Old Paths, New Power, Pt 9

This post is part 9 in a series where I post excerpts from the book Old Paths New Power written by Daniel Henderson. I resist making a commentary on the book. Rather, I pull out excerpts that caught my attention at this stage of my pastoral journey.

Chapter 9: Preaching with Understanding, Unction, and Utterance (p. 155-167)

Martyn Lloyd Jones: “Is it not clear as you take a birds-eye view of church history, that the decadent periods and eras in the history of the church have always been those periods when preaching had declined? What is it that always heralds the dawn of a Reformation or of a Revival? It is renewed preaching.” Page 154

All the truth in the world will do you little good until God brings a man across your path, and you are able to see that truth in action. Then suddenly, that truth becomes a driving force in your life. Page 155

I’ve also been marked by the prayer of Dr. Lee Toms, my forty-year predecessor at the church I served in Sacramento, California. He often pleaded with the Lord, “give me understanding, unction, and utterance.” Page 156.

Dr. John MacArthur has often said that the secret to great preaching is simply to keep your rear end in the chair until the sermon is done. Page 157

Recall the apostle Paul’s compelling description of the primary characteristic of elders who are worthy of double honor. They “labor in preaching and teaching” (1 Timothy 5:17). They work in their study and preaching to the point of exhaustion. Page 157

As Azudia elaborates:

Preachers (and their congregations!) must understand faithfulness to God’s methodology will, by necessity, exempt them from significant participation in most other ministry responsibilities. If men such as these, given to preaching and teaching, labor unto weariness in the work, then it is highly unlikely they will have significant involvement in other ministries, however important they may be. Faithful exposition is an all-consuming work: a faithful man is immovable from this design. He recognizes preaching is the method ordained by God. Page 158

His heart [John MacArthur] is seen in the following words from Rediscovering Pastoral Ministry: “Scripture alone is the source of spiritual food. Peter urged believers to “long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation” (1 Peter 2:2). p.159

When Martin Luther described his role the Reformation, he extolled the sufficiency of the word of God: “I simply taught, preached, and wrote God’s word; otherwise I did nothing. And while I slept… The Word did everything.” Page 159 – 160

Charles S. Spurgeon underscored this as he equipped ministry students: “One bright [benefit] which private prayer brings down upon the ministry is an indescribably and in inimitable something, better understood than named; is the dew from the Lord, a divine presence which you’ll recognize that once when I say it is “an unction from the Holy One.” Page 161

Unction is a thing which you cannot manufacture, and its counterfeits are worse than worthless; yet it is in itself priceless and beyond measure needful if you would edify believers and bring sinners to Jesus. Page 162

We have replaced spiritual unction with technological function. Page 162

Azurdia: “The most gifted preacher is impotent to inaugurate a saving experience apart from the gracious work of the omnipotent Spirit. Therefore, any effective ministry of exposition must include both a resolute commitment to the practice of diligent exegesis in a thoroughgoing dependence upon the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Page 162

Spurgeon urged, “If the anointing which we bear come not from the Lord of hosts, we are deceivers, and since only in prayer can we obtain it, let’s continue instant, constant, fervent in supplications.” Page 162

As people assemble, only the Spirit sees the confluence of needs, dilemmas, questions, doubts, and defeats represented in the unique gathering of that moment. His wisdom is able to apply God’s word to the deepest needs…We align our hearts with this great dynamic as we keep a posture of intentional, dependent, and spiritually sensitive prayer. Page 165

The same Spirit who brooded over creation and by whose power the world came into being; the same Spirit who inspired the Scriptures; the same Spirit-filled believers at Pentecost to birth the church – this is the same Spirit who works in the preacher to bring powerful application of His true to scores, hundreds, even thousands of hearts at the same time in the utterance of the truth of the gospel. Page 165.