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Sermon #PP15

Pitfalls and Romance of Preaching

A Lecture on the Romance of Preaching



Sermon Description

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.

Sermon Breakdown

  1. The question of repeating sermons arises in ministry. Some people are surprised preachers repeat sermons, thinking it almost sinful. However, repeating a sermon in a different church or place is legitimate and beneficial.
  2. A sermon is not just an exposition but a message and burden. Some sermons are given in a special way, with unusual clarity and order, and are used by the Spirit. Why not repeat these sermons? A preacher should always give their best.
  3. Sermons grow and develop through preaching. A preacher sees more while preaching than while preparing. Familiarity with a sermon also improves preaching effectiveness and freedom.
  4. How often should a sermon be repeated? Not a question of figures but stopping when it no longer grips, moves or blesses the preacher, as then it becomes mechanical or a performance.
  5. Warnings for repeating a sermon elsewhere: avoid dishonesty like pretending to search for the right word; changing the text is not enough, as listeners can tell; and adding illustrations does not cover it. If repeating a sermon, do not start with the same first sentence.
  6. A sermon tends to have a character of its own, like a novel's characters handling the author. Some sermons preach themselves, some require careful handling. Know your sermons to pick the right one for the occasion.
  7. Preaching others' sermons is utterly dishonest unless acknowledged. Stories of Spurgeon and a student preaching Spurgeon's sermon, and a preacher using another's sermon to restore Spurgeon's confidence. Warnings against the practice, though understandable in desperation. If done, do not use the same first sentence or claim the sermon's development.
  8. The romance of preaching: the thrill of preaching a fresh sermon; the relationship between preacher, people and preparation; the uncertainty, as true preachers do not know what will happen; the effect on health, as preaching can invigorate; knowing on Saturday the likely Sunday result when gripped in preparation; themes developing while preaching, with sermons growing; being restrained from preaching the whole sermon, then seeing the reason next week; never knowing the listeners or what may happen, like conversion or a word for a desperate need. Examples of a man kept from suicide by a prayer and a couple given an answer. In God's hands, nothing is impossible.

Sermons: Preaching and Preachers

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.