Thoughts from Horatius Bonar Pt. 2

Posted: February 16, 2010 in Uncategorized

Seriousness in the ministry, especially the pulpit ministry, seems to be lacking.  The preacher has become an entertainer more than a herald of the Word of God.  A man who is funny in the pulpit is more applauded than the man who preaches with fire and earnest (not at all saying that humor in the pulpit is categorically excluded).  Horatius Bonar has some words to the man who would preach with “coldness.” 

The right attitude of the preacher is one of sincerity and earnestness.  When the preacher climbs into the pulpit there should be a weight that sits upon his shoulders.  This is the Word of God the man is called to handle, and to handle rightly (2 Timothy 2:15).  There should be no “lifeless discourse” spewing forth from the mouth of the preacher.  The lesson learned from “lifeless discourse…is, that, since these men (lifeless preachers) do not believe the doctrines they are preaching, there is no need of their hearers believing them.”  If I can speak about the things of God without passion, do I do them justice?  Am I cold and lifeless when talking about eternal things?  Do my emotions display unbelief in the things of which I speak?  Do I communicate what the Word of God communicates in the way it communicates?  Horatius put it this way, “How many souls have been lost for want of earnestness, want of solemnity, want of love in the preacher, even when the words uttered where precious and true!”

The Joker once asked Batman, “Why so serious?”  I can hear the modern Christian asking the same question, “Why so serious?”  What could possibly warrant more seriousness than the things of God?  Indeed, we are a culture serious about a lot of things.  We are serious about our politics, global warming, and even our sports (ask any UK basketball fan) etc.  Do these things warrant more seriousness than the heralding of the Word of God?  Souls are at stake here.  Both the winning of souls and the maturation of souls.  Allow me to quote Horatius at length:

The question, therefore, which each of us has to answer to his own conscience is, ‘Has it been the end of my ministry, has it been the desire of my heart to save the lost and guide the saved?  Is this my aim in ever sermon I preach, in every visit I pay?  Is it under the influence of this feeling that I continually live and walk and speak?  Is it for this I pray and toil and fast and weep?  Is it for this I spend and am spent, counting it, next to the salvation of my own soul, my chiefest joy to be the instrument of saving others?  Is it for this that I exist?  To accomplish this would I gladly die?  Have I seen the pleasure of the Lord prospering in my hand?  Have I seen souls converted under my ministry?  Have God’s people found refreshment from my lips and gone upon their way rejoicing, or have I seen no fruit of my labors, and yet am content to remain unblest?  Am I satisfied to preach, and yet not know of one saving impression made, one sinner awakened?'”

What is more serious than that?  “Lifeless discourse” has no place in the life and ministry of a man driven by the above desires!  And what is the content of this serious ministry?  It is none other than truth itself:  the Word of God.  “It is not opinions that man needs:  it is Truth.  It is not theology:  it is God.  It is not religion:  it is Christ.  It is not literature and science; but the knowledge of the free love of God in the gift of His only-begotten Son.” 

Preachers, meet the opinions of men with the Truth of God.  The question is only, as Richard Baxter asked, “Art thou in earnest, or in jest?”

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