Do you sense that your preaching has no depth, light, heat, fire, or glow that is being emitted from the pulpit? Are you boring your audience to death? You may present a well-intended and accurate exposition, which is the light, but is passion, which is the heat, missing? If so, it maybe wise to take heed to Professor John Murray’s statement, “To me, preaching without passion is not preaching at all.” J.W. Alexander statement is of help too. Here is what he says, “The whole mass of truth, by the sudden passion of the speaker, is made red-hot and burns its way. Passion is eloquence.” If these statements are germane to your current situation in the area of preaching, I recommend that you read this book. And if you are not experiencing a lack of light and heat, I still recommend this book because it is wonderfully refreshing to the soul of a preacher.
The author’s main theme in this book is in regards to “The Immediate Agency and Operations of the Holy Spirit in and on the Preacher in the Act of Preaching.” It seems to be a long title and theme that Pastor Martin refers to often in this book. For example, he stated: “I will seek to demonstrate that His agency (His active power) and His operations (the effects of that power) are direct and immediate in and on the preacher in the act of preaching, in contrast to those operations that come through intervening agencies.” What he has just described is what he calls the bull’s eye topic that he seeks to unravel for the readers.
Before he gets into the details of explaining the theme or the bull’s-eye topic, Pastor Martin provides some helpful presuppositions to consider in regards to the Holy Spirit. First the Holy Spirit is a person. Whether it be His gifts or functions, we must always remember that they are operations of a person, not a force. Second, the Holy Spirit is a divine person. As the pastor so clearly states, “All that constitutes the essence of the Father’s deity and the Son’s deity can and must be equally attributed to the person of the Holy Spirit. Hence, all the reverence, all the submission, and all the love that flows out of Spirit-renewed hearts to the Father and to the Son must also constantly flow out to this glorious divine person called the Holy Spirit.” Third, the Holy Spirit is not only a divine person, but He is sovereign. He possesses supreme and ultimate authority when it comes to regeneration and the dispensing of spiritual gifts.
In light of the presuppositions concerning the Holy Spirit, the writer devotes much of his material under three main headings: “1) its indispensable necessity, 2) its specific manifestations, and 3) its restrained or diminished measure.”
I will not go into details concerning the book’s details regarding this topic, but what I can tell you is that in his first main heading: “its indispensable necessity,” the writer argues that Spirit’s role is an indispensable necessity in preaching because just as how He was involved in Christ’s ministry (Luke 2:52; Isa. 61:1; Luke 3:21-22; Luke 4:1-2; Luke 4:14; Heb. 9:14), the apostles’ ministry (Acts 1:3; Luke 24:45-48; Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8; Acts 1:7-8; 1 Thess. 1:5), and the New Covenant ministry (2 Corinthians 2:14-4:18; 3:1-8; 3:5-6; Romans 8:26), He too is involved in our preaching.
Much more can be said about this book, but I will quote an excerpt from Charles Spurgeon’s book, Lectures to My Students, and a few exhortations from Pastor Martin in terms of what they have to say concerning the indispensability of the Spirit’s agency and operations that is in connection to the preaching ministry invested to the preacher by God. Here are the wise sayings from a godly experienced pastor:
To us, as ministers, the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential. Without him our office is a mere name. We claim no priesthood over and above that which belongs to every child of God; but we are the successors of those who, in olden times, were moved of God to declare his word, to testify against transgression, and to plead his cause. Unless we have the spirit of the prophets resting upon us, the mantle which we wear is nothing but a rough garment to deceive. We ought to be driven forth with abhorrence from the society of honest men for daring to speak in the name of the Lord if the Spirit of God rests not upon us. We believe ourselves to be spokesmen for Jesus Christ, appointed to continue his witness upon earth; but upon him and his testimony of the Spirit of God always rested, and if it does not rest upon us, we are evidently not sent forth into the world as he was. At Pentecost the commencement of the great work of converting the world was with flaming tongues and a rushing mighty wind, symbols of the presence of the Spirit; if, therefore, we think to succeed without the Spirit, we are not after the Pentecostal order. If we have not the Spirit which Jesus promised, we cannot perform the commission which Jesus gave.” ~ Charles H. Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2008), 255.
Now a word of discernment must be made. In light of this quote, I believe what Spurgeon said about the flaming tongues should be perceived as an element that is giving the presentation of what took place and how the Spirit operated, not a model to follow because flaming tongues have ceased for today. But that is beyond the scope for this post and that is a topic for another day. But what we can extract from Spurgeon’s statement is that the indispensable necessity of the Holy Spirit’s operation back then in the lives of believers also operate in preaching for the sake of God’s glory and one’s edification. Without Him, preaching will have no life.
As for Pastor Martin soul-stirring exhortations concerning the immediate agency and operation of the Holy Spirit in our preaching that gives a heightened sense of the spiritual realities, please take note of them below. I pray that they will be helpful to you:
- “But in the act of preaching it is as though you are given the ability to smell the brimstone and to hear the hopeless cry of the damned, and your soul feels the horrors of the pit that awaits the impenitent. You preach the truth of hell as one who senses and feels the reality of what you are preaching. What are these experiences? They are nothing other and nothing less than the blessed reality of the immediate agency and operation of the Holy Spirit in our preaching, giving us a heightened sense of the spiritual realities in which we are trafficking as we preach” (20).
- “One of the results of this blessed experience is that at times it will give an involuntary glow to the very countenance of the preacher. No actor can produce it. There is nothing in your notes that says ‘glow here.’ You cannot anticipate it; you cannot force or imitate it. It may evoke an unplanned and unforced tear in the eye. At other times it will inject an element of pathos and pleading power into the vocal cords and in many ways take a preacher totally out of himself. My dear reader, if you are a preacher and do not find these things resonating with you in terms of things you have experienced, both you and your hearers are to be pitted. This is why George Whitefield said, ‘I would not for one thousand worlds preach an unfelt Christ.’ This is what Whitefield was talking about” (21).
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