I finished reading Preaching and Preachers by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones this past Friday. I am tempted here to recount all the major sections of the book, give a review, or quote the lines that struck me the most. But, I feel that all of these have already been done better than I could recount them and a google search is all that is required to find any of those.
What I will say here is the impact of the book as a whole upon me. This is the first Lloyd-Jones book I’ve ever read. I have read various sermons of his before, but never a whole volume. On the whole, the book gripped me to the core of my soul. Lloyd-Jones, even through the written page, entranced me and held my firm attention even when I wasn’t reading him. He was an anointed man, and his devotion to the Biblical call to preaching is infectious.
The book itself discusses less how to preach and more about what it means to preach. A preacher preaching is not a man giving a sermon. It is a rather peculiar thing to realize, but there is something absolutely unique to the act of preaching that cannot be replicated, captured, or prefabricated. It is a once-in-a-moment event. At this point, I was struck to consider Lloyd-Jones major point: The preacher is never completely prepared until he steps into the pulpit and the Spirit grabs him. Then he can preach.
The centrality of the Holy Spirit in the act of preaching was astonishing to me. Lloyd-Jones, for all his brilliance, oozed the impression that a man lives or dies by his reliance upon the Holy Spirit in preaching. I cannot shake the soul gripping reality of the Spirit in his ministry, and what he held up as preaching.
How does a man do that?
He can’t, it’s a work of God.
So, you mean I can’t produce this?
No. God must do it, and his field to cultivate it is one purchased by an innocent, naked, dying man on a cross in your place.
Preaching aims at the whole man. This crumbled me. I am a hard, unforgiving, unkind and loving man. If I were to characterize my heart as I relate to others, it would be “exacting”. Relationships exist for certain ends, and I must get what I am due from them. But preaching is the Savior embodied, full of grace and love to heal, restore, and change. I am not a preacher. I hope to be some day. Maybe if I press at His word long enough, the Spirit will inherently cause me to change – like those massive layers of rock that form over time around a small pebble.
Preaching cares about people because God cares about people. It is a man filled, filled I say, with the Holy Spirit declaring the Word of God in authority and power that God might change men and women in the whole person of who they are.
Lloyd-Jones rocked my world. I love this man. If he didn’t have a funky last name, or rather plain first and middle names, I’d give thought to naming a child after him. (I mean, who wants the name Lloyd, or Martyn? Those names form bully-targets on the playing field.) I’m capture by Lloyd-Jones, and I can’t put him down. I’ve moved on to other works of his. I’ll read it all eventually. I don’t say that to brag (I didn’t say how long it’d take me); I say that to underline how helpful and important he has become to me.
Who would I recommend this book to? The first are guys like me – men, young or old, who desire to be pastors and to preach. It’ll humble you and excite you. Further, if you don’t feel the call to pastoral ministry, you should read it. It’ll help you understand what your pastor is doing when he steps into the pulpit to preach, and you’ll not only be better suited to receive his preaching, but be better equipped to pray for him. To men in ministry: shame on you for not reading it yet. Do it, now. (I emphasize men in pastoral ministry because that is who the call is given to; women are not called to be pastors.)
On the whole, I think people should read D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones because he is the example of what preaching should be. I desire to be a preacher to a fraction of who he was. I desire my brothers who sense a call to desire the same thing. If God raised up more men to the ministry to be preachers like Lloyd-Jones, what sort of revival might we be on the brink of?