King's Business - 1940-12

December. 1946



$ " / / / / £

Passionless Preaching and Its Antidote

By HERBERT LO C K Y ER Chicago, Illinois

Ninth and Last in a Series on “The Art and Craft of Preaching”

[A ll Rights Reserved ]

Passion is also another name for the “blood earnestness” which character­ ized the ministry of men like George Whitefield, John Wesley, Jonathan Ed­ wards, David Brainerd_, Thomas Chal­ mers, and a host of others. Apostolic preachers were likewise men of deep passion. We cannot account for their passion apart from the fact that at Pentecost they were baptized into the passion and compassion of Calvary. A passion like Paul’s, for example, when for three years he ceased not to admon­ ish the Ephesians night and day with tears, was a spark from the altar fire of Christ’s own love for souls. Things That Destroy Heart-Earnestness Is this your peril: Are you in danger of preaching the cross without a Cal­ vary heart? Have you ceased to preach with tears in your voice? Has the fine, subtle power vanished from your preaching? Have you allowed sloth to cut the nerve of passion? Has your passion cooled ? If so, get back to the old. love by way of the closet; get back to the old joy by the way of the cross; preach the same old gospel you once had delight in, and the world which ap­ pears so cold to you will once again await your message. What kind of gospel are you offering souls? Is the kernel of it the love of God in its redeeming passion? Do you believe that souls are precious ? Know­ ing what it is to be redeemed, are you, out of a full, grateful, passionate heart, striving to save others? There are in­ sidious foes to watch, if our preaching is to become a nuisance to the devil! Humor may have its place, but the preacher who treats his office and his preaching in a light-hearted way can never be a man with a burning love

E VER to maintain the spiritual glow—this is the preacher’s con- r- stant battle. All too easily, pas­ sion and enthusiasm wane, and we are tempted to serve at the altar which once flamed high, but now is cold. A study of church history is a radical cure for indifference, lethargy, and sloth. All the mighty preachers of the past were men of passion. Joseph Alleine, says his biographer, preached the gospel “with shouting voice, flashing eye, and a soul on fire,” seeing that he was "infinitely and in­ satiably greedy for the conversion of souls.” John Bunyan, in Grace Abounding, gives us a glimpse into his own heart: “In my preaching I have really been in pain, and have, as it were, travailed to bring forth children to God; neither could I be satisfied unless some fruits did appear in my work.” As Richard Baxter stepped into his Kiddermister pulpit, this, he says, was the peal which conscience rang in his ears: “Dost thou believe what thou sayest? Art thou in earnest or in jest? Shouldest thou not weep over such a people, and should not thy tears interrupt thy words?” Francis of Assisi preached by the "imperious need of kindling others with the flame that burned within himself.”

for souls. Yes, and may we ever be on our guard against joking over solemn things. If we would have people broken by the truth, we must ever handle it seriously and believingly. And then, I may be wrong, but as far as I can judge, censoriousness ruins passion. Truth is contended for in a most hard, loveless, contentious fashion. But souls are not won by hard words. Further, the harsh argumentative man­ ner damages the finer feelings of a pastor’s heart and all unconsciously turns his passion into poison. The woo­ ing note goes, and strife becomes the preacher’s weapon. The herald becomes a dictator. But when a man starts to dictate, he loses the power to persuade. Naked plainness of speech there may be, but it savors of a boxing match rather than of the King’s garden. Further, a wrong emphasis of a right truth seems to injure a man’s pure pas­ sion, for passion can only thrive on a full-orbed gospel. Show me the preacher who is forever riding some theological hobbyhorse, and you show me a preach­ er who somehow lacks Christ’s com­ passion. Under the subject of “Exces­ sive Narrowness,” Bishop Quayle deals with this peril. He says: “No .man has the right to turn the pulpit into a hippodrome, where he may ride his hobby. The hobby rider is a man shorn of half his strength. He goes to his task de- . [Continued on Page 492]

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