Preaching: A Living Transaction

Martyn Lloyd-Jones

In Preaching and Preachers, Martyn Lloyd-Jones argues that preaching isn't merely about imparting information to the hearers. It's a living transaction.

Any true definition of preaching must say that [the preacher] is there to deliver the message of God, a message from God to those people…He has been sent, he is a commissioned person, and he is standing there as the mouthpiece of God and of Christ to address these people. In other words he is not here merely to talk to them, he is not there to entertain them. He is there–and I want to emphasise this–to do something to those people; he is there to produce results of various kinds, he is there to influence people. He is not merely to influence a part of them; he is not only to influence their minds, or only their emotions, or merely to bring pressure to bear upon their wills and to induce them to some kind of activity. He is there to deal with the whole person; and his preaching is meant to affect the whole person at the very centre of life. Preaching should make such a difference to a man who is listening that he is never the same again...

[Preaching] should always be a transaction between preacher and listener with something vital and living taking place. It is not the mere imparting of knowledge, there is something much bigger involved. The total person is engaged on both sides; and if we fail to realise this our preaching will be a failure...

[The preacher] is dealing with living persons, people who are in need and in trouble, sometimes not consciously; and he is to make them aware of that, and to deal with it. It is this living transaction...

If people can listen to us without becoming anxious about themselves or reflecting on themselves we have not been preaching…

[Preaching] addresses us in such a manner as to bring us under judgment; and it deals with us in such a way that we feel our whole life is involved, and we go out saying, 'I can never go back and live just as I did before. This has done something to me, it has made a difference to me. I am a different person as the result of listening to this'…

Preaching is that which deals with the total person, the hearer becomes involved and knows that he has been dealt with and addressed by God through this preacher. Something has taken place in him and in his experience, and it is going to affect the whole of his life.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Preaching and Preachers (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1971) 53-56, emphasis added.

Worth Checking Out (Aug. 13)

Can Syria's Christian Survive - "Nonetheless, many Christians fear any government that replaces the Assad regime might be dominated by groups like the Muslim Brotherhood that could relegate them back to second-class status. They also worry their communities could be devastated in the crossfire between Syria's largely Sunni Muslim insurgency and the well-armed Alawite regime, just as Christians in neighboring Iraq have suffered mightily in the sectarian wars there over the past decade."

German Austerity's Lutheran Core - Steven Ozment, author of The Serpent and the Lamb: Cranach, Luther, and the Making of the Reformation, discusses the ways in which Germany's Lutheran heritage still influences the nation's public policy. "But if their Lutheran heritage of sacrificing for their neighbors makes Germans choose austerity, it also leads them to social engagement. In classic Lutheran teaching, the salvation of the believer 'by faith alone' does not curtail the need for constant charitable good works, as ill-informed critics allege. Faith, rather, empowers the believer to act in the world by taking the worry out of his present and future religious life."

A Nation That Believes Nothing - The teaser for Peggy Noonan's WSJ article on the presidential campaign reads "Romney doesn't need to talk about America becoming like Europe. He needs to warn us about America becoming like California." As a Californian that caught my attention. And as a Californian I have to say I tend to agree.

True Preaching

Paul preaching in Athens

In A Scottish Christian Heritage Iain Murray has this to say about preaching that is worthy to be called such:

True preaching, according to the New Testament, does not mean simply hearing about Christ, it is hearing Christ himself: it is Christ speaking, Christ inviting, Christ calling to repentance. The preacher is present only as a messenger; Christ is present to be believed, to be obeyed and to be worshipped. Where preaching does not lead to that, and only begins and ends with the sermon, it has failed (332, emphasis in the original).

I think Murray has in mind passages such as Ephesians 2:17.

And he [that is, Christ] came and preached [through his messengers] peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near (ESV).

Comments, thoughts, questions?