You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Preaching’ category.
by Bob Hostetler
But you, O Lord, said, “Be clever as serpents and innocent as doves.” Let me retain innocence and simplicity in the midst of this complex world. I realize that I have to be informed, that I have to study the many aspects of the problems facing the world, and that I have to try to understand as well as possible the dynamics of contemporary society.
But what really counts is that all this information, knowledge and insight allow me to speak more clearly and unambiguously your truthful word.
“John Livingstone spent the whole night prior to June 21, 1630, in prayer and conference, being designated to preach next day. After he had been speaking for an hour and a half a few drops of rain disconcerted the people, but Livingstone asking them if they had any shelter from the storm of God’s wrath went on another hour. There were about 5oo converted on the spot. “
~ Livingstone of Shotts.
Prayer must carry on our work as much as preaching; he preacheth not heartily to his people that will not pray for them.
~ Richard Baxter, 1615 – 1691
by ROBERT STRIVENS
On the whole, pastors in the West today minister without seeing revival on a large scale. Yet many of the role models we have adopted from history did labor in revival times: Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, and Charles Spurgeon, among them. They have a great deal to teach us, of course. But their very success, in terms of numbers converted, can have a discouraging effect on us who minister in leaner days.
It is worth examining, therefore, the lives of men and women who lived in more ordinary times, yet served the Lord faithfully and effectively. One such person was a contemporary of Jonathan Edwards. Like Edwards, he ministered in Northampton, but this was Northampton in England, not New England. He was Philip Doddridge (1702-51), who served for 20 years as pastor of a fairly large congregation in that town.
Doddridge also ran an academy that trained men for pastoral ministry, kept up a continual flow of publications, maintained a wide correspondence, and sustained a regular itinerant preaching ministry. Although he lived during the early years of the Evangelical Revival in Britain, his own ministry was largely unaffected by it, as he was confined to existing congregations of Independents and Presbyerians.
How then did he operate, and what can we learn from him? Here, briefly, are 10 lessons:
1. Doddridge’s priority was his own congregation. He pastored them faithfully, preaching to them every Lord’s Day and on weekday meetings, unless he was away from town. He admitted that he did not visit them as often as he would have liked. To compensate, he divided up the congregation with his elders, so that each individual did receive regular pastoral visits from a church officer, if not from the pastor himself.
2. He believed firmly in the importance of a well-ordered local church—church membership, properly appointed church officers, effective church discipline, reverent worship, a frequent Lord’s Supper, and regular biblical preaching.
3. He took great care to maintain his daily devotional life, with extended periods of private prayer and Bible reading, usually two or three times each day. He kept a journal that recorded his times of devotion as well as his reading and studies. He was attentive to the confession of personal sin, to intercession for his family and congregation, to pleading with the Lord for greater usefulness in his ministry, and to adoration of his triune God. He valued the Lord’s Supper highly indeed as an essential means of grace for the believer.
By Ray Ortlund
“The true minister of Christ feels impelled to preach the whole truth, because it and it alone can meet the wants of man. What evils has this world seen through a distorted, mangled, man-molded gospel! What mischiefs have been done to the souls of men by men who have preached only one part and not all the counsel of God! . . .
I have seen the young believer, just saved from sin, happy in his early Christian career, and walking humbly with his God. But evil has crept in, disguised in the mantle of truth. The finger of partial blindness was laid upon their eyes, and but one doctrine could be seen. Sovereignty was seen, but not responsibility. . . . I could point you to innumerable instances where harping upon any one peculiar doctrine has driven men to excess of bigotry and bitterness. . . . There is a necessity that the whole gospel should be preached, or else the spirits, even of Christians, will become marred and maimed. . . . The believer in Christ, if he is to be kept pure, simple, holy, charitable, Christlike, is only to be kept so by a preaching of the whole truth as it is in Jesus.
And as for the salvation of sinners, ah, my hearers, we can never expect God to bless our ministry for the conversion of sinners unless we preach the gospel as a whole. Let me get but one part of the truth, and always dwell upon it, to the exclusion of every other, and I cannot expect my Master’s blessing. If I preach as he would have me preach, he will certainly own the word; he will never leave it without his own living witness. But let me imagine that I can improve the gospel, that I can make it consistent, that I can dress it up and make it look finer, I shall find that my Master is departed and that Ichabod is written on the walls of the sanctuary. How many there are kept in bondage through neglect of gospel invitations.”
Prayer must carry on our work as much as preaching; he preacheth not heartily to his people that will not pray for them.
~ Richard Baxter, 1615 – 1691
Ray Ortlund|4:04 pm CT
“We may preach, but it is Thine to apply. Lord, apply it. Come forth, great Spirit. Come from the four winds, O Breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, O Spirit of God, come forth!”
C. H. Spurgeon, quoted in Erroll Hulse, The Great Invitation (Welwyn, 1986), page 179.
The story of Evan Roberts and the Welsh Revival of 1904-5 is the most thrilling, but also the most sad and sobering in all revival history. On the one hand we see one hundred thousand souls in Wales coming to Christ in just nine months, from November 1904 to August 1905. This was the beginning of a world-wide revival that ushered hundreds of thousands more into the Kingdom of God. On the other hand, we see Evan Roberts, the principle revivalist of this move of God, becoming deceived, deluded and finally suffering a nervous breakdown which took him out of the public limelight to live the life of a recluse. Furthermore, the fruits of the revival in Wales (but not world-wide) were soon lost through criticism, fears of deception and a Welsh theology which suppressed the assurance of salvation. Within a generation there were no signs that a revival had ever occurred. Surely there are some important lessons for 21st Century Christians to learn here?
Evan Roberts was born and raised in a Welsh Calvinist Methodist family in Loughor, on the Glamorgan and Carmarthenshire border. As a boy he was unusually serious and very diligent in his Christian life. He memorised verses of the Bible and was a daily attender of Moriah Chapel, a church about a mile from his home. Even at 13 years of age he began to develop a heart for a visitation from God. He later wrote “I said to myself: I will have the Spirit. And through all weathers and in spite of all difficulties I went to the meetings… for ten or eleven years I have prayed for revival. I could sit up all night to read or talk about revivals. It was the Spirit who moved me to think about revival.”
After working in the coal mines and then as a smithy, he entered a preparatory college at Newcastle Emlyn, as a candidate for the ministry. It was 1903 and he was 25 years old.
It was at this time that he sought the Lord for more of His Spirit. He believed that he would be baptised in the Holy Spirit and sometimes his bed shook as his prayers were answered. The Lord began to wake him at 1.00 am for divine fellowship, when he would pray for four hours, returning to bed at 5.00 am for another four hours sleep.
He visited a meeting where Seth Joshua was preaching and heard the evangelist pray “Lord, bend us”. The Holy Spirit said to Evan, “That’s what you need”. At the following meeting Evan experienced a powerful filling with the Holy Spirit. “I felt a living power pervading my bosom. It took my breath away and my legs trembled exceedingly. This living power became stronger and stronger as each one prayed, until I felt it would tear me apart. My whole bosom was a turmoil and if I had not prayed it would have burst…. I fell on my knees with my arms over the seat in front of me. My face was bathed in perspiration, and the tears flowed in streams. I cried out “Bend me, bend me!!” It was God’s commending love which bent me… what a wave of peace flooded my bosom…. I was filled with compassion for those who must bend at the judgement, and I wept. Following that, the salvation of the human soul was solemnly impressed on me. I felt ablaze with the desire to go through the length and breadth of Wales to tell of the saviour”.
Needless to say, his studies began to take second place! He began praying for a hundred thousand souls and had two visions which encouraged him to believe it would happen. He saw a lighted candle and behind it the rising sun. He felt the interpretation was that the present blessings were only as a lighted candle compared with the blazing glory of the sun. Later all Wales would be flooded with revival glory.
The other vision occurred when Evan saw his close friend Sydney Evans staring at the moon. Evan asked what he was looking at and, to his great surprise, he saw it too! It was an arm that seemed to be outstretched from the moon down to Wales. He was in no doubt that revival was on its way.
He then felt led to return to his home town and conduct meetings with the young people of Loughor. With permission from the minister, he began the meetings, encouraging prayer for the outpouring of the Spirit on Moriah. The meetings slowly increased in numbers and powerful waves of intercession swept over those gathered.
During those meetings the Holy Spirit gave Evan four requirements that were later to be used throughout the coming revival:
1. Confession of all known sin
2. Repentance and restitution
3. Obedience and surrender to the Holy Spirit
4. Public confession of Christ
The Spirit began to be outpoured. There was weeping, shouting, crying out, joy and brokeness. Some would shout out, “No more, Lord Jesus, or I’ll die”. This was the beginning of the Welsh Revival.
The meetings then moved to wherever Evan felt led to go. Those travelling with him were predominately female and the young girls would often begin meetings with intense intercession, urging surrender to God and by giving testimony. Evan would often be seen on his knees pleading for God’s mercy, with tears. The crowds would come and be moved upon by wave after wave of the Spirit’s presence. Spontaneous prayer, confession, testimony and song erupted in all the meetings. Evan, or his helpers , would approach those in spiritual distress and urge them to surrender to Christ. No musical instruments were played and, often, there would be no preaching. Yet the crowds continued to come and thousands professed conversion.
The meetings often went on until the early hours of the morning. Evan and his team would go home, sleep for 2–3 hours and be back at the pit-head by 5 am, urging the miners coming off night duty to come to chapel meetings.
The revival spread like wildfire all over Wales. Other leaders also experienced the presence of God. Hundreds of overseas visitors flocked to Wales to witness the revival and many took revival fire back to their own land. But the intense presence began to take its toll on Evan. He became nervous and would sometimes be abrupt or rude to people in public meetings. He openly rebuked leaders and congregations alike.
Though he was clearly exercising spiritual gifts and was sensitive to the Holy Spirit , he became unsure of the “voices” he was hearing. The he broke down and withdrew from public meetings. Accusation and criticism followed and further physical and emotional breakdown ensued.
Understandably, converts were confused. Was this God? Was Evan Roberts God’s man or was he satanically motivated? He fell into a deep depression and in the spring of 1906 he was invited to convalesce at Jessie Penn-Lewis’ home at Woodlands in Leicester.
It is claimed that Mrs Penn Lewis used Evan’s name to propagate her own ministry and message. She supposedly convinced him he was deceived by evil spirits and, over the next few years co-authorised with Evan “War on the Saints”, which was published in 1913. This book clearly delineates the confusion she had drawn Evan into. It left its readers totally wary of any spiritual phenomena of any kind or degree. Rather than giving clear guidelines regarding discerning satanic powers, it brought into question anything that may be considered, or that might be described, as Holy Spirit activity. Within a year of its publication, Evan Roberts denounced it, telling friends that it had been a failed weapon which had confused and divided the Lord’s people.
Evan stayed at the Penn-Lewis’ home for eight years, giving himself to intercession and private group counselling. Around 1920 Evan moved to Brighton and lived alone until he returned to his beloved Wales, when his father fell ill in 1926. He began to visit Wales again and eventually moved there in 1928 when his father died.
Nothing much is known of the years that followed. Evan finally died at the age of 72 and was buried behind Moriah Chapel on Jan 29th 1951.
May his life be both an example and a warning to all those who participate in revival to maintain humility; keep submissive to the Spirit; be accountable to godly men and women; remain true to their calling; use the gifts God has given, but be wise in the stewardship of their body.
Bibliography An Instrument of Revival, Brynmor Pierce-Jones 1995, published by Bridge Publishing (ISBN 0-88270-667-5).
Desiring God Blog
God’s Word, Good Exposition, Great Joy, Much Strength
(Author: John Piper)
Here’s another reason I am joyfully committed to expository exultation, that is, preaching.
Look at this amazing statement of what biblical exposition is like when it’s done well—in the power of God’s Spirit and riveted on biblical texts.
Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people…. [T]he Levites helped the people to understand the Law…. They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading…. And all the people went their way…to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them. (Nehemiah 8:5-8,12)
First, there was a reader of the word of God. Then there were those who explained the words. Then there was true understanding in the minds of the people. Then there was great rejoicing “because they hand understood the words.”
It is astonishing to me how many pastors apparently don’t believe in pursuing the joy of their people in this way. Evidently they think it doesn’t work. I’m sure there are many reasons for this abandonment of biblical exposition.
But I simply want to wave the flag and say: There was joy then. And there is joy today when God’s people see real, divine meaning in texts that they had not seen before.
If you want to see a strong church, keep in mind that it is no accident that in this very context the writer says, “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).
What joy? The joy of verse 12: “All the people went their way…to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them.”
God’s truth followed by faithful, Spirit-anointed exposition, leads to great joy, which is the strength of God’s people. So give the sense, brothers. Give the sense!