Dr. Lloyd-Jones was asked to deliver a series of lectures to the students of the Westminster Theological Seminary and he decided to speak on "Preaching and Preachers." He was reluctant to put those sixteen lectures into print but felt that his forty-one years of experience gave him some justification. All pastors should be very grateful that he did for we are the beneficiaries of that experience. This book is a classic and a must-read for every pastor! It continues to be profoundly relevant almost forty years after it was first put into print and is one of, if not, the most recommended book on preaching available today. Dr. Lloyd -Jones writes in the preface:
I have aimed at being practical, and I have tried to deal with the various detailed problems and questions that men have often put to me privately, and which have also often been discussed in ministers' meetings. In any case, as appears in many of the lectures, I thoroughly dislike any theoretical or abstract treatment of this subject.
While preaching I rarely refer to myself; but here I felt that to be impersonal would be quite wrong. So there is a good deal of the personal and anecdotal element, I trust that this will be found to be helpful by way of illustration of the principles which I have tried to inculcate.
Some may object to my dogmatic assertions; but I do not apologize for them. Every preacher should believe strongly in his own method; and if I cannot persuade all of the rightness of mine, I can at least stimulate them to think and to consider other possibilities. I can say quite honestly that I would not cross the road to listen to myself preaching, and the preachers whom I have enjoyed most have been very different indeed in their method and style. But my business is not to describe them but to state what I believe to be right, however imperfectly I have put my own precepts into practice.
He is not exaggerating when he talks about dogmatic assertions. He has many strong opinions and is not shy about sharing them. In Chapter 14: Calling for Decisions he gives ten reasons why he doesn't give an 'altar call.' This chapter also highlights that fact that Lloyd-Jones is a strong Calvinist. Although it doesn't come up very often it does shape his philosophy of preaching, but it is not so prevalent that non-Calvinists need to shy away.It is worth the price of the book to read his opinion on almost every question that preachers have. If anything, this book is extremely practical.
Chapter 1: The Primacy of Preaching gives Dr. Lloyd-Jones' motivation for delivering this series of lectures on preaching. He writes, "The work of preaching is the highest and the greatest and the most glorious calling to which anyone can ever be called. If you want something in addition to that I would say without any hesitation 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...The primary task of the Church and of the Christian minister is the preaching of the Word of God."
In 1969 when he gave these lectures preaching was already being considered outmoded and outdated. The great question was: "Can we justify preaching?" His answer, "You cannot read the history of the Church, even in a cursory manner, without seeing that preaching has always occupied a central and a predominating position in the life of the Church, particularly in Protestantism." He enumerates his reasons for why the place and power of preaching is in decline:
- The wrong emphasis on oratory and eloquence.
- "The loss of belief in the authority of the Scriptures, and a diminution in the belief of Truth."
- A justified reaction against the "professional pulpiteers."
- The publishing of sermons that led to pastors becoming essayists rather than preachers.
- An "increase in the element of entertainment in public worship--the use of films and the introduction of more and more singing" and the giving of testimonies.
In Chapter 2: No Substitute Lloyd-Jones continues substantiating the proposition that preaching is primary and therefore there can be no substitute for preaching. He goes for the jugular by declaring that the decline in preaching is linked to inaccurate theological conclusions. Man is inaccurately diagnosed as a victim and therefore his greatest need is deliverance. What pastors and churches must realize is that man is a rebel under the wrath of God. Therefore the Church's primary purpose "is to put man into the right relationship with God, to reconcile man to God." His concludes that we have been treating the symptoms and not the cause and by doing so we have actually concealed the real disease. The cure is true, biblical and theologically accurate preaching. Preaching that not only deals with the symptoms but also the disease. His contention is "that personal counseling and all these other activities are meant to supplement the preaching, not to supplant it; that they are the 'carrying on', 'follow up' work if you like, but must never be thought of as the primary work.
Chapter 3: The Sermon and the Preaching begins with another objection to preaching which asks, "Cannot all this be done better by means of group discussions? Should we not rather encourage more questions at the end of sermons, and a dialogue between the minister and the people who have come to listen?" Again it seems as if Lloyd-Jones was a prophet. These are current questions being debated in evangelical circles. In short his answer is, no! He gives numerous reasons of which I will let you read for yourself.
In the middle of this chapter he switches gears and begins answering the question, What is preaching? "Preaching is that which deals with the whole person, the hearer becomes involved and knows that he has been dealt with and addressed by God through this preacher. Something has taken place in him and in his experience, and it is going to affect the whole of his life." Lloyd-Jones divides preaching into two elements (1) the sermon/message and (2) the delivery/preaching. In subsequent chapters he goes into the specifics of these two elements.
In Chapter 4: The Form of the Sermon Lloyd-Jones warns against preaching topically and non-contextually. A sermon should be controlled by a systematic theology that takes the whole body of biblical doctrine into account. A sermon is not an essay or a lecture. "I therefore lay down this proposition that a sermon should always be expository." But he is quick to say what this doesn't mean. "A sermon is not a running commentary on, or a mere exposition of, the meaning of a verse or a passage or a paragraph."
Chapter 5: The Act of Preaching is something that Lloyd-Jones admits is very difficult to define. So while not giving a direct definition he does go on to give some things that must be present in authentic preaching.
- "The whole personality of the preacher must be involved."
- "A sense of authority and control over the congregation and the proceedings. The preacher should never be apologetic, he should never give the impression that he is speaking by their leave as it were; he should not be tentatively putting forward certain suggestions and ideas."
- An element of freedom and of exchange
- An element of seriousness, but never dull.
- An element of zeal, concern, warmth, persuasiveness and power.
To sum it up, preaching is "logic on fire! Eloquent reason! Preaching is theology coming through a man who is on fire."
In Chapter 6: The Preacher Lloyd-Jones articulates who is to preach. He makes it very clear the preacher is a man who is called of God to preach. Preaching isn't something that anyone and everyone can or should do. He then goes into discuss the "call of God." This is a topic that isn't often discussed among pastors, but it is of paramount importance to preaching. "I would say that the only man who is called to preach is the man who cannot do anything else, in the sense that he is not satisfied with anything else...Nothing but this overwhelming sense of being called, and of compulsion, should ever lead anyone to preach."He goes on to discuss the confirmation of that call by the Church and discusses numerous ways in which the Church could and should test each man's call.
In Chapter 7: The Congregation Lloyd-Jones deals with four fallacies of the "modern man" and preaching.
- We live in visually oriented world and therefore we must do other things than preach (drama, film clips, etc.).
- We live in a post-Christian era and people don't understand our terms.
- We live in a sophisticated, scientific age and must not speak dogmatically.
- We must have common experiences and speak the "language" of our audience before they will listen.
Here is his summary: "The modern approach is based on entirely false thinking. Indeed, it is ultimately due to bad theology. It is based on a failure to realize the true nature of sin, and that sin is the problem, not sins, and that specialization on the particular forms and manifestations of sin is irrelevant and very largely a waste of time." Again the timeliness of this message for pastors today is profound.
Chapter 8: The Character of the Message might seem like a contradiction to the previous chapter, but I believe it is the balancing of what he said previously. Lloyd-Jones says, "I would emphasize equally that the preacher nevertheless has to assess the condition of those in the pew and to bear that in mind in the preparation and delivery of his message...The chief fault of the young preacher is to preach to the people as we would like them to be, instead of as they are...You do not give 'strong meat to babes', you give them milk." He goes on to give a strong warning. That should be shouted across our land and taken to heart by every pastor. "The main danger confronting the pulpit in this matter is to assume that all who claim to be Christians, and who think they are Christians, and who are members of the Church, are therefore of necessity Christians. This, to me, is the most fatal blunder of all; and certainly the commonest."
There is much more in the final eight chapters on sermons, their preparation and their delivery. As well as more instructions to the preacher in general. I cannot recommend this book highly enough and I hope I have motivated you to buy and read this wonderful book.
Labels: book reviews, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Preaching