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With such an introduction I can only say that if this book does not instill in you a desire to pursue preaching, then preaching is not for you! Lloyd-Jones paints preaching as such a high, sacred task—the greatest privilege a child of God can be given. As such, Lloyd-Jones has little patience for the personal stories and the frequent humor so common today from the pulpit; such lightheartedness can often diminish a sermon to merely "entertainment". He detests making light of something that can influence souls for all eternity.
In these lectures, Lloyd-Jones is highly opinionated throughout which helps make them a very enjoyable read. He talks about everything from the layout of the building to the structure of the service. He talks about the use of notes, manuscripts, and the details of preparation. He talks about the preacher, and the self-discipline necessary to accompany such a calling (“The preacher’s first and most important task is to prepare himself, not his sermon”). He discusses what the preacher should be reading, and how he should occupy his time throughout the week before and after sermons. He further discusses preaching methods, exegesis, patterns of speech, the use of illustrations…etc. Above all, Lloyd-Jones discusses unction, this Holy Spirit endowed quality, that alone can make preaching fruitful: “You can have knowledge, and you can be meticulous in your preparation; but without the unction of the Holy Spirit you will have no power, and you preaching will not be effective.”
For those unsure if preaching is their calling, like myself, Lloyd-Jones offers some curious wisdom: If you can do anything else, do it. If you can avoid the pulpit, avoid it! Pursue preaching if and only if you find that you cannot get away from it; if it has its consuming hold on you and you can truly do nothing else! If you are indeed called, God will make it known at the appropriate time. This, I think, is great advice to those of us who are trying to discern what the Lord may have for us in ministry.
Preaching for Preachers is a great book, and though you may even disagree with Lloyd-Jones at various parts, the internal dialogue with him will no doubt prove fruitful. I will close this review with this quote:
“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 a sense that, though he is inadequate in himself, he is handling something which is very great and very glorious, if he gives me some dim glimpse of the majesty and the glory of God, the love 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.”
I have listened to many of Lloyd-Jones' sermons on iTunes and have been impressed with everything about his preaching, especially the message and the passion of it. He is a proven preacher that can substantively write about preaching for preachers. I think in the last century he must be one of the best.
This quote provides a glimpse of a major emphasis of Lloyd-Jones: "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." In his teaching, he focuses on the presence, message and purpose of God, as He uses a person to proclaim the gospel. Along those lines, he asserts that the greatest need in the church is the restoration of spiritual authority in the pulpit. He commends preachers to pursue the holiness, purity and love of God that will allow them to be a vessel for God.
Lloyd-Jones has a very high view of the pulpit and the preacher's role. He considers it a sacred calling that requires a lifestyle conformed to the calling of Jesus Christ. Therefore, the most important thing for the preacher is his own sanctification and discipleship. Lloyd-Jones gives many positive exhortations, warnings, insights, practical suggestions and advice. He reveals his own passion and love for preaching and preachers in this book. There were a few pieces of advice I question, but only a few on minor points. The heart of this book is right on and profound.
The essays included in this edition are helpful and appreciated.
The later additions and the discussion questions do not add much.
The Doctor not only expresses his general opinions about preaching, instead he touches on very specifics matters like humor in the pulpit, the relationship of the preaching and music, the place of reading in the life of a preacher, and many more subjects.
The main thing I took out of reading this book is a fresh passion for the Truth and a love to proclaim that Truth through preaching. However, that was not the only thing that I took out of reading the book. There is a second very important lesson for me: the Doctor Lloyd-Jones had his opinions and he shared them clearly and strongly. I must learn to do the same.