What is the Chief End of Preaching?

lloyd-jones-in-studyHere is what Dr. David Martyn Lloyd Jones said about preaching – all of the quotes below are from “the Doctor’s” book entitled, Preaching & Preachers.

“What is the chief end of preaching?”  I like to think it is this.  It is to give men and women a sense of God and His presence (p. 97).

For a period of about four months, “the Doctor” while ill was unable to preach at the Westminster Chapel.  In the providence of God, this afforded him “the opportunity, and the privilege, of listening to others” instead of preaching himself.  This is what he wrote as he reflected on that experience:   Continue reading “What is the Chief End of Preaching?”

“What is the Chief End of Preaching?”

Here is what Dr. David Martyn Lloyd Jones said about preaching – all of the quotes below are from “the Doctor’s” book entitled, Preaching & Preachers.

“What is the chief end of preaching?”  I like to think it is this.  It is to give men and women a sense of God and His presence (p. 97).

For a period of about four months, “the Doctor” while ill was unable to preach at the Westminster Chapel.  In the providence of God, this afforded him “the opportunity, and the privilege, of listening to others” instead of preaching himself.  This is what he wrote as he reflected on that experience:

I can forgive a man for a bad sermon, I can forgive the preacher almost anything if he gives me a sense of God, if he gives me something for my soul, if he gives me the sense that, though he is inadequate himself, he is handling something which is very great and very glorious, if he gives me some dim glimpse of the majesty and glory of God, the love of Christ my Saviour, and the magnificence of the Gospel.  If he does that I am his debtor, and I am profoundly grateful to him.  Preaching is the most amazing, and the most thrilling activity that one can ever be engaged in, because of all that it holds out for all of us in the present, and because of the glorious endless possibilities in an eternal future (p. 98).

“The Doctor” had no sympathy for many of the preachers he heard in his done.  One can only guess what he would think of many of today’s preachers.  For as one writer puts it, much of what passes for preaching today is not preaching at all – it does not qualify to be called preaching in the biblical sense.  Unlike much of today’s preaching, biblical preaching always leaves people with a sense of the divine and holy presence of God.  Much of today’s preaching fails at this point.  May the Lord help us!

Watch Dr. Lloyd Jones talk about his personal call to the ministry:

Here is a Special Encouragement & a Challenge for Preachers:

There is nothing to add to that.  Any man who has had some glimpse of what it is to preach will inevitably feel that he has never preached.  But he will go on trying, hoping that by the grace of God one day he may truly preach (p. 99).

As a preacher myself, I take great encouragement in these words and pray that by God’s grace, I might grow to become a better preacher of the Gospel.  I know that I will never preach like Dr. Lloyd-Jones did, but this one thing greatly encourages me:  By the grace of God, I can preach the same Gospel that He preached – for there is only one Gospel!  That’s why I am a preacher and that’s I still preach and by the grace of God, I am committed to go on preaching – not because I have anything of my own to offer, but because the Lord God in His grace has been pleased to put His infinite treasure (the treasure of the Gospel) in this “jar of clay” to show that the surpassing power belongs to Him and not to me (see 2 Corinthians 4:7).  To God be the glory!!

“Logic on Fire” – David Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Dr. David Martyn Lloyd-Jones (affectionately called “the Doctor” by those close to him), was a Welsh Protestant /Reformed minister and preacher of the gospel.  He was the minister of the Westminster Chapel in London for almost 30 years.  He lived from 20 December 1899 to 1 March 1981.  Before he became a preacher, he practiced medicine for some years until the Lord pressed it on his heart to leave the medical profession and become a minister of the gospel.

He was without a doubt one of the most influential preachers of the twentieth century.  He distinguished himself as an expository preacher of true biblical doctrine.  There was also a “fire” and great passion about his preaching which was very unique and distinct.  Dr. J.I. Packer, a distinguished theologian himself, is often quoted as having said that he had “never heard such preaching.”  Dr. Lloyd-Jones’ preaching came to him “with the force of electric shock, bringing to at least one of his listeners more of a sense of God than any other man.”  And of course, that “one” listener was Dr. Packer himself.

In his book, Preaching & Preachers, Dr. Lloyd-Jones defines preaching at “logic on fire”

What is preaching? Logic on fire! Eloquent reason! Are these contradictions? Of course they are not. Reason concerning this Truth ought to be mightily eloquent, as you see it in the case of the Apostle Paul and others. It is theology on fire. And a theology which does not take fire, I maintain, is a defective theology; or at least the man’s understanding of it is defective. Preaching is theology coming through a man who is on fire (p. 97).

O, how we need such preaching in our day!  “The Doctor” illustrates what he means by this.  He writes in the same book:

Let me put this again in the form of a story, an anecdote.  There was an old preacher whom I knew very well in Wales.  He was a very able old man and a good theologian; but, I am sorry to say, he had a tendency to cynicism.  But he was a very acute critic.  On one occasion he was present at a synod in the final session of which two men were preaching.  Both these men were professors of theology.  The first man preached, and when he had finished this old preacher, this old critic turned to his neighbour and said, ‘Light without heat.’  Then the second professor preached – he was an older man and somewhat emotional.  When he had finished the old cynic turned to his neighbour and said, ‘Heat without light.’  Now he was right in both cases.  But the important point is that both preachers were defective.  You must have light and heat, sermon plus preaching.  Light without heat never affects anybody; heat without light is of no permanent value.  It may have a passing temporary effect but it does not really help your people and build them up and really deal with them (p. 97).

Tomorrow, Lord willing, I hope to talk about what “The Doctor” calls “the chief end of preaching.”  But for now, I will let you meet “The Doctor” yourself:

‘Why I want the right to die’ in Scotland

I was greatly shocked when my wife shared this article with me this afternoon.  Al Jazeera published this article on their website.  I encourage you to read it here.  Independent Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP), Margo MacDonald has launched a fresh attempt to give terminally ill people in Scotland the right to choose when to die – which in my mind is outrageous and grossly immoral, cruel and careless.  It totally degrades the intrinsic value of human life as given by God the Almighty, who is our Creator (Genesis 1:27) and the Creator of heavens and earth!  This “End of Life Assistance” Bill sets out that anyone over the age of 16 could request assistance to die if that person was diagnosed as terminally ill and that he/she finds life unbearable.  Ms. MacDonald tried to get this bill passed in December 2010 but it was defeated.  According to the Huffington Post (UK), “A series of scrutiny sessions were held at the Scottish Parliament, taking in evidence from doctors in countries where forms of assisted suicide are permitted.”

I find Ms. MacDonald’s arguments flawed and unconvincing – but that’s not all that disturbs me.  The bill that she is pushing is in direct violation of the Sixth Commandment:  “Thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13).  This bill seeks to give man the legal freedom to take one’s life or that of another with impunity.

Here are some quotes from the article:

Assisted Suicide (“Mercy Killing”) – currently banned by law in Scotland & the UK:

In Scotland, as in the rest of the UK, it is currently a crime to help someone end his or her own life. A doctor who injects a patient with lethal drugs in order to kill them could be prosecuted for culpable homicide or even murder.

Margo MacDonald wants that legal ban repealed:

“If it came to the worst and I was faced with a very bitter and protracted end, I should have the right to ask for help to end my life earlier than nature intended,” Macdonald told Al Jazeera.

She added: “I would like the insurance policy of knowing that if it gets near, and I would like to shorten it, I would not be putting my family at risk. It is not about pain, it is about making sure you are still yourself.”

Margo wants autonomy not dignity – She has a warped view of “dignity” according to what she says here:

She told Al Jazeera that the same debate is going on all over the world and if her bill is passed: “Scotland would be seen as a place where humanity, above all, and individual autonomy is respected. This legislation is really about the right of a person to see their life through and keep their dignity to the very end.”

Some church leaders are fighting against this:

When this issue was last debated, the Archbishop of Glasgow, Mario Conti, told a special Mass for Healthcare workers: “Laws need to be objective in their statement of principle. It is wrong in principle for someone to take their own life; it is wrong in principle for someone to help them to do so.”

Peter Kearney, Director of the Scottish Catholic Media Office, told Al Jazeera: “Nothing has changed. Deliberate killing, even when assisting someone who is in a state of despair, is always wrong.”

Many doctors are concerned:

Many doctors are also concerned that legalizing assisted suicide could lead to frail or elderly people being coerced into taking their lives.

My Thoughts:

I hope that this bill is defeated once again in the Scottish Parliament.  I also hope and pray that Christians in Scotland and around the world will continue to speak out against this and similar violations of God’s law and order for His people.  From a human stand-point, Ms. MacDonald seems “unstoppable.”  She probably thinks so.  She is quoted as saying:

Since the defeat of my original proposal in December 2010, the volume of correspondence I’ve received on the matter, coupled with the continuing public interest, stimulated in part by some high-profile statements in favour of the general principle of assisted suicide, indicates to me a consistent level of support for individuals suffering a terminal illness or condition, for whom life becomes intolerable, to have the legal right to request help to end their life before nature decrees.

But those of us who believe in the Sovereign LORD who rules over the universe, know that the LORD is ultimately in control and that He has the power to stop this and all ills that have plagued Scotland and the world (see Proverbs 21:1).

Why Am I So Concerned for Scotland?

Just for the same reasons that I would be concerned if this was happening in any other country primarily because it goes against the will – it goes against the Law of God clearly stated in Scripture.  That’s the main reason why this disturbs me.  But there is more:

As one who has not in the least sense benefited from what the Lord has done through Scotland over the years, I cringe when I read this kind of stuff about Scotland or coming out of Scotland.  I feel a special affinity to Scotland for various reasons.  Let me mention three:

1.  The first missionary to bring the gospel to my home country (Malawi) was Scottish.  His name was Dr. David Livingstone.  Malawi is replete with monuments in honor of Dr. Livingstone and his work there – not the least of which is Blantyre, Malawi’s commercial capital which was named after Blantyre, Lanarkshire, Scotland where Dr. Livingstone was born.  I had the privilege of visiting Blantyre (Scotland) a few years ago and saw the house in which Dr. Livingstone was born and raised.  This house is now the home of the David Livingstone Center.

2.  As a Presbyterian and Reformed Christian and church minister, I owe a lot of that to what the Lord has done through Scottish men like John KnoxSamuel RutherfordRobert Murray McCheyne, Professor John Murray, from centuries gone by (just to name a few) – but also from contemporary theologians and preachers like Dr. Sinclair Ferguson, Dr. Alistair Begg, etc.

3.  I am now a gospel minister with a denomination that is rooted in Scotland, the Associated Presbyterians Church (APC) – and I feel for so many of my dear brothers and sisters in Scotland as I consider all the challenges and the spiritual battles that they face in their pursuit of Christ, His will and purposes.  I am concerned and this moves me to pray more fervently for the work of the gospel across Scotland and the UK.

Let’s Pray for Scotland, the UK and the World

Prayer is ultimately the answer – and our sure hope.  “Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.  Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain” (Psalm 127:1).

Please join me in praying that God’s will may triumph over evil and that Scotland may be turned back to the Lord.  He has done it before, He can do it again.  Even though it seems like a dark cloud is hanging over Scotland and much of the western world, the LORD God can change that.  May the Light of Christ once again shine in Scotland even from the “farthest” corners of the world (like Malawi and such places where the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is now flourishing).  Perhaps it’s time to send missionaries back to Scotland!  Our God is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we can ever ask or imagine according to His power which is at work in us (see Ephesians 3:20-21).

Praise the LORD: He Sent Us A Savior!!

“If God had perceived that our greatest need was economic, He would have sent an economist. 

 If He had perceived that our greatest need was entertainment, He would have sent us a comedian or an artist. 

If God had perceived that our greatest need was political stability, He would have sent us a politician. 

If he had perceived that our greatest need was health, He would have sent us a doctor. 

But He perceived that our greatest need involved our sin, our alienation from Him, our profound rebellion, our death, and He sent us a Savior.”

(Author:  Unknown)