Sunday, August 30, 2009

Lloyd-Jones on Preaching

"Now this is the very opposite of inviting people to a quest or to a search. That idea has always been popular; this notion that a Christian is someone who is seeking and searching; someone who sets out on a journey into this vast unexplored expanse of truth. What is a Christian? "Well," people say, "Christians are men and women who do not just spend their time eating and drinking and indulging their passions. They are intelligent people and they set out in the search for truth and oh, it is thrilling; it is wonderful! The uncharted ocean, the promised land, the unknown; and off you set, with this thrill and excitement on the quest for truth." This has always been very popular. People like the idea; it appeals to their spirit of adventure and there have been those who have not hesitated to say this. Their criticism of our evangelical gospel has always been that it is too certain and too dogmatic.

The poets like saying this sort of thing, do they not? They of all people, have generally fooled themselves better than others-- "to travel hopefully is better than to arrive!" says one of them.

But life is not a game; it is not a play; it is not just play-acting. Oh, life is serious and solemn; it is real and it is earnest. And that is the sort of life of the world that we find ourselves in today. So I thank God that as I look at this, I am not invited to some great experiment or to some great search or question or journey of exploration. In the midst of my failure in life, with my heart breaking and my soul bleeding, and as I am almost giving up in despair, I suddenly hear a bugle call or a trumpet sounding, and I say, What is that? And, thank God, I hear an authoritative proclamation; I hear a man saying, "Listen, I am a herald, I have a message from the Imperial Palace; I announce to you." "Preaching!"...

But let me translate that into simpler, more ordinary language. My task [as a preacher] is to tell you that the answer to all your questions is in this one book, the Bible. If I am a herald (and, thank God, unworthy though I am, that is what I am) I am not here to tell you my theories and my ideas about life, for they are no better than yours. No, I have been given a message from the Imperial Palace and here it is. And I am here to tell you with authority, with the authority of God, that all your questions have already been answered and all your problems have already been solved. You have but to listen to this preaching, this proclamation, and you will find peace and rest for your soul.

And if you should be asked to pass from time to eternity today, you will know where you are going; you will not be alone; you will be able to say with the Apostle Paul, "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day" (2 Timothy 1:12). Thank God for preaching--proclamation, authoritative pronouncement!"

excerpts, The Kingdom of God by Martyn Lloyd-Jones, pgs. 12-14


Laurie M. said...

I love this quote!

The last thing I need in life is another adventure! I used to always say that adventure, and drama, and all the stuff movies are made of are experiences no one would really choose to go through on their own. Much of my life has been the stuff of the "made for TV" miniseries. I can tell you first hand, and I know you can attest to it as well, that kind of living is NOT entertaining. Having suffered a few dreadful things in life, I'm actually kind of horrified that we find it entertaining in the slightest to watch movies, etc, where people suffer.

It is also true that the only reason we are able to find such things entertaining is the fact that we are not in fact going through them ourselves. We watch knowing that when we stop watching we can go back to our lives of relative ease. Our own lack of agony is the safety net that allows us to think swinging out there in danger is fun and enjoy stories where others do just that. But real life does not provide a safety net. Real pain is not fun. I can tell you, that during the times of my darkest pain, I could not be entertained by stories of people's suffering. (I could not even watch the news, because I became aware of the buzzard like quality of the press preying with lust on the suffering of others, for the sake of the curiosity of others.) I could no longer be entertained because I'd learned the hard truth that what I thought was a safety net was a phantom. Tragedy can strike at any moment.

Yes, M. Lloyd-Jones, life is serious and solemn. It is not play acting. when confronted by real life, and real pain, we need a certain hope.
The gospel is the one and only thing that brings any measure of certainty into our lives.

(I may have to re-post this, if you don't mind.)

jeri said...

Laurie, well said. The real sufferings and sorrows of this life call for the true answers of the true gospel. You're right that those who want to speculate, who as Christians find doubt and uncertainty more attractive than authoritative truth (a la Rob Bell, say) are those who may not have faced the reality of life's deepest losses.