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Don’t Stop Preaching

Author
Category Book Reviews
Date December 20, 2001

DON’T STOP PREACHING

Where are the preachers of the gospel in our land today? There are plenty of performers, but where are the proclaimers?

From two different sources this week we received exhortations about continuing to believe in preaching. I was struck with these words of Phil Eveson, the Principal of the London Theological Seminary, in the Seminary’s annual Report:

“During the recent General Election campaigning I was interested at the way the politicians of the 21st century got their messages across. They did not use drama, mime, dance or song but old fashioned preaching, spelling out their policies and urging people to vote. Despite all the modern sophisticated means of communication, they were not embarrassed to come to the people and use their voices, either in personal conversation on the doorstep, in the street and in the workplace, or to publicly proclaim their messages to the party faithful and the hostile crowds in platform speeches and in open air soapbox addresses.

“The church has an amazing and much more important message to declare from the living God that concerns not only this life but that which is to come and we are to urge people to respond to it. But who will go and make it known?

“Where are the preachers of the gospel in our land today? There are plenty of performers, but where are the proclaimers? There are books galore on preaching but where are the men called to preach, who will be persistent and faithful whether the time is favourable or not? Where are the Spirit-anointed spokesmen for God? Pray to the Lord of the harvest; ask him to send out more workers into his fields. Urge him to give the Holy Spirit in greater measure to his servants and to raise up a new generation of faithful workers who will pass on the glorious gospel with passion and power and a heart of love.”

Then, this book review from a minister, Brian Darroll, in South Africa struck the same notes. The book being reviewed is unknown to me, and though the tone of the review is a wee bit effusive for our taste the spirit is one with ours. The book is “The Eclipse of the Gospel” by Frank Allred (Evangelical Press, 2001, Paperback, 224 pages.” The reviewer writes as
follows:

All of us who truly love the truth of Scripture are sadly aware of a dreadful decline in the standard and content of preaching. Preaching has become soppy and sentimental, consisting of not much more than a quick fix for my personal feelings of depression. So much preaching that I have to listen to is limited to meeting felt needs and does not address the real needs of its hearers. So all that happens is that people live from one emotional high to the next and the preacher has to think up new gimmicks in order to attract his congregation. And all the time he is busy treating symptoms and not getting down to the real sickness in the heart sin! And so it is that I have had people say to me that they see nothing wrong with being an elder in their church, a lay-preacher and so on and still live in open sin. One man confessed that he was a elder and that he loved women he couldn’t stay away from a skirt. He was a traveller and saw nothing wrong with sleeping around on his travels. Yet the same man (a married man) can get up in a pulpit and preach! I really don’t know what he can preach, but that’s the situation we find in so many churches around the world.

And so it is that I welcome this book by Frank Allred, The Eclipse of the Gospel. In it he examines the cause of this shallow preaching that is so pervasive and he draws the correct conclusion that it stems from a lack of understanding of true theology. When I was studying for the ministry my theology teacher would repeatedly say, “Theology begins with God!” And of course, it does. Not just the word but the study as well. But modern theology begins with man and his needs and God is added, sometimes, as an afterthought. We need to recapture something of the glory of God’s sovereignty and that salvation is God’s work not man’s. We have to reclaim the biblical view that man is dead in his trespasses and sins and can do nothing to please God. This is so basic yet it has been completely forgotten in so much modern preaching.

I remember many years ago now teaching a group of preschoolers. I set a trap for them which they all fell into except one little four-year-old. I suggested that it was correct to clean up our lives before we invite the Lord Jesus in to be our best friend. All agreed that you could not invite the Lord into a dirty, sin-filled house. But this little chap jumped to his feet and with much emotion stated, “NO! Man is a sinful creature and can do no good thing to please God!” Not only did he know and understand what his parents had taught him from the catechism, but he was able to transfer that information to this new situation. Would to God more adults had his understanding as to the true relationship of man with God.

In this book you will find an expose of the false preaching of today together with what should be proclaimed. So you will discover that the central theme of the gospel is the Atonement. You will discover that the purpose of the gospel is the glory of God, not just saving sinful creatures from an unhappy state.. You will learn all about the necessity of the gospel together with its conditions. You will come to understand who the beneficiaries of the gospel are, the elect and none other. You will be exposed to the power and the blessings of the gospel and see how it must change people’s lives. The final chapter on the communication of the gospel will be a great help to all preachers who struggle with how to make an appeal that is biblical.

I couldn’t put this book down until I had read it through at one sitting took me four solid hours but was it worth it. I was greatly encouraged in my own ministry to discover that there are others who think as I do and who preach as I do and who get flack as I do when last did you receive a letter from one of your congregation saying that you were an arrogant pig always telling people they needed to be born again? On the other hand I have had no less than six people say to me this past year how much they used to hate my preaching with my insistence on man’s inability to come to God unless they were drawn and yet at the same time stressing their desperate need to repent of their sin and be born again. Yes, they used to hate that message but now they have been born again and see the glory in the gospel.

Are you feeling despondent over your preaching? Do you want to chuck in the towel? Do you look across the street at a seemingly more successful congregation, as far as numbers is concerned, and do you feel that perhaps you need to jack up your preaching. Then get this book, study it, come back to the truth of the gospel as it is revealed in the Word, and discover the need to be faithful in proclaiming the truth. The results do not depend upon you or your preaching. Salvation is of God and as long as you uplift Jesus and him crucified in your preaching you have Jesus’ own promise, “I, if I be lifted up will draw all men unto me.”

So there are two timely exhortations about never losing confidence in preaching the Word of God to this dying world.

GEOFF THOMAS

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