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.
- The relationship between the pew and the pulpit is an important issue that needs to be addressed. There has been a shift towards emphasizing the pew which is controlling the pulpit.
- This new way of thinking is wrong and misguided. It goes against experience and the tradition of preaching over the centuries. Great preachers like Martin Luther and Charles Spurgeon preached to all people in the congregation.
- This modern idea is based on false thinking and bad theology. It wrongly assumes that people today can't understand theological terms like justification and sanctification or that they need the gospel presented in a particular way based on their circumstances. But the gospel has always used unique language and terms that need to be explained.
- The preacher does not need to know the specific sins and struggles of each person in the congregation. His job is to preach the gospel which addresses the common human problem of sin. The Holy Spirit then applies the message to each person.
- 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 does teach that preachers should be flexible in how they present the gospel. But the message itself should not change. The end does not justify the means. The method should not contradict the message.
- The world expects Christians to be different. Trying to win people by being just like them is misguided. Jesus attracted sinners because he was different.
- The subject matter of the gospel demands reverence and seriousness. Light entertainment and jocularity are incompatible with the weighty topics of sin, salvation, and eternity.
- These modern methods cannot properly convey the truth of the gospel. They may lead to decisions but not true conversion. They give the impression that minor adjustments are all that is needed rather than radical regeneration.
- The real issue is a failure to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit. Dividing up people into groups and saying the gospel needs to be presented differently to each is unbiblical. The gospel is for all people and all humanity is the same in sin and need for salvation.
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.