D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The Primacy of Preaching


“People say that the preachers stand in their pulpits and preach their sermons, but that there before them are individuals with their individual problems and sufferings. So the argument runs, you ought to preach less and spend more time doing personal work and counseling and interviewing.

My reply to this argument is to suggest, once more, that the answer is to put preaching into the primary position. Why? For this reason that true preaching does deal with personal problems, so much so that true preaching saves a great deal of time for the pastor. I am speaking out of forty years of experience. What do I mean? Let me explain.

The Puritans are justly famous for their pastoral preaching. They would take up what they called ‘cases of conscience’ and deal with them in their sermons; and as they dealt with these problems they were solving the personal individual problems of those who were listening to them. That has constantly been my experience. The preaching of the Gospel from the pulpit, applied by the Holy Spirit to the individuals who are listening, has been the means of dealing with personal problems of which I as the preacher knew nothing until people came to me at the end of the service saying, ‘I want to thank you for that sermon because if you had known I was there and the exact nature of my problem, you could not have answered my various questions more perfectly. I have often thought of bringing them to you but you have now answered them without doing so.’

The preaching had already dealt with the personal problems. Do not misunderstand me, I am not saying that the preacher should never do any personal work; far from it. But I do contend that preaching must always come first, and that it must not be replaced by anything else.”

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Preaching & Preachers, p.37

HT: Joel Taylor

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  • http://presenting.lifemax.net/ Meghan

    Preaching from the pulpit allows for a widespread message that members of the audience can then pick apart and apply to their own lives, because the whole message may not apply. However, it is always good to know that the preacher is trying to live just as he preaches and that often involves one-on-one interaction. The pulpit has its place or role in your position.

    • http://hardwords.wordpress.com Aaron Armstrong

      Great feedback, Meghan. Thanks.

  • http://www.preachology.com Mark Hollingsworth

    Great post. I agree that the primacy should be preaching. Preaching the whole council of God takes care of much counseling, though we still must take care of some things privately. Preach the Word, Brother.
    Thanks again for sharing.

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  • Wes

    Lloyd-Jone’s quote only applies if you see the Church through the limited and narrow scope of how it has existed in the past ~1500 years, as opposed to how the first Church existed immediately after the resurrection of Christ.

  • http://hardwords.wordpress.com Aaron Armstrong

    Doesn’t seem to stand in opposition to Paul’s instructions to Timothy (written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) to preach the word and find men to do the same–nor does it stand in opposition to the preaching of Peter, Paul and Jesus that’s recorded in Scripture. Just saying, is all…

  • Wes

    Preach = talking about.

    The Word = the message Christ gave us (ie. love).

    Paul tells Timothy to simply go forth and tell people that the Way to live life is the Way the Christ did: out of love. And he’s instructed to find other people (aka, not just MEN) to do the same. This is what a “preacher” should do. The traditional sense of the term is applied to someone who stands in front of an assembled mass that are arranged in pews and gives an attention-holding speech about certain verses in the Bible in order to occupy an hour of someones time. That is not true preaching. And all too often, it does not contain an ounce of love.

    • http://hardwords.wordpress.com Aaron Armstrong

      Remember though–the message that Christ gave us is not just “love.” It’s also “repent.” As in, turn from your false gods of self-righteousness and pride, and believe in the true God (as an example).

      His command was to love each other in light of the love that God has show us–in that He sent His Son to die on the cross for ill-deserving sinners like you and me. But again, it’s a commande that we bear fruit in keeping with repentence, which He enables.

      Now, do some preachers speak for an hour or more without an ounce of love? Absolutely. But, many do by preaching about social justice as the gospel and not a fruit of the gospel; by preaching that God wants you to be healthy and wealthy; by not preaching repentance of sin and belief in the sufficiency of Christ on the cross.

      And the vast majority of the preachers I know preach love–because they preach repentance.

  • Wes

    Do you know what the Greek word is/means that we translate as “repent”? The word is metanoeite. Meta means “again”. Noeite comes from the root word noia, which means “think”. In other words, it means to change your mind about something, as in the path that you’re currently headed down.

    To “repent” is to second guess your current path. It’s not the admittance of sin. It’s simply to think about what you’re doing. John the Baptist told the Jews this because he was drawing attention to the coming message of Christ, which (no matter how you has it) is love.

    The message for us, then, is to think about the path we’re on (the one that is mastered by a fallen world) and to accept how things were intended to be. God created this world to operate the way Jesus exhibits. That is why he’s the savior. John 1 says that God used the one we refer to as Jesus to create our universe. We were supposed to operate the same way that Jesus operated.

    Therefore, the message is love. Simply love.

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