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Sermons: Preaching and Preachers

Series Summary

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 …

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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 The world says it is outdated, but to Christians, it is the way God intended His word to be taught through the ages.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.