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Sermon #PP01

Primacy of Preaching

A Sermon on Preaching



Sermon Description

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 The world says it is outdated, but to Christians, it is the way God intended His word to be taught through the ages.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

Sermon Breakdown

  1. There is a decline in preaching and its importance in the modern church. This is due to general attitudes in society and specific issues within the church.
  2. In society, there is a distrust of eloquence and oratory. People prefer plain speaking and regard oratory as dishonest or manipulative. There is also an emphasis on reading over listening.
  3. Within the church, there has been a loss of belief in biblical authority and doctrine. Preaching has declined as the church has turned to moralism and ethics.
  4. There has also been a reaction against the "pulpitiers" of the 19th century who were focused on oratory and professionalism over truth. Their style has brought preaching into disrepute.
  5. The wrong view of the sermon as an essay or literary work has also contributed to the decline in preaching. The focus has been on form over substance.
  6. The increased emphasis on the formal elements of worship like liturgy, ritual, and music has led to a decrease in preaching. Preaching is seen as less dignified.
  7. The use of entertainment and testimonies has replaced preaching. Preaching is seen as unattractive while entertainment and stories are more appealing.
  8. Personal counseling and social work have also replaced preaching. Preaching is seen as ineffective for modern problems. Social work and relationships are seen as more helpful.
  9. Some argue the church itself is an obstacle to faith and should be abandoned for social work and relationships. Preaching and the church are seen as outdated.
  10. However, preaching is the primary task of the church according to the Bible and church history. Jesus and the apostles focused on preaching and teaching over other works.
  11. When the church has declined, it has been due to a lack of preaching. When it has reformed or revived, it has been through a renewal of preaching. Strong preaching marked the Reformation and other revivals.

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.