Wednesday, June 14, 2006

D.M. Lloyd-Jones on seeking the Spirit's power in preaching

Following on from the post below, here is Dr. Lloyd-Jones on seeking the power of the Spirit in preaching. This is the final, rousing exhortation in Preaching and Preachers:

What then are we to do about this? There is only one obvious conclusion. Seek Him! Seek Him! What can we do without Him? Seek Him! Seek Him always. But go beyond seeking Him; expect Him. Do you expect anything to happen, when you get up to preach in a pulpit? Or do you just say to yourself, 'Well, I have prepared my address, I am going to give them this address; some of them will appreciate it and some will not.?' Are you expecting it to be the turning point in someone's life? Are you expecting someone to have a climactic experience? That is what preaching is meant to do. That is what you find in the Bible and subsequent history of the Church. Seek this power, expect this power, yearn for this power; and when the power comes, yield to Him. Do not resist. Forget all about your sermon in necessary. Let Him loose you, let Him manifest His power in you and through you. I am certain, as I have said several times before, that nothing but a return of this power of the Spirit on our preaching is going to avail us anything. This makes true preaching, and it is the greatest need of all today - never more so. Nothing can substitute for this. But, given this, you will have a people who will be anxious and ready to be taught and instructed, and led further and more deeply into 'the Truth as it is in Jesus'. This 'unction', this 'anointing', is the supreme thing. Seek it until you have it; be content with nothing less. Go on until you can say, 'And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and power.' He is still able to do 'exceedingly abundantly above all that we can ask or think.'
From Preaching and Preachers p. 325, Hodder and Stoughton, 1985.


Chris TerryNelson said...

Wonderful stuff. D.M. doesn't mess around!

I admit that I have red flags when I read that we are to expect "climactic experiences." While preaching is always an expectation of the Word of God to be spoken and to be heard (regardless of the preacher's skill or lack thereof), the climax comes simply in that event. I think D.M. would agree with that.

However, evangelicals in my experience have sought to bottle the "effect," i.e. a changed life, an emotional high, an experience, etc. in such a way that the Spirit's power and the truth of God are "exchanged for a lie." Thus, when God's Word is spoken and it is:
A.) Ignored
B.) Disobeyed
the conclusion is that we didn't pray hard enough for the Spirit to show up. Or the preaching was bad. The ONLY outcome that is allowed is a "climactic" experience. Sometimes there can be unintended spiritual abuse: "What? You didn't hear? There's something wrong with you! You just need to pray harder!"

However, since the Word of God constitutes the REAL climax for humanity in itself, it does this without any power from the hearer, just like it does without any power from the preacher.

Guy Davies said...

Preaching should never aim at producing experiences as an end in themselves. When preachers try to do that, congregations can be emotionally manipulated. We should never berate our people for not "getting it". It is our job to make sure they do! But true preaching, as Jonathan Edwards taught, should stir up holy affections towards God.

Yes, the Word of God should be obeyed by the people however the poorly the Pastor preached that Sunday. If God says, "do this!" we just have to do it by his grace rather than wait for some kind of experience before we obey.

Having said that, I believe that there is more to preaching than simply bringing a Biblical message to the people. I like Paul's statement: "our gospel did not come in word only but also in power and in the Holy Spirit". Should we not long for that? Peter said something similar concerning those who preached the gospel "with the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven". Of course, the Spirit always works with and by the Word. I have sometimes felt an utter failure after preaching, but a member of the congregation has testified to being really helped. Thank God for that! But there is always possibility, a hope that the Spirit will take our words and bring them home to the people with unmistakable power. That is what we should seek.


Guy Davies