If you want your son to be a great evangelist, give him the sermons of eminent preachers like Jonathan Edwards, John Paton, John Knox, John MacArthur, John Chrysostom, John Bunyan, John Piper, John Calvin, John Wycliffe, and John Hus.
Also, name him John.
Breaking the mold is George Whitefield, probably the greatest evangelist since the Apostle Paul. His sermons on both sides of the Atlantic are estimated at 30,000. God used Whitfield during the Great Awakening to bring about one of the greatest revivals in the history of the church.
He wasn’t just a Calvinist, he was a high Calvinist. He held the doctrines of grace to the highest degree, including the doctrine of reprobation. “I have never read Calvin,” he said. “My Calvinism comes from Jesus himself.” Elsewhere he remarked: “We are all born Arminians and it is grace that makes us Calvinists.” Continue reading
Preachers with little application in their sermons may give the following justification: “It is the Spirit’s task to apply, not mine.” That is, it’s their task to explain “children obey your parents”, not apply by giving practical ways by which to do this. Preachers do the former, the Spirit the latter.
Here are four reasons I find this rationale unconvincing.
First, the greatest preachers in Scripture didn’t teach and then expect their hearers to sort out the application on their own. Jesus warned his disciples about anger without cause (Mt. 5:22). Then he told them what “anger without a cause” looks like practically (e.g. “You’re stupid!”, v. 22). John didn’t urge his hearers to “bear fruit worthy of repentance” and then leave it to the Spirit to apply it (Lk. 3:8). He chopped up this meaty doctrine into four bite-size applications, like “give one of your shirts to the poor” (v. 11), “share your lunch” (v. 11), and “don’t cheat on your tax returns” (v. 13). Continue reading
When a lady accused Charles Spurgeon of using too much humor in his sermons, he told her: “Well, madam, you may very well be right; but if you knew the number of jokes I do not tell, and the number of things that I refrain from saying you would give me more credit than you are giving me.”
As stated in Preaching and Preachers, the rule Martyn Lloyd-Jones uses for humor in preaching is that it was only allowable if it is natural. The Doctor uses the word “abomination” for the preacher who tries to be funny. Spurgeon was a naturally humorous man. Whitefield was very serious. So the preacher must know himself. Lloyd-Jones:
I would not dare to say there is no place for humor in preaching; but I do suggest that it should not be a very big place because of the nature of the work, and because of the character of the Truth with which we are dealing. The preacher is dealing with and concerned about souls and their destiny. He is standing between God and men and acting as an ambassador for Christ. (241)