Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Preaching and Preachers - Martyn Lloyd-Jones - Book Review

Want to know what’s wrong with preaching today? If so, Martin Lloyd-Jones provides some answers in his book Preaching and Preachers. This book contains a series of sixteen lectures which were published in the 1970s. Despite their age, the comments that Jones makes still accurately describe many of the unbiblical trends in today’s preaching.

Jones’ first few lectures in Preaching and Preachers focus on the state of preaching in his day. For the remainder of the lectures, Jones focuses on addressing pastors (or those who are studying to be pastors) on how they should conduct themselves, especially in the area of preaching.

One of the key concepts Jones emphasizes is balance. A preacher can be funny, but should not be too funny. A preacher should prepare for his sermons, but should not prepare so much that the Spirit is has no freedom to work.

The Holy Spirit, according to Jones, is at the heart of biblical preaching. Jones believes that a pastor should not read his sermon in the pulpit; neither should a pastor memorize his sermon and recite it. Instead, preaching should be spontaneous— for that is what separates a sermon from a lecture. Jones says that in “a lecture you know what is happening, you are in control; but that is not the case when you are preaching. Suddenly, unexpectedly, this other element may break into a service—the touch of the Spirit of God” (Ch. 8).

The job of the pastor is to preach what the Spirit leads him to preach. Jones writes that one “of the remarkable things about preaching is that often one finds that the best things one says are things that have not been premeditated, and were not even thought of in the preparation of the sermon, but are given while one is actually speaking and preaching” (Ch. 5). Jones says that “you can be meticulous in your preparation [of a sermon]; but without the unction of the Holy Spirit you will have no power, and your preaching will not be effective” (Ch. 16).

The Holy Spirit is just one of many subjects Jones addresses. He also offers some helpful comments regarding altar calls. To put it bluntly, Jones believed that most altar calls were manipulative, superficial, and unbiblical ways to bring people to "salvation". The dimming of lights and playing of music after a sermon to make people "make decisions" is spiritual trickery.

I find it comforting to know that in an era in which many Protestants began to favor Rome-like, mechanical methods that put the mighty act of regeneration under the power of man, there were those like Jones who stood against such falsities, firmly preaching real, solid, biblical truth.

Jones’ lectures are not perfect. Sometimes I disagreed with him. At times his opinions were strange, such as his opinion that churches should not have choirs. Yet for the vast amount of material in Preaching and Preachers, I rarely disagreed with him.

For the most part, Jones' opinions are firmly rooted in Scripture. If you read this book, you will walk away from it sensing that Jones was a man devoted to Jesus Christ— a man who believed that salvation was a work of God that could not be manipulated by any man— a man who believed that that the Holy Spirit blows where He wills, accomplishing His purposes through preaching and preachers.

If you are a pastor or are planning on entering the pastorate, I highly recommend this book. If you have no plans to become a pastor, you will not be able to make as many direct application from the lectures, but you will walk away from the book with a better idea of what separates Spirit empowered preaching from every other kind of preaching.

For more book reviews click here.

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