The Primacy of Preaching

I had my first meeting yesterday after church with fourteen men and young men who want to learn about the calling and the work of preaching. We enjoyed lunch around the table in a classroom and for 90 minutes discussed the first eight chapters of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ classic work, “Preaching and Preachers.” I hadn’t read that book since seminary days and it was just as powerful in this visit as it was the first time I read it. And as Micah said in class yesterday, “This book is just as relevant today as it was when it was written in 1970.”  The same problems with preaching and in the church that plagued Lloyd-Jones and his contemporaries in the middle part of last century are still here…only worse.

Here is an excerpt from the book:

“People say that the preachers stand in their pulpits and preach their sermons, but that there before them are individuals with their individual problems and sufferings. So the argument runs, you ought to preach less and spend more time doing personal work and counseling and interviewing.

My reply to this argument is to suggest, once more, that the answer is to put preaching into the primary position. Why? For this reason that true preaching does deal with personal problems, so much so that true preaching saves a great deal of time for the pastor. I am speaking out of forty years of experience. What do I mean? Let me explain.

The Puritans are justly famous for their pastoral preaching. They would take up what they called ‘cases of conscience’ and deal with them in their sermons; and as they dealt with these problems they were solving the personal individual problems of those who were listening to them. That has constantly been my experience. The preaching of the Gospel from the pulpit, applied by the Holy Spirit to the individuals who are listening, has been the means of dealing with personal problems of which I as the preacher knew nothing until people came to me at the end of the service saying, ‘I want to thank you for that sermon because if you had known I was there and the exact nature of my problem, you could not have answered my various questions more perfectly. I have often thought of bringing them to you but you have now answered them without doing so.’

The preaching had already dealt with the personal problems. Do not misunderstand me, I am not saying that the preacher should never do any personal work; far from it. But I do contend that preaching must always come first, and that it must not be replaced by anything else.”

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Preaching & Preachers, p.37

I am excited about what God will do the fifteen of us as we meet monthly to press in for a closer look at the primacy of preaching. To God be the glory!

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