Sermons: Preaching and Preachers
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’s collection of 16 preaching sermons entitled "Preaching and Preachers" were delivered in 1969 to students at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. The collection also includes 2 Q&A sessions that were held after …
Primacy of Preaching
After 42 years in ministry, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones proclaims the most urgent need in the church today is that of preaching. The world says it is outdated, but to Christians, it is the way God intended His word to be taught through the ages. Without question, there are things in the church that are wrong, such as traditionalism and institutionalism. However, preaching is still its primary task. In this sermon titled “Primacy of Preaching,” Dr. Lloyd-Jones identifies the key reasons why preaching has suffered a serious downgrade in the church today. He begins recounting those who make light of the orator’s ability, suggesting that if a man is a great speaker, then he is not honest. Another reason preaching has suffered is that with all the availability of information through radio, TV, and books, there is less perceived need for preaching. Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains that it is one thing to be a master of fine phrases, but not the master of the sacred text. Essays are not sermons, and eloquent oratory can be the form replacing the substance. He further points out how the emphasis on entertainment has damaged the power of the pulpit saying, “So much time is spent creating the atmosphere that there’s no time to preach in the atmosphere.” This downgrade impacts those outside the church. Dr. Lloyd-Jones proclaims that Jesus did not come into the world to heal the sick; He came to save sinners. The world did not stop Christ from doing miracles, but they crucified Him for His preaching. The preacher’s priority is not to serve tables, but to do the ministry of the word and prayer. Renewed preaching always heralds the dawn of reformation.
No Substitute to Preaching
In this sermon titled “No Substitute,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones opens the word of God and confronts the tendency to depreciate preaching at the expense of other forms of activity. As those who have the good news, Christians must tell the truth. Other agencies, politicians, cults, false religions, and nonprofits can do their work, but they cannot preach the gospel. They can ease the pain of the human condition, but they cannot change the heart. The primary task of the church is not to make a person happy, good, or even well off. The primary task of the church is to deliver the truth about humanity and the remedy in Christ. The danger is that the church will tinker with the general symptoms and not address the cause. It takes a specialist to isolate the radical problem and deal with it. This is the work of every preacher, says Dr. Lloyd-Jones. When the church takes care of its primary purpose, God works through it to provide relief to others. The Protestant Reformation birthed hospitals, schools, many other relief efforts, and provided a stimulus to science, literature, etc. Dr. Lloyd-Jones adds that the preaching of the gospel from the pulpit, applied by the Holy Spirit, has been a means of dealing with personal problems that the preacher knows nothing about. Counseling has its place, but most counseling will be done from the pulpit. Anything else is a failure to fulfill the great mandate given to the church.
The Sermon and Preaching
What is preaching? In this sermon titled “The Sermon and Preaching,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says the preacher is the man to deliver the message from God to the people. The preacher is an ambassador for Christ. He’s not there to entertain people toward Christ. Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains that preaching is a transaction where the people are given the mind of God through the written word, explained by a faithful preacher. The danger arrives when preaching is replaced by digital versions, print versions, group discussions, and therapy sessions that foster opinion. People are dealing with the living God and they must never approach the subject in the cavalier manner as if His very existence were up for debate. Since the heart of preaching addresses humanity’s eternal destiny and design, one cannot reduce this message to a trivial discussion. There is no neutral point where Christian and non-Christian can meet. There’s no morally neutral ground that they can agree on since one is of darkness and the other is of light. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians, God uses the foolish to expose the supposedly wise. Too much of the world today—and the church today—wants to make a rebellious person look wise. Apart from humility, no one will ever understand revelation. Jesus Himself thanked God that He hid the gospel from the “wise” and revealed it to “babies.” As Dr. Lloyd-Jones concludes, true preaching lifts up Christ so that He draws people to salvation.
Form of The Sermon
In this sermon titled “Form of the Sermon,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones argues that all preaching should be theological. In both evangelistic preaching and general preaching, the preacher must know both biblical theology and systematic theology; without them the preacher risks error. But while content is of utmost importance for preaching, Dr. Lloyd-Jones states, the form of the sermon is equally important. Those who rightly value content in preaching can sometimes misunderstand the value and the art of composing a sermon. What form should theological preaching take? Does the preacher think of his sermon in the same way one thinks of writing an essay? If not, what is the difference? Is there a difference between a sermon and a lecture on theology? How about a commentary on the passage? Is there a difference between a biblical sermon and a running commentary on a text? Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explores these questions in this important lecture on preaching. While the proclamation of sound doctrine is non-negotiable for preaching, sermons will not serve the people of God unless the form is equally considered. Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones helps preachers think through this important aspect in service of God’s church.
How much value is there in a sermon not delivered? Clearly, the mere research and writing of a manuscript or sermon outline cannot be considered preaching. Preaching is both the sermon and the act of delivering the message, says Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. In this lecture on preaching, he focuses on the general elements preachers need to be aware of for their calling. While Dr. Lloyd-Jones avoids providing the preacher rules or regulations for preaching, he does propose a number of important traits and qualities required for proper delivery of the word of God to the people of God. Based upon his many years of experience, the British evangelical preacher shares perhaps some unfamiliar words of wisdom on preaching that contemporary preachers need. How does one approach the art of preaching? Have they thought about the role of authority, persuasion, or zeal in preaching? Does being serious about preaching mean being dull or boring? Allow Dr. Lloyd-Jones to help preachers think about their own approach to sermon delivery by listening to this lecture from the series on “Preaching and Preachers”.
Who is to preach? What is the call to ministry? These questions come naturally to any man who rightly feels the weight of delivering the word of God to the people of God. Can any man stand in the pulpit and preach? Are there problems with the increasing number of churches relying on lay preachers? In this lecture on the call to ministry, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones tackles this controversial topic from his series on “Preaching and Preachers”. More than this, he challenges preachers to think deeply about the notion of calling. While the idea of calling is often used by Protestants, sometimes it remains ambiguous in meaning and empty, and without specifics on how to apply the idea in a concrete manner. With great clarity Dr. Lloyd-Jones outlines not just a definition of calling but how a man can begin to test his own calling. Dr. Lloyd-Jones considers further the training of preachers. He discusses various departments of theology such as systematic theology, the use of biblical languages, and church history. Listeners may find with Dr. Lloyd-Jones a surprising alternative to the dominant training model for homiletics. This lecture will benefit the listener whether they are a lay person in their church, a man testing his calling to preach, or a seasoned pastor trying to help other men discern their calling.
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones stood at a significant turning point in the history of homiletics. While modern preachers often assume a fluid style of preaching for the sake of modern listeners, Dr. Lloyd-Jones warned against the rising tendency for the congregation to dictate from the pulpit. What is the relationship between the pew and the pulpit? How are preachers to understand their method of preaching in light of their congregation? In this sermon titled “The Congregation” from the “Preaching and Preaching” series, Dr. Lloyd-Jones cautions that ministers must not be swept away by objections to traditional pulpit ministry. He outlines the new arguments that were being promoted as the most effective way to reach modern listeners with the gospel. Responding point-by-point to these new homiletical methods, Dr. Lloyd-Jones counters them from a theological point of view by seeking to understand the nature of humanity, the unity of the church, and the role of the Holy Spirit in preaching. Always seeking to find balance, however, Dr. Lloyd-Jones also examines 1 Corinthians 9:19–23 and highlights the importance of flexibility within the pulpit. Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones helps preachers discern a balanced approach to preaching to a modern congregation.
Character of the Message
Fallen nature is such that human beings can seek to justify themselves before God by any means. Christian ministers know that faithful attendance on Sunday morning, while essential to Christian spiritual maturity, does not guarantee the eternal destiny of a person’s soul. A person can spend their whole life in a pew and still not have saving faith. Yet, how often do preachers neglect regular preaching of the gospel to their own congregation? In this sermon titled “Character of the Message” from “Preaching and Preachers” lecture series, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explores this dynamic of evangelistic preaching by ministers. It is true that even Christians can benefit from this kind of preaching. Nothing deters self-satisfied Pharisees more than feeling the weight of their sin and hearing about God’s saving grace through Christ. Dr. Lloyd-Jones encourages pastors to be honest with their assessment of the congregation. While the pew should not dictate the pulpit, Dr. Lloyd-Jones insists that it is the duty of all Christian ministers to be truthful about the spiritual condition of the congregation. Listen as he challenges ministers to know their flock and to care for them where they are.
Preparation of The Preacher
The vocation of a minister is unique. A minister does not leave his work behind, whether late at night or on vacation. A minister is a man who is always preparing; he never frees himself from his calling because everything he does finds relevance to his work. How then does a preacher organize his life in light of this reality? What are some practices that will aid the minster in his preparation for preaching? The key factor, says Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, is for the minister to know himself. In this lecture on the preparation of the preacher, from the “Preaching and Preachers” lecture series, Dr. Lloyd-Jones articulates several points for ministers to consider as they labor to prepare for weekly preaching. Under this guiding principle of knowing one’s own temperament and personality, he encourages pastors in the fundamentals of prayer and Bible reading. Also in this lecture, Dr. Lloyd-Jones challenges pastors to other kinds of reading. Whether it is devotional reading of the Puritans, or more intellectual material such as theology, church history, or apologetics, the overarching goal is to prepare the minster for his pulpit ministry. Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones outlines a blueprint for personal preparation that will benefit the minister as well as the congregation.
Preparation of the Sermon
The charge to stand in front of God’s people and faithfully deliver God’s word is a serious calling. Congregations can understand and sympathize with the sheer weight of this task. Often, however, what is missed by Christian laypeople is the mental labor of sermon preparation from which faithful sermons emerge. The Christian minister is overwhelmed with decisions during this time that he may not be prepared for through theological education alone. And an honest minister might wonder if he is doing this part of his job correctly. In this lecture on preparing a sermon, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones considers some of the mechanics of sermon preparation such as topical preaching, expository preaching, and tips for covering the whole counsel of God’s word. Working under the framework of Christian liberty and the freedom of the Holy Spirit, Dr. Lloyd-Jones talks about the pros and cons of other topics such as preaching through a catechism, the mechanics of sermon series, evangelistic opportunities through the church calendar, and holiday sermons.
Shape of the Sermon
The shape of the sermon should reflect the goal of any sermon. The shape is to show the original context, the meaning of a passage, and apply it to life today. In this sermon titled “Shape of the Sermon,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones discusses outlines, the main points of a sermon, the place and importance of headings, and the balance between the written and extemporaneous sermon. First, he warns against professionalism. Too many sermons have been ruined by one’s vain attempt to manipulate ideas to fit a clever sermon outline. Form is important, but it must never become more important than the sermon itself. Each point must inevitably arise out of the text. Dr. Lloyd-Jones then addresses the tradition of writing out a sermon, addressing its benefits and its dangers. Finally, he deals with the topic of using quotations in sermons. His concern lies in the motivation behind such a practice. Never should the preacher’s concern be an appearance of scholarship or intellectualism. The sermon must always be prepared for a mixed group of people, helping everyone in the congregation. Overly academic notions should, therefore, be avoided. Listen in as Dr. Lloyd-Jones instructs his students on the importance of the sermon’s shape, content, and structure.
Illustrations, Eloquence, and Humor in Preaching
The preacher must freely preach the word of God in a way that is natural, yet prepared. In this sermon titled “Illustrations, Eloquence, and Humour,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones addresses the preacher’s need for freedom in the pulpit. On one hand, some preachers are bound to a manuscript and never make eye contact with his people. On the other, the preacher is unprepared and forgets what he intended to say. He argues for a well-prepared outline. Additionally, as the man prepares his sermon, he must consider the use of illustrations. Many preachers focus heavily on stories as their sermon becomes nothing more than an exegesis of their own illustrations. The illustration in a sermon must never be an end to itself. They must be used carefully and minimally, only to illustrate the truth of Scripture. Dr. Lloyd-Jones continues his lecture with thoughts on eloquence and humor. While the apostle Paul was eloquent, eloquence was never his goal. We should be wary of preachers who are more concerned with how something is said rather than what is said. The same applies to humor. A humorous individual will certainly, and naturally, use humor in the pulpit. But this should never become the goal in preaching.
What to Avoid in Preaching
As the proclamation of God’s word is the task of every preacher, certain things must be avoided. These things creep into the preaching ministry and detract the man from his work. In this sermon titled “What to Avoid,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones continues his lectures on preaching and preachers and begins with a few observations on radio preaching. As this grew in popularity during his day, the radio posed new problems for the preacher which led to a sense of professionalism in the pulpit. The preacher must not be bound by time, always watching himself, tremendously interested in techniques. In contrast to this performance, he must forget himself as the Spirit leads his preaching. Other things to avoid in the pulpit include intellectualism and an affinity for too many polemics in the pulpit––always preaching what one is against as opposed to what one is for. Dr. Lloyd-Jones warns against an imbalance between exposition and exhortation. Some preachers expose the Scriptures with no exhortation to the people. Other preachers burden the people with exhortation with little exposition. As Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains what preachers must avoid, listen in and be challenged by his primary concern that the people of God receive the word of God in a manner that is clear.
In this lecture on church music and altar calls, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones discusses matters facing the church today that threaten the preaching ministry. Regarding music, Dr. Lloyd-Jones is concerned that congregations are opting for more special singing, quartets, and choirs, and focusing less on the preaching ministry. The more a church is focused on her building, ceremony, special singing and music, the less the church experiences a robust and Biblical spirituality. This leads, he believes, to an entertainment style of ministry. All instruments are to accompany congregational singing alone. Additionally, there is the danger of altar calls. He laments the rise of the altar call, rooting it in emotionalism which imposes a wrong pressure on the will. In contrast, Dr. Lloyd-Jones presents a Biblical case for appealing to the mind. Sinners do not have the inherent power of “making a decision” for Christ; rather they must be regenerated. The conversion of a soul is not produced by an emotionally-based, momentary decision––it is the work of God. What the preacher longs for is solely the work of the Holy Spirit and therein one finds power in preaching––not in the techniques of the preacher but in the movement of God.
Pitfalls and Romance of Preaching
Should a preacher repeat his sermon? What are the dangers in doing so? Is it ever appropriate for a preacher to preach another person’s sermon? In this sermon titled “Pitfalls and Romance,” these questions are handled as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones lectures under the topic of preaching and preachers. A sermon takes on a personality of its own. As the preacher comes to know his sermons, there are certain benefits in preaching them again and again. Yet there are pitfalls. The preacher who is no longer moved by his sermon turns the act into a mere performance. The same applies to preaching another person’s sermon. While it may be useful on occasion, Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains the dangers in this habit. He emphasizes, however, that there is nothing like waking into one’s own pulpit with a fresh sermon. There is an uncertainty to the service and the preacher doesn’t really know what’s going to happen. Referencing this as the “romance” of preaching, he talks of times when his first point became its own sermon in the pulpit and the remaining points became a series. While repeating sermons may be useful, what a great privilege for the preacher to remain for many years in the same pulpit, preaching fresh sermons to a congregation.
The Spirit and The Power
What is the power in preaching? Is it in the preacher’s own preparation and scholarship? If it is, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones argues that they are to be most miserable. In this sermon titled “The Spirit and the Power,” Dr. Lloyd-Jones expounds upon what he believes to be the most important ingredient in preaching: the unction, or power, of the Holy Spirit. Consider the apostles: they had all of the teaching and preparation, but this was not enough. The Holy Spirit must come and give these men power to preach the gospel. In one’s own strength, the preacher is filled with only fear and trembling. He is a weak man; an “earthen vessel.” Dr. Lloyd-Jones tells of a minister who went to bed feeling utterly incapable, and awoke the next morning feeling like a lion ready to preach. What happened? This man was filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. This power in preaching gives the preacher clarity of thought and speech. It gives assurance and confidence in their proclamation of God’s word. This power, however, is not something the preacher can conjure up. It is a gift of God. Unction is something that comes upon, and takes hold of, the preacher. Listen as he encourages his students to pray for this power in their preaching.
Questions & Answers (1)
As Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones finishes his lectures on preaching and preachers, he answers student questions. In this first part titled “Questions & Answers (1),” Dr. Lloyd-Jones responds to the following questions: If he is preaching God’s word, why would a preacher ever cease to be gripped by his sermon? Why use illustrations from Scripture as opposed to modern-day situations? Is the preacher synonymous with elder? Reflecting on these questions and more, he warns against the repetition of sermons becoming mechanical. Addressing illustrations, he emphasizes the benefits of using Scripture. On the question of preaching and elders, Dr. Lloyd-Jones appeals to the use of multiple preachers and multiple preaching opportunities within the church. This leads to a question on the modern day use of the term “spirit-filled” and charismatic gifts. The power for preaching, Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains, is the anointing of the Spirit on a person for service and preaching. Spirit-filled preaching, therefore, is preaching that is clear, pointed, and comes with the forcefulness of truth. Listen in as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones interacts with his students in a winsome and humorous manner, emphasizing and summarizing important points from his “Preaching and Preachers” lecture series.
Questions & Answers (2)
In this final moment with his students, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones discusses their questions. The lecture contains a wide variety of topics such as hosting a Q&A after the sermon, Sunday school, multi-denominational meetings and societies, children sermons, professionalism, and announcements during the service. In this lecture titled “Questions & Answers (2),” listen to this dialogue as Dr. Lloyd-Jones interacts with these men in a caring and casual fashion. Primary themes from his “Preaching and Preachers” lecture series are emphasized. The power of the Holy Spirit must be evident, not only in the preacher, but also upon the listener. Dr. Lloyd-Jones wants nothing that will detract from this. As preaching must be central, Sunday schools, and other supplementary meetings, are subservient yet strengthened by the solid proclamation of the word. Dr. Lloyd-Jones is an advocate of meeting with ministers across denominational lines and gives practical tips on hosting these meetings. Amidst the variety of topics addressed, his love for the proclamation of God’s word, and his belief that nothing should become a distraction from the centrality of preaching rings again and again. He closes by encouraging his students in these challenging days: theirs is a great and magnificent opportunity to preach God’s word in this most difficult time.