a meal may be, little actual eating will take place with food that isn’t properly

prepared. The preacher is the naked chef. He stands terribly exposed and vulnerable before God

bringing his word of life to a hundred hungry people. Serve God’s truth in a savoury and appetising

way.

 

It sounds very pious to say you are spending all of your time on exegesis, the history of redemption

and hermeneutics, but it is very clear that form and content are really inseparable. Just as the true

flavours of meats and vegetables cannot really be appreciated until they are properly cooked so too

there can be no adequate understanding or appreciation of many Biblical truths until they are put in a

form that is compelling to the hearer. You remember there is bound to be some structure of one kind

or another; a sermon begins and a sermon finally ends. So whenever God’s word is preached, form is

unavoidable. But wrapped cauliflower on a plate, and ten coffee beans at the bottom of a mug are

the worst form for eating. Such form actually distorts. Coffee is to be drunk not chewed. Our task is

to bring out the flavours of each passage and serve the ends which the Holy Spirit who inspired the

passage had in his heart in inspiring those particular words, in that unique combination. Those specific

words will give the specific message that comes out of it its own structure. The key to the ensuing

form may be just one word.

 

I remember once at Westminster Chapel Dr. Lloyd-Jones was preaching through the Acts of the

Apostles and unconsciously he taught me to look for the contents of the verse before me. That night

he had come to Peter’s words on the times of refreshing that come from the presence of the Lord

(Acts 3:19 ), and there, leaping out of that verse, was that one word ‘refreshing.’ So Dr. Lloyd-Jones

used it as God’s highway into that verse. He said,

 

“What, then, is the gospel message? ‘Repent ye therefore,’ said Peter, ‘and be converted, that your

sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.’ This

is Christianity. It is not a kind of conference to decide whether we have enough energy left to make a

hole in the wall so that we can let in some air. No, no, it is not that. It is a message that comes from

the outside — from the presence of the Lord, the one Peter had been preaching about. It is the

coming of the Son of God into this world that changes everything. This is the message of salvation. He

can do it, and he alone can do it.

“Do you know what civilization is? Have you ever been in the conditions that I am describing to you?

Have you ever been in some of those cities in America where there is terrible humidity? In America

they not only measure the heat, they measure the humidity, and they are quite right. Have you ever

been in the city of Boston , say, on a hot August Sunday afternoon when it is not only very hot, but

very humid as well? No sun to be seen, but it is there above the clouds.

“The whole universe seems to be pressing down upon you, hot and humid. And you are tired, and you

sit in a room and what can be done? Before they had air conditioning, people used to put on electric

fans. The electric fan causes the air to circulate and while you are sitting somewhere near this fan

you feel a little cooler. You are quite convinced that the fan is cooling the atmosphere. But you are

wrong. It is actually increasing the temperature because the energy of the electricity is adding to the

temperature. You have the impression that it is cooling the air, because there is a movement, but the

fan does not bring in any fresh air at all. It makes the same air go round and round. You merely get

the illusion that the position is being dealt with.

“That is all civilization does. It does not touch the problem. It does not make any difference to the

real condition of men and women. We change this and improve that, and there is a sort of movement,

but nothing new is brought in. Let me use a medical illustration. You cure one disease and you say,

‘Now we shall be all right.’ Then you suddenly hear that another disease has come. Penicillin cures

some of the most terrible diseases, yes, but that, in turn, produces certain germs that are resistant to

penicillin and they are the real killers.” (D.M.Lloyd-Jones, Authentic Christianity: Sermons on the

Acts of the Apostles, Volume 1, Acts 1-3 , Banner of Truth, Edinburgh, 1999, pp. 306 & 307).

Isn’t that graphic? Here is mere ‘man’, Lloyd-Jones’ constant theme, man in rebellion against God,

doing everything to cool and perfume the stench of modern life without God, and all he does meets

with little success. Then there is the refreshing that comes from God when Jesus Christ comes into a

life, into a congregation, into a home, into a community.

 

Bad form can ruin good content. How do you make a sermon more interesting? You do the familiar

basics like cultivating a conversational rather than a literary style. You explain any history, the people

the Bible mentions, theological words, any cultural practises. You look at it from this angle and

another, and make it all simply fascinating to the people. You tell the story that is in the Biblical

narrative, you look for any vivid words as I have just described. You ask, what is the big story behind

this little story. You try to flee from clichés and employ phrases that are memorable. One phrase that

was given to me over 20 years ago, was Harvey Cox’s ‘creative disaffiliation’ and it provided a helpful

angle on my relationship with our Anglican friends.

 

We also use illustrations. There is a fine chapter in Stuart Olyott’s Preaching, Pure and Simple,

entitled “Vivid Illustration” (Bryntirion Press, 2005, pp. 92-111), which will help every minister. Study

it. I have a favourite memory that has done me much good and has brought to the affections of a

congregation the demands of godly living. I was preaching in Louisville , Mississippi , and on the

Monday morning when preaching was over, I went to visit a friend of mine, a Baptist deacon whose

daughter has married a PCA minister. He runs a furniture shop in the middle of town; I went to the

store and talked with him there. There is not much going on in a little Mississippi town on a Monday

morning and as we could relax and fellowship he told me how the previous week he had met this black

Christian brother and they were talking together in the main street. Then up to them strutted some

horrible white racist. He stopped and listened to their conversation for a while and then he turned to

the black man and muttered something utterly unacceptable, words quite unspeakable such as I have

never heard in all the time I have spent in Mississippi . My friend was shocked, and he turned to this

blaggard and said heatedly, “You shouldn’t say a thing like that. You should be ashamed of yourself.

You apologise to him for saying that.” This racist said, “You won’t find me apologising to a black

epithet,” and off he strutted. My friend was so apologetic, he wanted to apologise for the whole

white race and for this evil especially, the ugliness of what he’d just seen and heard. “I am so sorry,”

he said continually. “It is alright,” the black Christian said. “It really is alright.” Then he added, “You

know, I would like to get my revenge on that man, and this would be my revenge. I would be driving

back to Louisville late one night after eleven o’clock, and I would see his car at the side of the road.

He had a flat tyre, and he did not have a jack, and I would stop my car and I would get out my jack

and I would jack up his car and I would change his tyre for him. That would be the revenge I’d like to

have on him.” It’s a wonderful illustration of the New Testament ethic. Islamic suicide bomber hear

me! Don’t overcome evil with evil but overcome evil with good. If your enemy hungers, feed him, if

he is thirsty, you give him a drink; you pour coals of fire on his head.

I am not speaking of developing an obsessive mentality which is desperate for illustrations. Sermons

do not consist of stringing together seven or so big illustrations, so that every few minutes you are

launching forth onto another story. I do not think that is helpful preaching in fact I think it is pathetic

preaching. That is Jackanorry rather than Whitefield. I do not believe that that is Biblical preaching,

but I do believe a judicious use of vivid words and illustrations is indispensable.

Or another way to make preaching interesting is in good bodily actions. Here is an excursus; Dr Lloyd-

Jones had a pose in singing hymns, head down, no bodily movement and he sang the words reverently

with his eyes on the book. He hated every form of histrionic in hymn-singing. It was a surprise to

worship at chapel services at Westminster Seminary with John Murray and see him singing with his

hymn book held in outstretched arems which moved up and down and from side to side, so vigorously

involved in the praise of God.

That was not the Doctor’s style of singing but when he preached how he moved around that pulpit in

Westminster Chapel. He walked from side to side, speaking and gesturing, seeking to involve everyone

in the congregation in the message of Jesus Christ, offering the Saviour and his salvation to them all.

Someone said to me, “He bounced around that pulpit!” That is not a metaphor one usually associates

with Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Charles Haddon Spurgeon has a lecture on gestures during preaching in his

Lectures to my Students. The gestures are actually drawn there. If you have seen them, how

delightful they are. That he should do that indicates he did not believe our bodily animation in the

pulpit was insignificant, or degrading to ministry. Spurgeon had a fear of men failing to move a

congregation by gestures that were wooden or awkward or ill-timed, for example, unfortunate

gestures that came from the elbow rather than the shoulder. I won’t belittle the costly exercise of

watching oneself preach on video and consequently seeking to iron out gauche and cumbersome

gestures before they become a constant distraction. You know that gestures are contagious. I picked

up a gesture from John Murray forty three years ago. It is a sort of dive from the shoulder. I do it and I

got it from him. He would lean into a certain pose to get a point across. I picked it up straightaway.

People say that the students who have sat under my ministry have picked up my gestures. They know

that I have had my influence on them not by the purity of their lives (!) nor by the profundity of their

theology (!) but for the ways they wave about their arms which, alas, they have picked up from me

Or again there is the preacher who smiles all the time, maybe it’s his nerves, or maybe his mother

told him when he began preaching that he should smile at the congregation. Whatever the reason it

wearies and turns people off. They refer to him as the Rev. Smiler - the rosy cheeks, the bushy white

sideburns, the bald head and the smiling mouth out of which the ditties come, “If I were a bumble

bee . . .” God save his sheep from shepherds who encourage such sanctimonious twaddle. There is

deep seriousness about our calling. We know the terrors of God and we are persuading men to hear

and change. They are on a broad road that leads to destruction; we are sounding an alarm and there

are words of grief for those who continually reject. Jesus wept.

Of course there are the opposite expressions. I think of the modernists I heard for the first fifteen

years of my life. In my memory of them they seem such grey men, stern and moralistic. How can you

preach the love of God or the good news of eternal life as God’s gift if you are the Reverend Sourpuss?

What tender woman would say yes to a marriage proposal from such a man? Let us avoid the stiff-asa-

board delivery; let us find grace to wipe away expressionless faces. Read the Scriptures, there is

pathos, there is joy that is unspeakable and full of glory, there is also groaning. Christ throws himself

to the ground and his sorrow seems to be killing him. All are legitimate feelings for the preacher. I

am saying to you by every legitimate means of true renewed humanity and grace and knowledge of

the Bible make your sermons living and gripping. We are not interesting people in ourselves, and we

are not members of interesting congregations. The only interesting thing about us is our message

about the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the most fascinating news the world has ever heard or ever will.

 

SERMONS THAT ARE WELL STRUCTURED.

 

Fourthly a good Nonconformist sermon should be well-organised. There are points and they are as

sturdy as steel and they undergird the whole. They are arranged in a logical order but the points don’t

protrude. In other words the Nonconformist preacher does not bore us with unnecessary ‘firstlies’,

‘secondlies’, ‘thirdlies’ and then sub-section minor ‘firstlies’ and ‘secondlies’ and ‘thirdlies.’ Such

details are a distraction and confusing when they are meant to clarify. Is this ‘thirdly’ a main point or

a sub point to the ‘secondly’? I do believe Dr. Lloyd-Jones could have been more helpful in not giving

enough warning of a step forward in his development by mentioning more often ‘secondly’ and

‘thirdly’. Everyone’s minds must wander during preaching. That is part of the sermon, to plant

thoughts in people’s brains. Drawing them in again to listen to your preaching is difficult and one way

is to say, “Now thirdly . . .” Then everyone freshens up again to journey on with you on a new

section. Please read in Stuart Olyott’s Preaching Pure and Simple (op cit), his third chapter entitled

“Clear Structure.”

 

I will draw your minds in by announcing that this is the beginning of a new paragraph. Our entire focus

as we deal with our text is set on the intent of the Holy Spirit in these verses, what he has said, why

he said it, and how he said it. Asking those questions will immediately produce a structure of answers.

I would work on the set passage of Scripture for this coming Lord’s Day and arrange and rearrange

truths until I could see my outline. When I have my skeleton - with some development, a good

movement and a progression to a climax - then the main battle for the sermon is over.

One thing more about the structure (and this I learned from Jay Adams) is to understand the

distinction between a lecture outline and a preaching outline. This is simple and crucial. For example,

in a lecture you have written at the top of your page (or certainly in your mind’s eye) some such

statement as this, “The theme of this sermon is personal witnessing.” However, in a true preaching

outline there will be at the top of the outline, not a thematic statement but a statement of purpose

that will read something like this, “My purpose is to encourage you to witness personally.” The lecture

approach cues that speaker to teach a topic as information, while the purpose statement prepares the

preacher to exhort people about their daily living.

 

But as Jay Adams says, “The contrast does not stop with the cuing statement at the top of the

outline. It extends to the entire outline. Here are two examples:

A Lecture Format A Preaching Format

The Gifts of the Spirit Using Your Spiritual Gifts

I. The Source of the Corinthians Gifts. I. God Gave Each of You Gifts

II. The Functions of the Corinthians’ Gifts. II. God Gave You Them to be Used

III. The Purpose of the Corinthians’ Gifts. III.God Gave Them for the Benefit of Others

“Notice the differences, not only in the titles, but throughout. Of course, I have included only the

major heads, but the same thing holds true for subordinate points that is true for these major heads.

These titles differ, one is abstract, the other personal. One is factual, the other is motivational. The

main points are different: those in one are abstract, in the other personal. In one, the focus is on the

Corinthians, in the other on the congregation. You can see clearly, can’t you, that the preaching

format continually cues the preacher to be personal, to address his congregation, to bring them face

to face with God and his requirements; in short, it cues him to preach. The lecture format cues the

speaker to lecture about, not to preach to” (Jay E.Adams, Preaching with Purpose, Presbyterian and

Reformed Publishing Company, 1982, pp.52&53). I think that this is important, and exhort you to take

it to heart and search your own style of preaching.

SERMONS THAT ARE EVANGELISTIC.

Fifthly, good Nonconformist preaching is evangelistic. I wonder has the evangelical church lost sight

of the evangel? Watch the tele-evangelists for a few minutes, call in on those channels to judge for

yourself. I rarely hear the gospel when I have let their words enter my front room. I never hear sin

being preached. I rarely hear the comprehensive answer to man’s need of Jesus Christ, the Saviour as

our prophet, priest and king. I rarely hear him being offered and people being besought to believe and

trust in him. It seems to me that those men and women (and there are as many women preaching on

TV as men) have all lost the gospel.

There are others who are not on TV who (A) preach just one narrow gospel strand of revealed religion

– ‘the Book, the Blood and the Blessed Hope’ - and hardly anything else. There are yet others who (B)

preach all the rest of the counsel of God in all the books of the Bible as if they were unrelated to the

evangelistic imperative of the great commission.

The first group of preachers (A) have in some ways chosen the easiest way as far as preparation is

concerned. Whatever the text, from whatever part of the Bible, they preach what they call ‘the

gospel’ constantly, adding different illustrations to the message and ending with an invitation. Often

such preaching shows hurriedness, lack of preparation, lack of thought about the objections to the

Christian faith that people have today. Young people, boys on motorcycles and girls who work in

McDonalds, quickly speak of why they can’t believe in God, and their reason for not following the Lord

Jesus Christ. The people sitting before us often hear those objections. Are we answering them in our

evangelism? Are we evangelising by overwhelming those objections with the superior and entirely

satisfying truths of God? So there is the first group of preachers who have the narrowest

understanding of evangelising unbelievers. The problem we have with them is this, that their focus is

on man’s will. Their thinking is they have to bring people to make a decision, but they need to step

back and ask why their hearers are saying no to Jesus Christ. Do they see his beauty? Are they being

given glimpses of it, in his person as God and man, in his offices as prophet, priest and king? Do they

see why they need him because of their own sin and guilt? Before summoning them to a decision

preachers need first to display freshly the glories of Christ in his person and work as he is offered to

us.

Read Dr Lloyd-Jones’ evangelistic books, the sermons so owned of God to the conversion of many in

Sandfields, or his preaching on the Acts of the Apostles. They provide for us his conception of what

evangelism really is. It is quite awesome the respect he pays to the congregation’s questions about

the nature of Christianity, his willingness to be involved at that level in their thinking. His hearers

were meeting constant opposition to Christianity; in South Wales the rise of socialism in the steel

works of Aberavon and the mines of the Afon valley was creating a generation who were dismissing

the Bible. How demoralising it might have been to men who were following the Saviour, but Lloyd-

Jones showed the inadequacies of such thinking and the utterly sufficient answers in the truth that is

in Jesus Christ. Evangelism is much more than preaching the blood of Jesus Christ each Sunday night

to a congregation who can guess what the next sentence is going to be.

Then there is the second group of ministers (B) who major in expository preaching in a teaching

ministry. It is a helpful to teach sections of Scripture, but one drawback is what Americans call a

cookie-cutter approach (and which we Welsh people call a Welsh-cake cutter approach) to a section

of Scripture. Within passages of the Bible are ‘gems of truth.’ It is so unfashionable to say that today,

but though all Scripture is equally God-breathed it is not all of equal significance. The six chapters

that begin the first book of Chronicles are not as important as the six chapters of the letter to the

Ephesians. There are also within smaller pericopes of revelation truths that leap out at the reader. I

fear that these Himalayas within divine revelation are being flattened into a plain as they are

compassed within one section of Scripture being explained to a congregation.

In other words in a certain section of Scripture there is a ‘big verse,’ golden words full of ravishing

meaning, a beautiful truth that people write out and pin on their notice-boards and stand on their

desks. O let me taste this nectar and run for hours in its strength. But the preacher is so committed to

going through, say, the book of Ephesians in 20 sermons, that he has no time to stop and consider

these truths in their multi-faceted glory. He and his team of preachers, the co-pastor and assistant

pastors, have divided up the series on this book of the Bible between them, and he can deal with this

majestic diamond only en passant. It has been absorbed into the bigger passage and it is given the

same sort of significance as the verses that precede it and the verses that follow it. I say that glorious

mountains are being rolled out into a plain. Great right-angled truths that humble the proud are being

blunted. This system is not serving the needs of dying sinners.

I am pleading for flexibility and the power to receive a gift God gives in such a truth as that.

Congregations delight in hearing a man of God opening up one of these ‘big verses’. I am pleading for

you to pause; do slow down. Isn’t preaching saying to a congregation, “Look at this . . . consider this

glory . . .”? A craftsman will pick up an object he has created and will show you its particular beauty.

A farmer will pull across with his crook a pedigree sheep that he is sending to an agricultural show. He

will show you the distinctive features that make it a possible gold medal winner. An art teacher will

point out the reasons why an old master is magnificent. When my friend Dick de Witt went to

Colombia from Grand Rapids (he is a little older than me), he reckoned that this charge would

probably be his last church. He told me he hoped to spend the rest of ministry preaching on the big

verses of the Bible. I am talking about the verses Spurgeon preached on, or the truths Dr. Lloyd-Jones

toured with when during a year he would make his forty visits to mid-week congregations over the

length and breadth of our land. He would preach his best sermons from his past year of labours at

Westminster Chapel. They were the greatest sermons any man could ever hear in the twentieth

century. They were on such themes as Felix trembling as Paul reasoned with him of righteousness,

temperance and judgement to come, or they were on a verse like this, How shall we escape if we

neglect so great salvation? Or he would open up the phrase, But God . . . from Ephesians 2 . I savour

the memory of them still though it is almost half a century since I first heard him.

Don’t begin your ministry by doing what I did, preaching slowly through Genesis on Sunday mornings

and Matthew at night. One of those series might have been fine, though I pause about commending a

man fresh out of a seminary like London Theological Seminary or Westminster Seminary to begin to

pastor a church by bringing the congregation a students’ mindset on Genesis. I did not have the

equipment to preach these two series and it took a thick-skulled self-confident young man some years

to realise that. How in the world did I survive? God was merciful. It would have been better in one

series to have learned my craft and cut my teeth by preaching on the big truths of the word of God. I

am saying, do a Lloyd-Jones in the mornings and a Spurgeon in the evenings, certainly to start off.

So what else can you say about evangelism? Certainly the ideal is to include a statement of the gospel

in every message. Even though half of our regularly preached messages might not be predominantly

evangelistic in their focus certainly those messages too should contain saving knowledge for the

stranger who has come in. Belief in Jesus Christ is essential to understanding or doing whatever the

passage is requiring of you. You say to a congregation, “How can you pray, or live like this unless you

have been given a new heart, unless your trust is in Jesus Christ, and God has regenerated you? So

then living as a husband should live, or obeying as a child is supposed to, you need to become a new

creation of God to do this. In other words . . .” Thus the ethical becomes a door to the evangelistic.

All the time you are conscious of man’s need of grace, and you make the people conscious that they

are in sin if they are not in Christ.

Again always you must discover the relevance of the death and the resurrection of Christ to whatever

it is you are teaching. You see that, for example, where Paul is talking about tensions in the

Philippian congregation. He is pleading that a certain mindset be in them; he talks of the incarnation

of God the Son. He brings Christ into the problem of two women refusing to be of one mind another

mind. “Have you ever considered the mind of the self-humbling God, the one who went even to the

death of the cross?” he asks. Men and women should respect one another, be giving to one another

and gracious to one another. When he talks about a husband loving his wife Paul must take them to

Golgotha . When the apostle talks about giving money to the cause of the kingdom then he brings the

cross in. Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift! The light of Jesus Christ falls across the whole

Bible and he illuminates every aspect of the Christian life. You cannot preach on any passage from the

Old or New Testament without in some way relating it to this heart of the gospel. Men of God preach

the gospel from everywhere because it is everywhere. It does not stand alone; like yeast it permeates

and lifts the whole. There is life that goes to every part of the Scripture. That will encourage the

congregation themselves to become gospel preachers.

SERMONS THAT ARE PRACTICAL AND APPLICATORY.

Sixthly, good Nonconformist preaching is practical and applicatory. That is, it is carefully adapted to

the congregation to whom it is being preached. We persist in telling people not only what they should

do as Christians but how to live according to God’s will. An exclusive diet of ‘how to’ sermons is

hardly inspirational but there are times, as with our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount when he tells his

hearers what is to be done or how not to do something - don’t pray like this, don’t fast in this way,

don’t give in this splashy manner. He tells them that the Pharisees behave like that, and they are

hypocrites. Our Lord had spent thirty years thinking about what Biblical principles meant and thus he

applied them to the twelve, and also the other people who were following him.

Sermons must be applied. Think of the Lord Jesus Christ how it was his custom every Sabbath to go

the synagogue. A synagogue congregation in the first century was asked to consider a passage or

theme and to look at it in the light of different rabbinic interpretations. So the congregation were not

all looking at me as you are, and as I am looking at you now. Speaker and congregation were all

looking at ‘the thought for the day.’ They were a crowd of onlookers. They were spectators. They

were positioning themselves outside a certain theme, sometimes outside a certain passage. They were

like a group of vacationers and the preacher was the tour guide. So he stops by a ruin where there is a

plaque on the wall and they begin to look at it. He talks about it and they are all staring at it

together. He tells them what the inscription says and that’s it. He himself is not at all central to the

event; the people don’t see him. He is the cameraman who zooms in on something.

When Jesus went to the synagogue he read the Scriptures and he gave the scroll back to the attendant

and he sat down to preach. You know the famous words that describe what happened next? The eyes

of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. Then he began to confront them with the word of

God; there were only two participants in the building, the preacher and the assembly. They were not

looking at and ‘doing’ a passage. He was confronting them with what God said to them through his

word. He was a practical preacher. He was never academic in his preaching. He was not interested in

abstractions. He was dealing with the people that were before him. He cared nothing for the

unfolding of ideas even from the Bible unless he could apply them to the conduct of his hearers. When

he spoke to people he did so within this kind of structure: “but I say to you . . . Woe to you, scribes

and Pharisees . . . you should not be surprised that I say to you, you must be born again . . . . I tell

you the truth you are going to see the heavens opened and the angels ascending and descending upon

the Son of Man . . .”

There are hundreds of examples such as that, of Jesus speaking directly to his hearers “I say to you . .

.”, by way of warning or encouragement or promise or invitation. Jesus was not firstly a Bible

preacher or an expository preacher. He was God’s herald. He was bringing the word of God to these

people. He certainly was not sharing things with them; he did not descend to that. A sharer is not on

the spot. A sharer does not have to manifest a divine authority indicating that the Spirit of the Lord is

upon him; God has anointed him not to share but to preach the message of the gospel to men and

women. How can you hold someone accountable when he says, “We only just want to share a few

things with you?” We preachers are not called upon to share the gospel but to declare the whole

counsel of God and beseech men and women to receive it. The idea of sharing suggests that the

speaker is saying something incomplete; there is just one angle on things which he has while the joint

corporate experience of everyone else pitching in is going to complement it. Such a man is just one

person in the congregation and his experience is part of the body life of the whole; sharing puts him

and the congregation alike upon the same footing. Yes, let every one minister to everybody else in

corporate sanctification. What a powerful means of grace it is for seven days a week and twenty-four

hours a day for every believer to pray for one another, and encourage one another. But there is more.

The preacher is a called man, a divinely authorized servant of God. “Woe is me if I do not preach the

gospel,” he says. His model is the Lord preaching the Sermon on the Mount and going through many of

the Ten Commandments. He opened them out and he explained what doing God’s will involved, and

what the standards were. There was much misunderstanding in the land. The cultural consensus was

confused but Christ applied God’s will to all who had ears to hear. He preached the inwardness of sin,

the subtlety of evil and the divine obligation. He laid the word of God on his hearers. They needed his

light and leadership.

There is a kind of preaching that has become popular. Its emphasis is on the Bible’s history of

redemption and it claims to be the group that is really preaching Scripture. It is characterised by

taking large sweeps across the Biblical landscape; it can travel across centuries with ease and then it

will give minute details about a word, or a phrase. People sit under such a ministry equipped with a

pen and a notebook. The preacher will use an overhead projector and a power point presentation. He

will slip on to the screen his outline, neatly written, sub point by sub point. What is my point? The

whole emphasis is on knowledge. The whole thrust is to inform the mind. It is too much of a cerebral

event. There is no confrontation. Power-point dulls everything. There is little application. There is no

focus on the affections of men and women. In other words, it is done so that the hearers will

understand a passage of the Bible better. It is not done so that they will love the God of the Bible

with all their heart and soul and mind and strength. A man proposing marriage to the girl of his

dreams would disdain power point in how he tells her of his love. The thinking behind this widespread

movement is not of a congregation broken over their sins fleeing to Jesus Christ for salvation. The

focus is on the intellect and a certain passage of the Bible, but even demons have a great grasp of the

exegesis of scripture. Milton in one place in Paradise Lost portrays them gathered in the caverns of

hell discussing the divine determinism, and doing so with great accuracy I suppose.

SERMONS THAT REFLECT A GROWING KNOWLEDGE OF GOD

Seventhly, everything the man of God is, he is before God. There is this renowned quotation of Dr.

Lloyd-Jones in his Preaching and Preachers in which he says, “I can forgive a man for a bad sermon, I

can forgive the preacher almost anything if he gives me a sense of God, if he gives me something for

my soul, if he gives me the sense that, though he is inadequate himself, he is handling something

which is very great and very glorious, if he gives me some dim glimpse of the majesty and the glory of

God, the love of Christ my Saviour, and the magnificence of the Gospel. If he does that I am his

debtor, and I am profoundly grateful to him” (p.98).

How can a man give to others a glimpse of the majesty and glory of God if he has not seen it himself?

Sustained effectiveness in the ministry can only come in direct proportion to his own spiritual vigour.

Al Martin has set out this aphorism that the man of God has to strive to maintain a real, expanding,

varied and original acquaintance with God and his ways. How does this American preacher set that

out? In what is one of the best quotations in a book about his theology of preaching he says the

following:

He says, “If the man of God is to have sustained effectiveness in his ministry, he must strive to

maintain an acquaintance with God and His ways. This acquaintance must be real, as opposed to

feigned, formal or professional. He must be apostolic in the sense that he can say, ‘What we have

seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our

fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ’ (1 John 1:3 ). He must be a man who

knows God other than by hearsay.

“Furthermore, his acquaintance with God and His ways must be expanding. He is called to be

transformed ‘from one level of glory to another’ (2 Cor. 3:18 ), he is called to ‘grow in the grace and

knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ’ (2 Pet. 3:18 ). This progressive transformation and

growth is locked into the fact that God and His holy Word are both inexhaustible. If the man of God is

not expanding in his acquaintance of God and His ways, he is failing as a Christian and his

effectiveness as a pastor will be neutralized.

“This acquaintance must not only be real and expanding, it must be varied. The ups and downs, the

joys and sorrows, must be experienced. The Psalms, which cover the entirety of human emotion and

experience, serve as a good guide. If the man of God is to know God, he must know Him in the

darkness of night and the brightness of day, in the fullness of His presence (Ps. 16:11) and in the

absence of His presence (Ps. 77:7-10).

“This varied experience of God and His ways is obviously a first-hand experience. The acquaintance

must be a personal and individual acquaintance. In this day of crass individualism, there is the danger

of overemphasizing the personal and individual at the expense of solidarity and the corporate.

Nevertheless, the Bible in its broad context of solidarity (in Adam, in Christ, in the faith, etc.) also

presents a noble individualism where the hairs of a man’s head are numbered (Matt. 10:30 ) and each

one is called by name (John 10:3 ). So the man of God not only walks with his God corporately, but

also individually” (Brian Borgman, “My Heart For Thy Cause. Al Martin’s Theology of Preaching,”

Mentor , 2002, pp.60&61).

SERMONS THAT ARE EFFECTUAL.

Eighthly, good Nonconformist preaching is gripping. There is a persuasiveness and a compellingness.

We are told that the common people heard Jesus gladly. The teaching was often profound and even

his own disciples who heard some of those messages many times did not understand the parables.

Messages were constantly provocative and controversial but there was something in them that gripped

the hearers. They walked right around a lake to hear another sermon from him when he had sailed

across to the other side, or men followed him in their thousands to listen to his preaching and they

hung on to every word.

I remember in September 1958 I had heard in camps, particularly from the Presbyterian students who

were the officers, respectful and affectionate references to ‘the Doctor.’ Who was this man they

called ‘the Doctor?’ Then a month before I began university while still a teenager I saw in the Western

Mail that ‘the Doctor’ was coming to preach at the ordination service of Dr. Eifion Evans at the

Memorial Hall in Cardiff. I took a train from Barry and walked along Cowbridge Road from Cardiff

General Station and sat in that packed Forward Movement Hall looking around at the congregation. It

was a black suited congregation; a hatted congregation; a serious-minded congregation, and such a

singing congregation when they sang “A debtor to mercy alone.”

There he was in the flesh and I told him twenty years later that this was the first time I had heard

him. “I don’t remember what you preached on,” I said. He did not appear to like that, but I didn’t

remember. I just knew that this was a very important occasion and I need to understand why. I took

just that one message to adjust to that level of piety, and reasoning, and encounter, and seriousness,

and truth that I had been deprived of for so long. He told me, “you know what I preached on,” and he

told me the passage. But I couldn’t remember. He added, “You know how I said that Eifion Evans was

going to be a pharmacist, and suddenly God touched him and changed the whole direction of his life.

He became an ambassador for God.” “I can’t remember,” I said. He told me of someone who had had

such a blessing in that meeting. I too had had a blessing and I was sorry I couldn’t remember the

words of Lloyd-Jones, just the Word, great and golden and full of God and utterly magnificent. How

fascinating it all was. The Gospel came not in word only but in power and in the Holy Spirit and with

much assurance.

Shouldn’t one expect some such phenomenon, as God lives, and we are his appointed servants?

Shouldn’t it be like that? Shouldn’t the absence of those confirming signs of the work of God deeply

grieve us today? I am referring to their absence from the pulpit in which I have stood and preached for

forty years, of the gospel coming in a gripping way so that men know that it is with the Holy Spirit

sent down from heaven?

Consider the preaching of the Lord Jesus and the great impact he made. In John 7 we have the

incident of the Pharisees sending their bully boys to arrest Christ. Off they go, these yokels, and Jesus

is in the temple and he is saying things like, “if any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink; out

of his belly will flow rivers of living water, and he said that of the Spirit that was to be given to those

who believed in him.” Those two men tried to get through to him but the crowds were packed like

sardines, and as far as his voice carried they stood, sitting on window sills, standing around the doors

and on the walls. No one was prepared to give way lest they should fail to hear one word of life. So

those country boys grated to a halt in the crowd and they had to stand and listen with everyone else.

They too came under the power of the word; those who had come to arrest remained to pray. Finally

when Jesus ended his sermon, and the crowd slowly and quietly moved away, those young men knew

that they had to return to give account to their employers the Pharisees. They knocked the door and

went in; the Pharisees asked where Jesus was. “We sent you to get him. Why are you here empty

handed?” The spokesman said, “Never man spake like this man. We never heard anyone speak like

that in our lives before.” The words of Jesus had turned wolves into puppy dogs. No miracles were

done that day; just the word of the Lord spoken with divine energy, and thus it has been throughout

history. When they heard that reply the Pharisees were so afraid. If men who had been in their

pockets and in their pay could be captivated by Jesus then who could be safe?

I learn one lesson from this, that the great antidote to doubt is to sit under the best ministry you can.

Another lesson is to do what Al Martin exhorts never stop developing a real, expanding, varied and

original acquaintance with God and his ways. My heroes have been men who are always thinking about

new portions of Scripture and new books to read and study, who share with congregations the

freshness and the delight of the message of the gospel, and want in every way to declare that word of

God.

 

“Happy if in my latest breath

I might but gasp his name,

Preach him to all and cry in death

Behold, behold the lamb.” Charles Wesley

I want to live like that and I want to die like that too.

 

SERMONS THAT ARE RELEVANT TO EVERY HEARER.

 

Ninthly, good nonconformist preaching is confident about the relevance of what it has to say to every

single person. The Lord Jesus ended the Sermon on the Mount by telling his hearers about two

builders. I once was listening to Dr. Lloyd-Jones in Aberystwyth when at the close of the sermon he

described these two men. He just told the story that we know so well of the one rapidly building his

house, planting his garden and sitting on his porch looking scornfully at the other man who was still

laying the foundation. Then the storm comes . . .

 

Let me digress . . . I had taken my nine year old daughter to that service and we walked home

together afterwards and I asked her, “What did you think of that?” She replied, “It was like Sunday

mornings . . . only simpler.” I made sure Dr. Lloyd-Jones heard that. I thought that would encourage

him. If you can capture children, and speak so that young people take heed then there is the future of

the church secure. The Doctor’s preaching had captured my little girl.

 

. . . so the storm came and hit both these houses and one collapsed like a house of cards while the

other withstood everything which the elements hurled at it. What is the purpose of that parable? The

man whose life is built on Jesus Christ - a little girl whose life is built on Jesus Christ - is absolutely

safe. The gates of hell won’t even destroy her because she is building her life on the Lord Jesus

Christ, upon his teaching, and while she does that her life is inviolable.

 

Our Lord was looking ahead to the 21st century and the utterly secularised Europe in which you and I

live, the carnality and materialism, the anti-Christian spirit that there is, the wickedness that is all

around us today, and the pressures on ordinary people who love and serve the Lord Jesus Christ to

renege. The Son of God says, “It is alright. I will keep everyone of them as they build their lives on

me; they are safe. I won’t lose any one of those that the Father has given to me. They will be secure

from all attacks and alarms.” Our Lord Jesus Christ was confident that his message, his very words,

were relevant for every single person who comes to church. To every person we talk to, we have

something of the deepest importance for their personal lives. We can say to every single person in this

great city of London - and you know that a great city is a great sin – “I have good news for you. I have

a Saviour that I can offer to you. A prophet who will teach you what is true, a priest who lays down his

life for sinners like you and lives in heaven to intercede for them, a king who will keep you all your

life on a narrow path, but that way leads to eternal life. I am offering him to you. That is my good

news for you.” We have a message that we can tell to all men and women - the extraordinary

relevance of the gospel of Jesus Christ to all men and women compared to whom nothing else

matters.

 

We have seen in what has been an awful 20th century for my own Principality where philosophical

speculation and modernism and socialism and capitalism and nationalism and all the isms of the world

have sought to put the gospel of Jesus Christ into second place that Bible preachers are still there.

But what pain we find everywhere. The first chapter of Romans is not just a description of evil, it is

the description of anguish too. That is the civilisation in which we live. But this Saviour has something

to say to every person who lives in this age. Our Lord is confident of his relevance to every single

person and that is the confidence that underlies all real Nonconformist preaching.

I have finished, but I can’t give a nine point lecture. There must be ten mustn’t there? The number

insists that it be so! Then let me add this from Dr Lloyd-Jones: he must have the last word.

 

SERMONS THAT CHANGE PEOPLE.

Tenthly, nonconformist preaching does something for the souls of men. “Any true definition of

preaching must say that that man is there to deliver the message of God . . . He has been sent, he is a

commissioned person, and he is standing there as the mouthpiece of God and of Christ to address

these people . . . He is there to influence people . . . Preaching should make a difference to a man

who is listening that he is never the same person again. Preaching, in other words, is a transaction

between the preacher and the listener. It does something for the souls of man, for the whole person,

the entire man; it deals with him in a vital and radical manner” (op cit, Preaching and Preachers,

p.53). May such preaching be heard again in every town in our nation!

 

GEOFF THOMAS - copyright

 

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 March 2011 22:36  

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