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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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The Effectual Ministry Of The Word Of God

Charles H. Spurgeon

What is it that we need to be effective preachers and teachers of the Word of God? Charles H. Spurgeon answers in this manner:

Brethren, we want to do our work rightly and effectively, and we cannot do it without power. . . .

We could be ministers, as some men are ministers, without any particular power, either natural, or acquired. Merely to perform services (to use an ugly word) “perfunctorily” does not require special endowments. Any speaking machine might do as well. There are ministers whose sermons, and whose whole services, are so much a matter of routine, and so utterly lifeless, that if power from on high were to come upon them, it would altogether bewilder them. Nobody would know them to be the same persons; the change would seem too great. The same things are said, in the same tone and manner, year after year. I have heard of a preacher, whom one of his people likened to a steeple, which had but two bells in it, for, he said, “It is always ding dong, ding dong, ding dong, and ding dong.” “Oh!” said his friend, “you ought to be abundantly grateful that you have as much variety as that, for our man has only one bell, and his voice is for ever ding, ding, ding, ding.” When this is the case among Nonconformists it ruins the congregations, for it is death to every possibility of collecting people to hear; and still more is it murder to all hope of their being improved if they do hear. I should think it is by no means difficult, with a liturgy, to be read without much alteration all the year round, to become a fine example of either the ding dong, or the ding, ding; but with us, whose devotion is of a free sort, there is less excuse for monotony, and if we fall into the fault the result will be more disastrous. It is possible, even without a liturgy, to pray in a very set and formal style; indeed, it is so possible as to be frequent, and then the long prayer becomes a severe infliction upon an audience, and the shorter prayers are not much better. When I have thought of the preaching of certain good men, I have wondered, not that the congregation was so small, but that it was so large. The people who listen to them ought to excel in the virtue of patience, for they have grand opportunities for exercising it. I have frequently said of myself that I would not go across the road to hear myself preach; but I will venture to say of certain brethren that I would even go across the road in the other direction not to hear them preach. Some sermons and prayers lend a color of support to the theory of Dr. William Hammond, that the brain is not absolutely essential to life. Brethren, I trust that not even one of you will be content with mechanical services devoid both of mental and spiritual force. You will, none of you, covet earnestly the least gifts, and the dullest mannerisms, for you can obtain them without the exertion of the will. You desire to do your Master’s work as it ought to be done, and therefore you long for excellent gifts, and still more excellent graces. You wish that people may attend to your discourse; because there is something in it worthy of their attention. You labor to discharge your ministry, not with the lifeless method of an automaton, but with the freshness and power which will render your ministry largely effectual for its sacred purposes. (“The Preacher’s Power and the Conditions of Obtaining it”)

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