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I am sharing with you few quotes from a chapter written by one of the great preacher of the 20th century Martyn Lloyd-Jones, in his seminal book on “Preaching and Preachers”


Am I called to be a preacher or not? How do you know?’ I suggest that there are certain tests. A call generally starts in the form of a consciousness within one’s own spirit, an awareness of a kind of pressure being brought to bear upon one’s spirit, some disturbance in the realm of the spirit, then that your mind is being directed to the whole question of preaching… This is something that happens to you; it is God dealing with you, and God acting upon you by His Spirit; it is something you become aware of rather than what you do… But we must go on to something yet deeper; there should also be a sense of constraint. This is surely the most crucial test. It means that you have the feeling that you can do nothing else. It was Mr. Spurgeon, I believe, who used to say to young men—’ If you can do anything else do it. If you can stay out of the ministry, stay out of the ministry.’ I would certainly say that without any hesitation whatsoever. I would say that the only man who is called to preach is the man who cannot do anything else, in the sense that he is not satisfied with anything else….that a man who feels that he is competent, and that he can do this easily, and so rushes to preach without any sense of fear or trembling, or any hesitation whatsoever, is a man who is proclaiming that he has never been ‘called’ to be a preacher. Paul in 2 Corinthians 2: 16, asks, ‘Who is sufficient for these things?’


We must present the total Gospel…In other words, while there is an aspect of preaching which is concerned to inculcate moral and ethical principles, and the application of them to life, this must never be done in isolation…the preacher must always be saying the ‘whole thing’ as it were, even while he is putting particular stress and emphasis on certain individual matters for the moment…I am contending that our primary call is to deliver this whole message, this ‘whole counsel of God’…I would emphasize here that we are to preach the Gospel, and not to preach about the Gospel.

_In other words, it easy to praise the power and authority of the Word of God and deny this claims by the way we handle it on pulpit on a weekly basis. It is one thing to say lofty things about the gospel and it is entirely another to demonstrate it in all of the task of preaching


A sermon should always be expository. But…a sermon is not a running commentary on, or a mere exposition of, the meaning of a verse or a passage or a paragraph…What you are going to say, the burden of your message arises from this exposition [of the text of scripture]. You do not start with a thought [topic], even though it be a right thought, a good thought; you do not start with that, and then work out an address on that…I have known men who have just opened the Bible to read the text. They then shut the Bible and put it on one side and go on talking. I think that is wrong from the standpoint of true preaching….It is your business [as a preacher] to search for this and to seek it diligently…Having isolated your doctrine in this way and, having got it quite clear in your own mind, you then proceed to consider the relevance of this particular doctrine to the people who are listening to you. This question of relevance must never be forgotten.


There is a very real danger at that point. The moment you have any kind of form, literary or any other, there is the danger of our becoming slaves to the form, and of becoming more interested in the way in which we say something rather than in what we are saying.

(_Lloyd-Jones goes on to contend, however, that the sermons that we see described in the bible, such as that of Peter’s and Paul’s, have a certain discernible structures to them [for instance, I perceive the following structures in their sermons: OT prophetic expectations, God’s end time salvation, and how these are fulfilled in Jesus death and resurrection, and finally the call to faith and repentance] Therefore for Lloyd-Jones, being led by the Holy Spirit in preaching does not negate preparing sermons.)


The preparation of sermons involves sweat and labour. It can be extremely difficult at times to get all this matter that you have found in the Scriptures into this particular form. It is like a potter fashioning something out of the clay, or like a blacksmith making shoes for a horse; you have to keep on putting the material into the fire and on to the anvil and hit it again and again with the hammer. Each time it is a bit better, but not quite right; so you put it back again and again until you are satisfied with it or can do no better. This is the most gruelling part of the preparation of a sermon; but at the same time it is a most fascinating and a most glorious occupation. It can be at times most difficult, most exhausting, most trying. But at the same time I can assure you that when you have finally succeeded you will experience one of the most glorious feelings that ever comes to a man on the face of this earth.

© 2016, Samson Tilahun. All rights reserved.

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