This long weekend, being hot, and therefore not conducive to physical work, gave me an excellent opportunity to read some old sermons. I read through sermons by George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards and Charles Spurgeon. It was a great way to while away the hours. While reading the works of these great men a number of thoughts struck me:
1. All the sermons I read were crammed with Biblical quotes and examples. These preachers used the Bible as their primary source. It was the well they constantly drew from; their first port of call. Even though they used the topics of their day, it was God’s Word that they stood on. There were no examples of pop psychology and glib jokes. They spoke on God’s behalf. Their aim was not to tickle ears.
2. The overarching story of Christ, promised in the Old Testament and delivered in the New was always central to their message. I found the cross constantly placed before me. I couldn’t dodge and weave. The Bible was a grand story not a series of fairy tales or even worse, a source of trite examples.
3. Finally, these sermons struck at my heart. They were passionate and didn’t allow me to simply listen for information, feel entertained or do some psychological self examination. Each preacher demanded that I consider my relationship with God and my place in His Kingdom. I was confronted by my brokenness and offered a solution to my condition. Whitefield, in particular, confronted fellow clergy as well.
I am not saying this style of preaching doesn’t occur today. It does, but it is in short supply. I have been to many different churches over the last 30 months. Psychology, information and a lack of passion is easy to find. I have also found passion without content. But Biblical passion, anchored in Biblical teaching seeking souls and declaring a Kingdom are, sadly, in short supply. Any person who feels called by God to preach could do well to go to these preachers of yesteryear and learn a thing or two. Even though I haven’t preached for a while, I felt convicted by these servants of God.