“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: