What can I say about this book? Well, its not just any book. It’s one of a kind. And a kind that happens to deal with one of the most important elements in the life of the church. It’s a book on preaching and preachers. I could see why Dr. Jones would want to write a book on preaching and preachers. For example, in this clear definition concerning the work of the church and the pastor, he states, “The primary task of the Church and of the Christian minister is the preaching of the Word of God.” In other words it is the business of the church to make sure that the preaching of God’s Word is not subordinate to other areas in the life of the church. Preaching is essential, because the preacher stands between God and souls that are on the verge of entering Hell and life of voidness that is separated from the love of God. For Dr. Jones, “The preacher alone is the one who can do this. He is the only one who is in a position to deal with the greatest need of the world.” There is no substitute for it because preaching is the means that has been ordained by God to convert dead souls; and to edify living souls.
There are so many things that can be addressed concerning this book. Once you read this book you probably will scratch your head at some of the doctor’s comments and may not agree with every single jot and tittle of what the man says. You will see some of his strong opinions, but they are worth your attention, nonetheless. It will cause you to think. Some of the foundational points that Dr. Jones mentions can be listed under these headings that is somewhat similar to what Mark Dever said in his essay contribution concerning his reading of Dr. Jones’ book: preaching should normally be expository, evangelistic, clear about God, serious, clear about sin, confrontational, not deceptive/manipulative; should proclaim the Gospel; and preaching should proclaim the Gospel because the Gospel is for everyone.
Expository preaching is fundamental to the church. We need to hear what the verse or passage means because getting the meaning down brings one closer to God. We should not concoct our own meanings or imaginations into the message. Preaching should also be evangelistic. Although edifying the saints is critical the growth of believers, evangelistic messages are also important because the preacher needs to come to grips with the reality that perhaps not everyone in the pew is a believer. Preaching should also be clear about God. Why should we be clear about God? We want to be clear about God because we want people to have a sense of God and His holy presence. Dr. Jones once said in his lectures concerning the topic of being clear about God, “I am never tired of saying that the real difficulty of evangelism today is that we do not spend sufficient time with the doctrine of God.” Even though he is referring to evangelism, the principle still applies to the pulpit. Clarity about God is vital because he is the heartbeat of the message. In terms of being serious when it comes to preaching, Dr. Jones responded to an interview done by Carl Henry. Carl Henry said, “You have a great sense of humor, your friends say, but seldom use it in the pulpit.” Dr. Jones replied by saying, “I find it very difficult to be humorous in the pulpit. I always feel in the pulpit that I am in the terrible position of standing between God and souls that may go to hell. That position is too appalling for humour.” That is a heart-check moment for me. Whenever I get the opportunity to preach, may God instill a sense of continual seriousness upon my mind. As for preaching being clear about sin and being confrontational about sin, the doctor says that we are to be respectful towards the person, but we also must be merciless on the sinner because of their rebellion against God. The sinner that has not placed his full trust in Christ is an abomination to God. And just to give an anecdotal evidence of this, the doctor did back up his statements when he was in the heat of the moment. For example, in one of his sermons, he said, “The church of Christ is a church of believers, an association of people banded together by a common belief and a common love. You don’t believe? Well, above all, do not pretend that you do, go to the country and the seaside. All I ask of you is, be consistent. When someone dies in your family, do not come to bury him. Go to the sea-side for consolotion.” That may seem harsh, but is true love. He cares for them that much, that he is willing to tell them their reality of their condition so that they may come to Christ. Another area that must be covered is the manipulation in preaching. Dr. Jones adds a crucial statement that is fundamental to our awareness concerning manipulation, “The will should always be approached primarily through the mind, the intellect, and then the affections.” That is a great quote. In the days we are living in, many churches manipulate people by making people think they are saved if they just sign a card, say a sinners’ prayer, walk a aisle, or make a decision for Christ – all without their mind being washed by the Gospel. But what’s the use when the mind has not been affected by the Gospel? The mind is critical. If the mind is not washed by the Word and affected by the the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5), then one does not truly understand and accept the Gospel. It is the mind that substantiates the human will and emotion. The last fundamental point I would like to point out is this: “evangelistic preaching is for all.” In other words, believers and unbelievers need to hear the Gospel. For the Christian, the Gospel is the source that sanctifies them in this life and the life to come. For the unbeliever, the Gospel is the only hope concerning one’s freedom from sin and is the only hope concerning one’s escape from hell in the afterlife.
I highly recommend this book. I would say that besides the preaching books that focuses on the mechanics of preaching, this is the best book on the treatment of preaching and preachers. It will electrify your soul if you have a heart to preach God’s Word.