"As a servant.-In the East, servants always stand in the presence of their master, watching his hand. The Queen of Sheba said to Solomon: “Happy are these Thy servants, which stand continually before Thee, and hear Thy wisdom.” So it is said of the angels, that “They do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.” Even when most engaged in the service of the saints, they feel under His all-seeing, holy, living eye. So ought faithful ministers to feel. They should feel constantly in His presence,-under His soul piercing, gentle guiding, holy, living eye. “I will guide thee with Mine eye.” “The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous.” Ah! How often we feel before man! Then all power withers, and we become weak as other men; but oh, how sweet to feel in the presence of God, as if there were no eye on us, but God’s! In prayer, how sweet to feel before Him; to kneel at His footstool, and to put our hand upon the mercy-seat, no curtain, no veil, no cloud between the soul and God! In preaching, how sweet to say like Elijah, when he stood before Ahab, “I stand before the Lord God of Israel! To stand at His feet, in His family, in His pavilion, oh, believers, it is then we get above the billows! The applause of men, the rage and contempt of men, then pass by us like the idle wind which we regard not. This is a minister like a rock in the ocean; the mountain-billows dash upon its brow, and yet it stands unshaken."~Robert Murray M'Cheyne.
In this Gospel sermon: Part 15 of our series on The Attributes of God we look at: -God's patience and long suffering towards us is not meant to be a licence to sin but to lead us to repentance. -How we the Christians are to be patient with others. -Don't take any chances with your soul. If you are professing to be a Christian whilst holding on to sin, then let it go.
"Come, all of you, come, and behold him stretched out for you; see his hands and feet nailed to the cross. O come, come, my brethren, and nail your sins thereto; come, come and see his side pierced; there is a fountain open for sin, and for uncleanness: O wash, wash and be clean: come and see his head crowned with thorns, and all for you. Can you think of a panting, bleeding, dying Jesus, and not be filled with pity towards him? He underwent all this for you. Come unto him by faith; lay hold on him: there is mercy for every soul of you that will come unto him. Then do not delay; fly unto the arms of this Jesus, and you shall be made clean in his blood.
O what shall I say unto you to make you come to Jesus: I have showed you the dreadful consequence of not repenting of your sins: and if after all I have said, you are resolved to persist, your blood will be required at your own heads; but I hope better things of you, and things that accompany salvation. Let me beg of you to pray in good earnest for the grace of repentance. I may never see your faces again; but at the day of judgment I will meet you: there you will either bless God that ever you were moved to repentance; or else this sermon, though in a field, will be as a swift witness against you. Repent, repent therefore, my dear brethren, as John the Baptist, and as our blessed Redeemer himself earnestly exhorted, and turn from your evil ways, and the Lord will have mercy on you."~George Whitefield
Looking for a husband, wife, job? Wondering whether or where to go to college? What to do when you need advice in other times of trials or day-to-day life?
Note: Pastor Tim remarks about professing Christians who won't go to him or others who they know will give them biblical advice because they don't want to hear it and so they instead choose to run to fools to get the council they want to hear. As a Pastor I too have many times experienced this. Don't be like them!
Prov 18:22 He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favour from the Lord.
1.A wife – manhood, womanhood
1)God made them m/f, Gen 1.27 male and female he created them
2)God made them equal, Gal 3.28 (1)in worth, dignity (2)in opportunity of salvation (3)in opportunities of sanctification (4)in opportunities of serviceability in kingdom
3)God made them different (1)physically, 1Pet 3.7 (2)spiritually, 1Th 2:7, 1Th 2:11, 1Tim 2:12 (3)vocationally, Tit 2.5
4)God made them to be one
2.Finding a good wife
1)We are instrumental in finding Prov 31:10 An excellent wife, who can find? Gen 4:19 And Lamech took to himself two wives Gen 6:2 sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives Gen 11:29 And Abram and Nahor took wives for themselves. Gen 28:1 You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan. Gen 36:2 Esau took his wives from the daughters of Canaan: Ruth 1:4 And they took for themselves Moabite women as wives; Mark 12:20 There were seven brothers; and the first took a wife Mat 1:20 Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife
2)Dating – hazards (1)A place of temptation (2)Liable to emotional promiscuity (3)Liable to defrauding (4)Liable to be inaccurate (5)Liable to injury (6)Liable to callousness
3)Trusting God, from the Lord (1)Example -- Adam, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Boaz (2)Counsel (3)Character (4)Be ready
3.God’s favour on having a good wife 1)Examples 2)Pro 31
"Ah, believers, you are a tempted people! He suffered being tempted, just that He might succour them that are tempted. The high priest of old not only offered sacrifice on the altar,- his work was not done when the lamb was consumed. He was to be a father to Israel, he carried all their names graven over his heart,- he went in and prayed for them within the veil. He came out and blessed the people, saying, "The Lord bless thee and keep thee. The Lord make His face shine," etc. (num 6:24-26).
So it is with the Lord Jesus. His work was not all done on Calvary. He that died for our sins lived to pray for us,- to help in every time of need. He is still man on the right hand of God. He is still God, and therefore, by reason of His divinity, is present here this day as much as any of us. He knows your every sorrow, trial, difficulty; every half-breathed sigh He hears, and brings in notice thereof to His human heart at the right hand of God, His human heart is the same yesterday, today and forever; it pleads for you, thinks of you, plans deliverance for you.
Dear tempted brethren! go boldly to the throne of grace, to obtain mercy and find grace to help you in your time of need.
Are you bereaved of one you loved? Go and tell Jesus; spread out your sorrows at His feet. He knows them all; feels for you in them all. He is a merciful High Priest. He is faithful too, never awanting in the hour of need. He is able to succour you by His word, by His Spirit, by His providence. He gave you all the comfort you had by your friends. He can give it you without them. He has taken away the stream that you may go to the fountain.
Are you suffering in the body? Go to this High priest. He is intimately acquainted with all your diseases: He has felt that very pain. Remember how, when they brought to Him one that was deaf and had an impediment in his speech, He looked up to heaven and sighed, and said, Ephphatha! He sighed over his misery. So He sighs over you. He is able to give you deliverance, or patience to bear it, or improvement by it.
Are you sore tempted in soul --put into trying circumstances, so that you know not what to do? Look up; He is able to succour you. If He had been on earth, would you not have gone to Him-would you not have kneeled and said, Lord, help me? Does it make any difference that He is at the right hand of God? He is the same yesterday, today and forever."~Robert Murray M'Cheyne from sermon on Heb 2:16-18
"What say you? Are you resolved to live godly in Christ Jesus, notwithstanding the consequence will be, that you must suffer persecution? You are beginning to build; but have you taken our Lord's advice, to “sit down first and count the cost?” Have you well weighed with yourselves that weighty declaration, “He that loveth father or mother more than Me, is not worthy of Me;” and again, “Unless a man forsake all that he hath he cannot be my disciple?” Perhaps some of you have great possessions; will not you go away sorrowful, if Christ should require you to sell all that you have! Others of you again may be kinsmen, or some way related, or under obligations, to the high-priests, or other great personages, who may be persecuting the church of Christ: What say you? Will you, with Moses, “rather choose to suffer affliction with the people of God, than enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season?”
Perhaps you may say, my friends will not oppose me. That is more than you know: in all probability your chief enemies will be those of your own household. If therefore they should oppose you, are you willing naked to follow a naked Christ? And to wander about in sheep-skins and goats-skins, in dens and caves of the earth; being afflicted, destitute, tormented, rather than not be Christ's disciples? You are now all following with zeal, as Ruth and Orpah did Naomi, and may weep under the word; but are not your tears crocodiles tears? And, when difficulties come, will you not go back form following your Lord, as Orpah departed form following Naomi? Have you really the root of grace in your hearts? Or, are you only stony-ground hearers? You receive the word with joy; but, when persecution arises because of the word, will you not be immediately offended?
Be not angry with me for putting these questions to you. I am jealous over you, but it is with a godly jealousy: for, alas! how many have put their hands to the plough, and afterwards have shamefully looked back? I only deal with you, as our Lord did with the person that said, “Lord, I will follow thee withersoever thou wilt. The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the son of man, (says he) hath not where to lay his head.” What say you? Are you willing to endure hardness, and thereby approve yourselves good soldiers of Jesus Christ? You now come on foot out of the towns and villages to hear the word, and receive me as a messenger of God: but will you not by and by cry out, Away with him, away with him; it is not fit such a fellow should live upon the earth?
Perhaps some of you, like Hazael, may say, “Are we dogs, that we should do this?” But, alas! I have met with many unhappy souls, who have drawn back unto perdition, and have afterwards accounted me their enemy, for dealing faithfully with them; though once, if it were possible, they would have plucked out their own eyes, and have given them unto me. Sit down therefore, I beseech you, and seriously count the cost, and ask yourselves again and again, whether you count all things but dung and dross, and are willing to suffer the loss of all things, so that you may win Christ, and be found in him: for you may assure yourselves, the apostle hath not spoken in vain, “All that will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution.”~George Whitefield
1.Children are a great blessing, Psalm 127:5 "Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate." Psalm 128:4 "Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the LORD."
2.Children are not always a blessing 1 Kings 1:6 "And his father had not displeased him at any time in saying, Why hast thou done so? and he also was a very goodly man; and his mother bare him after Absalom."
3.The child’s self-will must be broken Proverbs 29:15 "The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame."
4.Reprove firmly; mean what you say, 1 Samuel 2:23 "And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people."
1 Samuel 3.13 "For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not."
5.Don’t exasperate the children Colossians 3.21 "Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged."
6.Instill a spirit of discipline in the household, Hebrews 12,
2 Timothy 1.7 "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."
7.Teach them to work Genesis 24.20 "And she hasted, and emptied her pitcher into the trough, and ran again unto the well to draw water, and drew for all his camels."
8.Do all you can together as a family Psalm 127 "1Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain. 2It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep. 3Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. 4As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. 5Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate."
Acts 2:46 "And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart." 9.Father and mother must show deep unity Psalm 133.1 "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!"
10.Teach them to fear God Psalm 34.11 "Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD." 11.Cry for grace Hebrews 4.16 "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."
"Brethren I'll tell you this: If all of a sudden you see a brother or sister in need and your first thoughts are not: "O man, how can I get in their shoes and help bear that burden", but rather your first thoughts are: "O man, if I have to help them then I'm not gonna be able to do this, I'm not going to be able to do that". God forbid brethren! Those early Christians sold their homes to help needy Christians. So what if you have to wear old clothes or get the cable TV turned off. Brethren, listen to me: are you ready to stand before the Lord on Judgement Day and say "No Lord, I did not help my brother when I saw him in need, but Lord I had the Discovery channel, Lord I had this great big 90 inch plasma HD, I had that! I didn't help that sister, but Lord look at my i-phone, I had one of those, isn't this impressive?" Brethren, that's not impressive, what's impressive is the Macedonians, that's impressive." ~Tim Conway
"Whenever you hear someone preach, ask yourself this question: Why did Christ need to suffer and die on a cross in order for this sermon to make sense? And pastors, it wouldn't hurt for you to ask yourselves the same question." from White Horse Inn.
"I've said part of the trouble with these people is that they are morbidly occupied with themselves. They haven't learned that as Christians they should finish with self, deny self, take up their cross and follow Him. Leave yourself in His hands, utterly and absolutely, past, present and future. Ah yes, but why are they morbidly preoccupied with themselves? The answer is of course that they're not sufficiently occupied with Him. And that is the explanation of this condition: it is a failure to know Him and His ways as we should know them. My dear friends if we only spent more of our time looking at Him, we'd soon forget ourselves... You've come into the Christian life, very well then, stop looking at yourself and begin to enjoy Him! " ~Martyn Lloyd Jones from Spiritual Depression-pt 'Vain Regrets'. See also:Are you a Christian? - Tim Conway (Bible Study on Assurance of Salvation) Excellent
"Often on earth, when one believer begins to praise God for what He has done for his soul, it stirs up the hearts of others. So in heaven, when the angels hear the voice of redeemed sinners,-brands plucked out of the fire,-standing in near the throne, they will obtain a ravishing view of the glory of God, His mercy and grace, they will fall down and worship God. They will not envy the redeemed their place; but, on the contrary, be filled with intense praise by hearing what God has done for their souls. How do you feel of others being saved and brought nearer to God than you? Do you envy and hate them, or do you fall down and praise God for it? " Robert Murray M'Cheyne from sermon on Rev 7:9-17.
"There, there, by faith, O mourners in Zion, may you see your Saviour hanging with arms stretched out, and hear him, as it were, thus speaking to your souls; “Behold how I have loved you! Behold my hands and my feet! Look, look into my wounded side, and see a heart flaming with love: love stronger than death. Come into my arms, O sinners, come wash your spotted souls in my heart's blood. See here is a fountain opened for all sin and all uncleanness! See, O guilty souls, how the wrath of God is now abiding upon you: come, haste away, and hide yourselves in the clefts of my wounds; for I am wounded for your transgressions; I am dying that you may live for evermore. Behold, as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so am I here lifted up upon a tree. See how I am become a curse for you: the chastisement of your peace is upon me. I am thus scourged, thus wounded, thus crucified, that you by my stripes may be healed. O look unto me, all ye trembling sinners, even to the ends of the earth! Look unto me by faith, and you shall be saved: for I came thus to be obedient even unto death, that I might save that which was lost.”~George Whitefield
"On earth, there are many that cannot believe in an electing God-that God chose them for no good in them; but in heaven they all feel it, and give Him all the praise. On earth, many speak of making themselves willing; but in heaven they sing "Salvation to God." On earth, many go about to establish their own righteousness; in heaven, "glory to the Lamb." On earth, many take Christ as part of their righteousness, and their duties as part; in heaven, all give glory to the Lamb. What say you to this song? Does it find an echo in your heart? Remember you must begin it now, if you are to sing it afterwards." Robert Murray M'Cheyne from sermon on Rev 7:9-17.
Our weekly prayer meeting at Middleton Puritan Fellowship is no longer on Tuesday and has now been changed to Thursday. This is better as people who travel from afar for our Thursday evangelism 4pm-6.20pm in Manchester can also join us in prayer to cry out to God on behalf of the souls who we've shared the Gospel with.
"Now I am talking to preachers especially. Don't try and shape great sermons. Try to preach and bring God to people. Forget yourself and forget how you are saying the thing. It is a terrible temptation, isn't it, when you know you have got to go and face people and you want to show them how good you are. You want to show them how you can use English and how well you know your Bible, and how much of the Putians you have read -- and you've read Berkhof as well! People don't, primarily, need to know that you have read Berkhof; they need to know that you are living with Jesus Christ, that Jesus Christ is important for you, and He is important for them."
In this Gospel sermon: Part 14 of our series on the Attributes of God we look at: -That salvation is all of God's Grace. -The importance of looking to Christ and not ourselves -God's grace in trials -How Christ longs for the believer.
"John Bunyan (1628-1688) tended towards a more universal atonement. In his Reprobation Asserted, he argued that the atonement underlies the Gospel offer. Therefore, we preach to all because Christ died for all. If the atonement was limited to the elect alone, then the reprobate who hear and reject the Gospel deserve no extra punishment. Furthermore, if the atonement were limited, then no man could know that Christ had died for him and, consequently, saving faith could not contain the essential assurance that 'Christ died for me.'" ~Curt Daniel, The History and Theology of Calvinism (Springfield, IL: Good Books, 2003), 76.
"Learn the true way of coming to peace.-It is by looking to manifested Jesus. Some of you think you will come to peace by looking in to your own heart. Your eye is riveted there. You watch every change there. If you could only see a glimpse of light there, oh, what joy it would give you! If you could only see a melting of your stony heart, if you could only see your heart turning to God, if you could only see a glimpse of the image of Jesus in your heart, you would be at peace; but you cannot,-all is dark within. Oh, dear souls, it is not there you will find peace! You must avert the eye from your bosom altogether. You must look to a declared Christ. Spread out the record of God concerning His Son. The Gospels are the narrative of the heart of Jesus. Spread them out before the eye of your mind, till they fill your eye. Cry for the Spirit to breathe over the page, to make a manifested Christ stand out plainly before you; and the moment that you are willing to believe all that is there spoken concerning Jesus, that moment you will wipe away your tears, and change your sighs for a new song of praise"~Robert Murray M'Cheyne from sermon on 1 John 1:1-4
"I sat down under His shadow with great delight." Songs 2:3
"All true believers have sat under the shadow of Christ. Some people think that they shall be saved because they have got a head-knowledge of Christ. They read of Christ in the Bible, they hear of Christ in the house of God, and they think that is to be a Christian. Alas! my friends, what good would you get from an apple-tree, if I were only to describe it to you-tell you how beautiful it was-how heavily laden with delicious apples? or, if I were only to show you a picture of the tree, or if I were to show you the tree itself at a distance, what the better would you be? You would not get the good of its shade or its pleasant fruit. Just so, dear brethren, what good would you get from Christ, if you only hear of Him in books and sermons, or if you see Him pictured forth in the sacrament, or if you were to see Him with your bodily eye? What good would all this do, if you do not sit down under His shadow? Oh, my friends, there must be a personal sitting down under the shadow of Christ if you would be saved! Christ is the bush that has been burned, yet not consumed. Oh, it is a safe place for a Hell deserving sinner to rest!" ~Robert Murray M'Cheyne
During the Second World War, a Scotsman who was in the service and was visiting London, went to Westminster Chapel. But the Chapel was closed, damaged by bombing, but on a piece of paper posted as a note, visitors were directed to a nearby hall. The visitor described a 'thin man' wearing a tie calling the people to worship. He thought the man was a church officer, and he appreciated his prayer, but then the man began to preach, beginning quietly enough. "This must be Martyn Lloyd-Jones," he thought. But for the next 40 minutes, he was unconscious of anything else in the world, hearing only this man's words. He had been caught up in the mystery of preaching. This man later became a well-known Church of Scotland minister named Tom Allen.
When he left that service, Tom Allen was taken up with the message, not the preacher. Lloyd-Jones (MLJ) would have thought little of conference addresses like this one about himself. He thought messages about contemporary men had done great injury, especially during the Victorian period. With man-centredness being the terrible bane of today's church, there is a danger in drawing attention to personalities. MLJ would quote the words of God, "My servant Moses is dead so arise and go over Jordan." He prevented several would-be biographers from writing anything, and reluctantly consented to an official biography, if only something could be written which would encourage those who were entering the gospel ministry.
MLJ believed that God was the God of tomorrow who would raise up servants who would enjoy blessings that he himself had not known. Frequently when he prayed it was particularly for a recovery of authority and power in preaching.
One must add another observation, that preaching was not MLJ's exclusive concern. He was concerned with the church fellowship, prayer meetings, and the promotion of foreign missionaries, but he was convinced that the spiritual health of the church depended on the state of the pulpit. On behalf of Christ, the true preacher speaks and the Lord himself is building his church in his sovereign way. So MLJ was conscious of what he spoke of as the romance of preaching. The preacher is but an instrument in the Lord's hands: the preacher is not in control. Preaching is the highest and most glorious calling to which anyone could be called.
So when we come to the subject of authority in preaching, there are a number of ways this could be addressed. The New Testament terminology on this theme should be studied, e.g. that 'Jesus spoke with authority', the phrase 'the word came with power', and the word 'boldness' which is surprisingly frequent in the NT.
The characteristics of preaching with power:
1. It always is attended by a consciousness of the presence of God.
Though a worshipper may be meeting in the midst of a large congregation of people, when the preaching is with authority, the individual forgets the person he has come with and the building they are sitting in, and even the one who is preaching. He is conscious that he is being spoken to by the living God. Thus it was in Acts 2. A remarkable illustration of this is the spiritualist woman in Sandfields in Wales, drawn to hear MLJ and was conscious that she was surrounded by 'clean' power. For the first time she was conscious she was in the presence of God. Thomas Hooker had such a sense of God about him that it was said that he could have put a king in his pocket.
2. There is no problem of holding the attention of the people.
It is a problem to keep people's attention. The preacher has his chain of thought, and all the people also may have theirs which are all very different so that they are taking in very little from the preaching. But authoritative preaching gets inside people because it speaks to the heart, conscience and will. Skillful oratory cannot come anywhere near to that preaching. True preaching made a moral and emotional earthquake in those who heard the word at Thessalonica. The well-remembered ship builder who built ships in his mind during Sundays' sermon could not lay the first plank when he was listening to George Whitefield preach. Conviction of sin and the reality of the living God became far more important to him than his business.
One Friday night in his series of lectures on theology, MLJ was preaching from Revelation on the final judgment on Babylon. Anyone listening to that exultant message would have found it impossible to have been occupied with any other subject; the great reality was such that awareness of anything else disappeared. The very date of that occasion was accurately quoted, easily memorable to the speaker because the next day he was getting married, but all thoughts of that were gone as he saw the overthrow of great Babylon.
3. Even children can understand it.
There is a mistake in thinking that preaching is chiefly to address the intellect, and thus the will. Rather preaching is to address the heart and soul of men and women. Preaching which accomplishes that can arrest a child as easily as a grown-up. Children did listen to MLJ because of the character of the preaching and the sense of God about it.
4. It is preaching that results in a change in those who listen.
It may be repentance; it may be restoration, or reconciliation; it may be strength given for those in the midst of trials, but powerful preaching always brings some real change. Sometimes they went away indignant and some of them were later converted. You cannot be apathetic under true preaching. Felix trembled. There was no certainty of conversions, but there was a degree of certainty that there will be power in that preaching. In Mrs. Bethan Lloyd-Jones' book on Sandfields, there is a reference to a professor of law at Liverpool who said that there were two men who kept the country from communism - Aneurin Bevan and Martyn Lloyd-Jones. His preaching affected communities. On November 15, 1967, he was preaching in Aberfan a year after a local disaster. His text was Romans 8:18: "the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory to be revealed in us." It had a great impact on the perplexed little religious community in the Taff valley.
What is necessary for powerful preaching and what elements produce it?
1. Sermons will not be marked by authority and power unless they are marked by truth that the Holy Spirit can honor.
The Word of God is to be exegeted and explained. That has to be the heart of the sermon. There is a real danger that we become over concerned about such things as delivery, while the New Testament is insistent on the content: "let him speak as the oracles of God." The authority of the preaching comes from the text of Scripture. It is God-given power which honors his own word.
Dr Lloyd-Jones grew up in a vague sentimental era with churches fascinated with the personalities and quirks of famous men. MLJ as a man was absorbed with the glory and the greatness of the truth. A preacher lives in the truth. He expected the preacher to go through the whole Bible in his personal devotions once each year. He expected him to continue to read theology as long as he lived. The more he read, the better. Preaching is theology coming through a man who is on fire.
In the latter part of his ministry, there was a change in emphasis. In the first 30 years there was a stress on the importance of the historic faith, and then in the last decades a new emphasis emerged, not on the recovery of truth, but with the accompanying need of power to proclaim it.
2. The man himself is a part of the message.
He can read all the best books and give out a well-rounded exegesis of the text, but somehow the man himself has not become a part of the truth. The less we say of ourselves in preaching the better, but the Holy Spirit does not work in preaching except through the man, and so, inevitably, not only does the message compel attention, but the man himself. The man becomes a part of the message. What does that mean?
A] The preacher must know the power of the message he is bringing to others. When MLJ was 25 and at the cross-roads of his life, he became engaged to Bethan Philips, and she became conscious that her future husband was considering becoming a preacher. She was very concerned because she had never heard him preach. At that point a letter came from a missionary society inviting them to become medical missionaries in India. She was challenged by this invitation, but MLJ had no interest at all. Bethan said to him, "But how do you know that you can preach?" "I know I can preach to myself", he replied. He knew the power of the truth in his own heart.
When he was preaching on Ephesians 2 on fulfilling the lusts of the flesh and the mind, he raised the question about what they were? He interjected that "as I was preparing this sermon, it filled me with a loathing and hatred of myself. I look back and I think of the hours I have wasted in mere talk and argumentation. And it was with one end only--simply to gain my point and to show how clever I was" ("God's Way of Reconciliation", p.65). So MLJ was preaching to himself before he spoke to others.
B] The Holy Spirit must produce the feelings in the preacher's heart that must be in harmony with what the Spirit has breathed out. Paul writes, "Knowing the terror of the Lord we persuade men." Again he speaks of some "with tears" that they are enemies of the cross. One finds phrases like, "I tell you weeping ...I am glad and rejoice with you all." There was something in the way these preachers spoke who were used by God- "I preached what I smartingly did feel," said Bunyan. A most important part of preaching is exhortation. In preaching we move people to do what they are listening to, and to this end there has to be a felt consciousness in the preacher of the truth of what he is saying. We have to bring our feelings into harmony with the stupendous nature of what we are saying. The men most used of God in their pulpits are those who know they had fallen far short of the wonder that should characterise the preaching.
C] The more he becomes part of his message then the more he forgets himself. What is the main feeling in the preacher? It should be love - to God and to man. It is the very opposite of self-centredness. Love seeks not her own. The needs of the people spoken to take over. We forget ourselves. A baptism of Holy Spirit love gives us a love for people.
Preaching Under the Influence of the Holy Spirit
There is a total insufficiency in ourselves or in anyone else in the world, so that we cannot preach without the Holy Spirit. I Cor 2:3 - is the key text, "And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling." God makes us weak and so enables us to become true preachers. Real authority always comes out of felt weakens, and then God uses us. The preacher is the last person to be praised. To be clapped when he had finished would have horrified him.
Bethan Lloyd-Jones once listed to some men speaking about her husband and she interjected, "No one will understand my husband who does not realise that he was first an evangelist and a man of prayer." MLJ loved the hymn of Oswald Allen, "Today thy mercy calls us..." especially these final lines:
When all things seem against us, To drive us to despair, We know one gate is open, One ear will hear our prayer.
That is what he believed. His public pastoral prayer lifted many burdens long before the preaching began. He rested ultimately on the Holy Spirit being given to them that ask him. The real preacher is a mere voice sounding in the wilderness. MLJ was criticised for being too dogmatic and authoritarian. If we are preaching from God then that has to be delivered with faith and confidence that we knows what God is saying. You have to believe definite truths in order to be saved. Men have to know that they are condemned before they can be saved. There is the utter certainty of a preacher in what he is preaching. Paul says, "We have the same spirit of faith ... we also believe and we speak." That is the fundamental thing. We are going against all that the natural man believes.
MLJ's faith came out in what he preached, that man was under the wrath of God, depraved and lost. He preached this with absolute conviction, and he followed it up with the cross, week by week. That authority was given by the Holy Spirit. It influenced MLJ's whole way of looking at things. He was a man who stood alone for most of his life; one reason was that he was conscious that the problem with man was far deeper than people in the church were prepared to acknowledge They were thinking of 'communication to the modern man' etc. Lloyd-Jones believed that what we faced was not the problem of modern communication, but what was wrong in the church itself. One of the reasons that he did not take part in the big crusades was because there was something wrong in the churches themselves. He quietly stood aside, God having kept him in the way he did, and he preached evangelistically each Sunday.
The test of the presence of the Holy Spirit's work is the presence of Christ himself in the assembly and known by the congregation. A maid worked in a church manse, where there was great anticipation for the coming visit of a powerful preacher, Mr Cook. One maid was not enthusiastic, and she told the butcher she was fed up: "With all this fuss, you would think Jesus Christ himself was coming." Mr Cook did preach and as she heard him, something happened in her life. The butcher said to her with a grin on the following Tuesday, "Did Jesus Christ come?" "Yes, he did come," she said seriously.
William Williams of Pantycelyn said, "Love is the greatest thing in religion, and without it religion is nothing." MLJ often quoted those words. Love has to lead the way. He thought the people were not ready to hear extended series of systematic expository sermons for the first 20 years he was in the ministry. The needs of the people were paramount because love is in our hearts.
"Why is it that certain "intellectual" folk cannot get any good out of our soundest ministers? Why, because they must needs have the corn lifted up for them; and if the wheat is held so high over their heads that they can hardly see it, they are pleased, and cry, "Here is something wonderful." They admire the extraordinary ability of the man who can hold up the truth so high that nobody can reach it; but truly that is a sorry feat. The preacher's business is to place truth within the reach of all, children as well as adults; he is to let fall handfuls on purpose for poor gleaners, and these will never mind stooping to collect the ears. If we preach to the educated people only, the wise ones can understand, but the illiterate cannot; but when we preach in all simplicity to the poor, other classes can understand it if they like, and if they do not like, they had better go somewhere else. Those who cannot stoop to pick up plain truth had better give up gleaning. For my part, I would be taught by a child if I could thereby know and understand the gospel better: the gleaning in our Lord's field is so rich that it is worth the hardest labour to be able to carry home a portion of it."~Charles Spurgeon
"It is nowhere said in the Bible that Christ died for this sinner or that sinner. If you are waiting till you find your own name in the Bible, you will wait for ever. But it is said a few verses before that: "He tasted death for everyman:" and again : "He is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world." Not that all men are saved by Him. Ah, no! the most never come to Jesus, and are lost! but this shows that any sinner may come, even the chief of sinners, and take Christ as his own Saviour, Come you then, anxious soul; say you, He is my refuge and my fortress; and then, be anxious, if you can."~Robert Murray M'Cheyne from sermon on Heb 3:1
"The preacher is not to entertain, motivate or inspire to emotional, psychological, or professional well being. But He is to inform people of Biblical knowledge, and then bring people face to face with the Holy One of Israel, the One who is a consuming fire, the One who will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, the One with whom we all have to do." - Al Baker
Paul, in his last epistle, written shortly before his martyrdom in Rome, gives several exhortations to his son in the faith, Timothy; and this one in particular needs our attention. Paul’s exhortation to be sober is a present imperative, not referring to freedom from drunkenness, but it denotes clarity of mind and sound judgment, not being carried away with folly. This is something Timothy was to do continually without fail. In the next three exhortations, Paul is commanding Timothy to begin and continue to do these for the rest of his life. He is constantly to endure hardship, constantly to do the work of an evangelist (even if he does not have gifts of evangelism), and he is constantly to carry out his ministry, leaving nothing undone, lacking nothing in his service. The last three imperatives flow from the first one - be sober in all things.
Preaching is such a profound and mysterious exercise that it ought to evoke awe each time we hear it. Romans 10:13ff makes clear that a true preacher, when preaching from the Bible, no matter the level of his expertise or experience, though weak, sinful, and frail in himself, nonetheless speaks the Word of God. Paul says, '"Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved." How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent?'
Paul is equating the Word of God with the words of a preacher. As the Word comes from the preacher’s mouth, his words are a savour of life to some and a savour of death to others. Some embrace it to their soul’s everlasting joy, and some reject it to their everlasting misery. Those who hear the preached Word of God are saved, built up in the faith, strengthened to endure the hardships of this world, equipped to do the work of the ministry, and prepared to meet Jesus at their deaths. Those who reject the Word, at their deaths are plunged into the lake of fire forever. No wonder Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:5, 'Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God.'
However, in light of what we commonly see in many churches today, I wonder if preachers really believe the essence of what they do. If preachers are a savour of life unto life and death unto death and if true preaching always yields one of these two responses, then how can we take our task so lightly? How can we spend so little time in preparation, so little time in prayer, so little time asking the hard questions of our own lives, which come from the text under our consideration? How can our church members take preaching so casually, give so little attention to it, pray so little for their pastors, and so easily miss the preaching of God’s Word? If this is such a vital task, then how can pastors spend so much of their time in relatively trivial issues? How can they approach their task with casualness, and sometimes even frivolity?
Surely you know of preachers who are more like clowns than prophets. A clown’s job is to entertain, to make the crowd feel good for a while, to help them forget their problems and needs. A prophet, on the other hand, is to bring people face to face with God, to show them their spiritual bankruptcy, to make known their spiritual nakedness, to reveal to them that though they think they are rich and have need of nothing, they actually are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked. He then is to exalt Jesus Christ as the only Saviour of sinners, the One who died and was raised again for their justification. He is to call people to repentance and faith in Jesus. He is not to entertain, motivate or inspire to emotional, psychological, or professional well being. He is not merely to inform people of Biblical knowledge. He is to bring people face to face with the Holy One of Israel, the One who is a consuming fire, the One who will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, the One with whom we all have to do, the One with the two-edged sword who treads the winepress of the fierce wrath of God the Almighty.
Frivolity and triviality are exceedingly poor mediums for such a message. Life and death issues are not communicated well by clowns. The present worship service in some churches where the preacher enters the pulpit on a motorcycle, in a wheelbarrow, or descending from a high wire, denies the sober message of the prophet. Reducing the sermon to ten or twenty minutes devoid of Biblical exposition, failing to use the S (sin) word or the H (hell) word, failing to speak clearly about the glory of Christ and His person and work, coming across as a motivational speaker or clown, is to impugn the name of Christ and the office of preaching.
The Medium is Essential to the Message
For example, let’s say your spouse has been diagnosed with cancer and has six months to live. How would you feel if the doctor delivered the message to you in drama, in song and dance, or in a stand-up comedy routine? Surely you would be insulted? Would you not consider the doctor to be incredibly insensitive, making light of a serious and painful issue? The medium is essential to the message. Doesn’t the sober nature of the message of life and death, heaven and hell, demand a similar form of communication? Words are what the preacher has at his disposal, words under the ministry of the Holy Spirit, words made active by the Spirit who works in both the preacher and congregation. Words will do. We don’t need drama. We don’t need song and dance. We don’t need comedy. We need straightforward words, cutting like a knife into the hearts of the hearers, opening them up to the folly of their own devices, drawing them back to Jesus who alone has the power to save and keep them until that great day.
Would you pray for your pastors and elders, asking God to give a Holy Spirit anointing in their preparation and delivery of sermons? Would you not begrudge them the time they need in prayer and study, allowing God to deal with their own soul and heart? Would you release them from attempting to be something they are not? A pastor is not a clown; instead he is to be a prophet, called by God to preach the unfathomable riches of Christ for the salvation of souls and sanctification of His blood-bought people. Will you turn him loose, expecting God to speak powerfully and redemptively through him to all who hear his voice?
Good news!!! God desires mercy and not sacrifice! Have you learned what that means?
In this Gospel sermon: Part 13 of ourAttributes of God Series we look at: -What it means that God desires mercy and not sacrifice. -The mercy of God is something we should hope and delight in. -How the Christian MUST show mercy to others. -Church discipline and mercy.
"I fear that all our hearers will get by their hearing will be a headache. Be attentive, but be retentive too. Gather the grain and tie it up in bundles for carrying away with you, and mind you do not lose it on the road home. Many a person when he has got a fair hold of the sermon, loses it on the way to his house by idle talk with vain companions. I have heard of a Christian man who was seen hurrying home one Sunday with all his might. A friend asked him why he was in such haste. "Oh!" said he, "two or three Sundays ago, our minister gave us a most blessed discourse, and I greatly enjoyed it; but when I got outside, there were two deacons discussing, and one pulled the sermon one way, and the other the other, till they pulled it all to pieces, and I lost all the savour of it." Those must have been very bad deacons; let us not imitate them; and if we know of any who are of their school, let us walk home alone in dogged silence sooner than lose all our gleanings by their controversies. After a good sermon go home with your ears and your mouth shut. Act like the miser, who not only gets all he can, but keeps all he can. Do not lose by trifling talk that which may make you rich to all eternity."~Charles Spurgeon
"See what Christ thinks of the believer : "As the lily among the thorns, so is My love among the daughters." (Songs 2:2) The believer is like a lovely flower in the eyes of Christ. First, because justified in the eyes of Christ, washed in His blood, he is pure and white as a lily. Christ can see no spot in His own righteousness, and therefore He sees no spot in the believer. "Thou art all fair, my love,-as a lily among thorns, so is My love." Second, a believers nature is changed. Once he was like the barren, prickly thorn, fit only for burning; now Christ has put a new spirit in him,- the dew has been given to him, and he grows up like the lily. Christ loves the new creature. "All My delight is in them." "As the lily among thorns so is my love among the daughters." Are you a Christian? Then never mind though the world despise you, though they call you names ; remember Christ loves you; He calls you "My love". Abide in Him and you shall abide in His love."~Robert Murray M'Cheyne from sermon on Song of Solomon 2:2-3
"I. Abide in Him, little children, whom I have always preached unto you, that when He shall appear we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. Let every new sight of your wicked heart, and every new wave of trouble, drive your soul to hide in Him, the Rock of your salvation. There is no true peace but in a present hold of the Lord our Righteousness.
II. Enjoy the forgiveness of sins-keep yourself in the love of God. If you abide in Christ, you shall abide in His love: your joy let no man take from you. "These things write we unto you, that your joy may be full."
III. Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord. "He that (saith He) abideth in Him ought to walk even as He walked." Ah, how many falls will I have to mourn over when I return, if God send me back to you,-how many unseemly quarrellings and miscarriages among you, that are God's own,-how many unlovely tempers among those who follow Him who is Altogether Lovely! Oh, take heed! do not give the enemy cause to blaspheme; naming the name of Christ, depart from all iniquity." taken from: Memoir & Remains of Robert Murray M'Cheyne-Andrew Bonar.
Here is a quote from the article: "This idea has been widely spread among Reformed believers through the writings of A.W. Pink in his famous book The Sovereignty of God (a great book overall, by the way). Pink argues that John 3:16, "God so loved the world...", is referring merely to "the world of the Elect".
Pink's argument, in my opinion, is a truly pathetic piece of biblical interpretation, which begins with a premise (God simply couldn't love the wicked), and concludes with a twisting of John 3:16 which is monumental. Hardly a more simple and clear statement could be made than that God loves the world, and therefore sent His Son. Why would Pink engage in such twisting of Scripture? Simple. He did not "get" the concept of Antinomy. He reasoned that the hatred and wrath of God could not co-exist with His love."
"It is only in proportion as we hold fellowship with Christ, and communion with him, that either ordinances, or doctrines, or promises can profit us. All other things are dry and barren unless we are enjoying the love of Christ, unless we bear his likeness, unless we dwell continually with him, and rejoice in his love. I am sorry to say that few Christians think much of this field; it is enough for them to be sound in doctrine, and tolerably correct in practice; they care far less than they should about intimate intercourse with Christ Jesus, their Lord, by the Holy Ghost. I am sure that if we gleaned in this field we should hot have half so many naughty tempers, nor a tenth as much pride, nor a hundredth part so much sloth. This is a field hedged and sheltered, and in it you will find better food than that which angels feed upon: yea, you will find Jesus himself as the bread which came down from heaven. Blessed, blessed field, may we visit it every day. The Master leaves the gate wide open for every believer; let us enter in and gather the golden ears till we can carry no more. Thus we have seen the great Husbandman in his fields; let us rejoice that we have such a great Husbandman near, and such fields to glean in."~Charles Spurgeon
"The great Husbandman has another field called Promise field; of that I shall not need to speak, for I hope you often enter it and glean from it. Just let us take an ear or two out of one of the sheaves, and show them to you that you may be induced to stay there the live-long day, and carry home a rich load at night. Here is an ear: "The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed." Here is another: "When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee; when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee." Here is another; it has a short stalk, but a heavy ear; "My strength is sufficient for thee." Another is long in the straw, but very rich in corn: "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you; and if I go and prepare a place for you I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." What a word is that!—"I will come again." Yes, beloved, we can say of the Promise field what cannot be said of a single acre in all England; namely, that it is so rich a field that it could not be richer, and that it has so many ears of corn in it that you could not insert another. As the poet sings:
"What more can he say, than to you he hath said,— You who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?"
Glean in that field, O ye poor and needy ones, and never think that you are intruding. The whole field is your own, every ear of it; you may draw out from the sheaves themselves, and the more you take the more you may." Charles Spurgeon
"For Judas the traitor was punished, and Christ was crucified: but us He redeemed by His blood, and He punished him in the matter of his price. For he threw down the price of silver, for which by him the Lord had been sold; and he knew not the price wherewith he had himself by the Lord been redeemed. This thing was done in the case of Judas" ~Exposition on the Book of the Psalms,” in The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, 8:309.
"The Redeemer came, and gave a price; He poured forth His Blood, and bought the whole world. Ye ask what He bought? Ye see what He hath given; find out then what He bought. The Blood of Christ was the price. What is equal to this? What, but the whole world? What, but all nations? They are very ungrateful for their price, or very proud, who say that the price is so small that it bought the Africans only; or that they are so great, as that it was given for them alone. Let them not then exult, let them not be proud: He gave what He gave for the whole world. He knew what He bought, because He knew at what price He bought it."~“Exposition on the Book of the Psalms,” in The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, 8:471.
"“For with righteousness shall He judge the world:” not a part of it, for He bought not a part: He will judge the whole, for it was the whole of which He paid the price."~“Exposition on the Book of the Psalms,” in The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, 8:474.
Three things that most struck me from reading The Awakening, Revival In China 1927-1937 by Marie Monsen:
1. A great reminder that God is not dependent upon us. 2. The need for small groups (2 or 3) to join in believing prayer. 3. There is a lack of power in much of even real Western Christianity today due to unconfessed sin.
You can read extracts of the book HERE. And you can buy it HERE.
"In one place we felt the presence of spiritual power toward the close of the revival meetings, at which many had been saved. One day a soldier strayed into the meeting. Everything he saw and heard was strange and new to him. He said later that he had never heard of any gospel preaching before. The meeting had not closed before he had come under deep conviction of sin and was given help. A word of promise from the Lord was quoted to him once only: his praise and thanksgiving broke forth and he was filled with peace, a peace which showed on his face, as it always did when the Holy Spirit had worked. Finally we stood in one of the airy rooms off the courtyard and sang hymns of praise, and with shinning eyes he heard them for the first time and understood.
For a moment, a deep Shadow fell across his face, but it passed immediately. When the hymn was ended, he said: "It will be a short life of joy for me here on earth, but I shall be saved from myself and my sins forever. Will you pray together for me until you hear a shot from the military camp? I stole ammunition and sold it, and there is a death penalty for that. I must go back now and confess to the captain." With a radiant, "We shall meet again in heaven," he ran off, a mere boy.
We stood there praying in a ring, holding one another's hands. We thought it was a very long time we had to wait, praying and listening for that shot. Suddenly he was there again in our midst, smiling. He had confessed everything and given a careful, detailed account of what he had stolen. The Captain sat silent a moment, then sighed heavily and said: "As you have now become a new man and will not steal any more, I don't see why you should die, you may go." ~from The Awakening, Revival In China 1927-1937 by Marie Monsen
"A schoolgirl, the best in the school, became suddenly very ill one night, and was immediately made fully aware that the time had come for her by death to go home. The evening before she sickened, she had put every everything right with God and man, and went to bed that night for the first time with her soul at liberty. A few hours later she lay sick unto death and told everyone with a radiant face that she would soon be at home with the Lord.
I can see her yet, the happy little soul, when she had just believed unto salvation. While still on her knees, she opened her Bible and read Prov. 28.13, "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper; but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy." She put her finger on the passage and said with a lovely smile: "I have always lived in the first half of that verse, now I have moved. I have a new address, I live now in the last half of the verse."
She had a serious heart attack in the night, but was better in the morning. Her classmates stood in her room, almost paralysed, and heard her fearlessly and joyously say that she was going Home soon; they saw the peace of God in her face. She called them to her side, one by one. "Promise to meet me in Heaven. Don't put it off. Think if I had put it off yesterday!"
At the next meeting, hearts melted, and while we sang our first hymn she entered the Father's house. There was joy in heaven then; and later, joy came to the many who experienced salvation in that church."~from The Awakening, Revival In China 1927-1937 by Marie Monsen
"There is no book of the Bible which affords a better test of the depth of a man's Christianity than the Song of Solomon. (1) If a man's religion be all in his head, - a well-set form of doctrines, built like mason-work, stone above stone,- but exercising no influence upon his heart, this book cannot but offend him; for there are no stiff statements of doctrine here upon which his heartless religion may be built. (2) Or, if a man's religion be all his fancy - if, like Pliable from Pilgrim's Progress, he be taken with the outward beauty of Christianity - if, like the seed sown upon the rocky ground, his religion is fixed only in the surface faculties of the mind, while the heart remains rock and unmoved; though he will relish this book more than the first man, still there is a mysterious breathing of intimate affection in it, which cannot but stumble and offend him. (3) But if a man's religion be heart religion - if he hath not only doctrines in his head, but love to Jesus in his heart - if he hath not only heard and read of the Lord Jesus, but hath felt his need of Him, and been brought to cleave unto Him, as the chiefest among ten thousand, and the altogether lovely, then this book will be inestimably precious to his soul; for it contains the tenderest breathings of the believer's heart toward the Saviour, and the tendereth breathings of the Saviour's heart again toward the believer.
It is agreed among the best interpreters of this book - (1) that it consists not of one song, but of many songs; (2) that these songs are in dramatic form; and (3) that, like the parables of Christ, they contain a spiritual meaning, under the dress and ornaments of some poetical incident." from Sermon 'The Voice Of My Beloved' Robert Murray M'Cheyne onSong Of Solomon 2:8-17.
"There was a clever but very proud Chinese doctor who had been the subject of our prayers for a long time. He had two patients who were very seriously ill and had been bedridden for twenty years. He said he would be saved if they were healed. The Christians accepted the challenge and met to pray for them. Both patients were healed within two days of each other. The doctor also was saved, and so delivered from his pride that he became a humble witness for the Lord; and, from that time on, was often to be found in the poorest homes."~from The Awakening, Revival In China 1927-1937 by Marie Monsen
Quote: "What you are before other people is what other people think you are. What you are when you are alone is what God knows you are"~ Mack Tomlinson Recommended Sermon Click on blue link. Secret Prayer Life of a believer-Mack Tomlinson.
"The Spirit of God was at work among us at this time of refreshing, and we knew it. It was a wonderfully quiet prayer-revival. It grew perfectly natural to see missionaries meet on the paths, stop to talk and then pray together at the side of the pathway; or one saw them at prayer among the bushes and behind rocks. It was said that every cupboard and corner in the little houses was used continually for prayer.
All those who experienced this prayer-revival went back to their stations to make united prayer for revival a first priority in the work, and to see that it was not allowed to be pushed out into the sphere of unessentials as it had so often been before. Out of this grew the daily fellowship in prayer with Chinese fellow-workers, which naturally led to revival on mission stations and in surrounding districts, as the promise in Matt. 18:19 assures us: "I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven."~from The Awakening, Revival In China 1927-1937 by Marie Monsen