Pointers for Preachers

Frigid Preaching, With All Deliberate Speed!, The Moment of Truth

FRIGID PREACHING

When John Calvin disliked any Biblical exegesis or sermon ma­terial he heard or came across, it is said that he had one scornful word for it— "Frigid!" This may sound strange to those who look upon John Calvin as the apostle of cold predesti-narianism. In actual fact, Calvin was no frigid preacher himself, for there was fire in his soul and fire in his preaching. He disdained any kind of cold preaching, that which did not give a warm and living glow to the soul of the hearers.

We as the depositaries of God's truth may be­come frigid in our presentations and aloof in our relationships. Many years ago Ellen G. White said, "Sermon after sermon upon doctrinal points is de­livered to people who come and go, some of whom will never have another as favorable opportunity of being convicted and converted to Christ."—Testi­monies, vol. 4, p. 313.

In the same connection she used this little sen­tence: "Too often this truth is presented in cold theory."—Ibid.

How dreadful that the soul-saving, life-filling truth of God's Word should be dressed up in a cloak o£ cold theory! The inference is inescapable—a man who so presents the saving truths of living faith cannot himself have felt the fire of God in his soul. There is something here that we preachers need to watch, for the servant of the Lord has said, "A theory of the truth without vital godliness can­not remove the moral darkness which envelops the soul."—Ibid., p. 314.

Let us be sure that in all we think and do and preach, we magnify Christ, so that He becomes a warm, living influence in the souls of our hearers.

H. W. L.

 

WITH ALL DELIBERATE SPEED!

The pace of change has quickened from a donkey trot to a rocket roar. In every phase of human experience the old gives way to the new. This generation is more concerned with effects than causes, and with sedation than cure. It is on its way in a hurry.

In view of this, the church is faced with a des­perate choice. It must adjust its approach or the world will pass it by. The sawdust trail is becoming a thing of the past. The "movement toward the front" has slowed down noticeably. The "mourner's bench" is now extinct. Worshipers tire more quickly of long sermons and protracted services. More wor­shipful fund-raising methods should replace some of the "stimulants" that cheapen the church repu­tation and shame the saints.

The Spirit-filled presentation of Bible truth that honors the laws of mind and spirit will replace the "weighty" discourses spoken "into the air." Sound principles of pastoral counseling will replace the inept efforts of the novice in dealing with "souls in conflict." Interesting and varied spiritual program­ing will replace the "regular midweek prayer serv­ice." Church officers will be selected on the basis of spirituality and capability, for their faces constitute the face of the church to the world. The youth pro­gram will be implemented and the weekly service must become a major church project. The idle laity will be harnessed, that each man may bear his share of the Lord's load.

Improvement is our watchword; advance, our battle cry. The rapidity of the last movements must never telescope the progress of the church. "The gospel to all men in our time"—this is the su­preme goal of all our effort. Let us proceed forth­with "with all deliberate speed."

E. E. C.

 

THE MOMENT OF TRUTH

Early in the year 1958 a large airplane was making a third attempt to take off from the slushy runway at the Munich Airport in Germany. It was carrying most of the members of a famous English football team and a number of journalists and famous sports writers. The plane crashed, and eight of the famous players were killed along with eight well-known newsmen, all within the space of fifty-four seconds.

Among the gravely injured lying in the hospital was the famous manager of the team and a certain sports writer, who recently testified to the power of prayer, in a meeting of church chaplains in the city of Manchester, England. Before a group of Christian leaders this man said that many people told him he was lucky. "But they were wrong," he said. "I wasn't lucky. I believe I was saved by prayer."

In the operating theater in a Munich hospital he saw lying helplessly beside him the manager in ques­tion. He saw the chaplains praying at the bedside, and he prayed too. From that moment he gathered strength, and after his recovery he paid tribute to the regular visits of these men who came to the bed­sides and prayed. "I believe with all my heart and soul that the chaplain's mission goes hand in hand with that of the surgeons and nurses."

It was these men and their prayers, with his own, that gave him the will to live and his present desire to serve God.

Visiting the sick can sometimes become monoto­nous and the visitor wonders whether he is accom­plishing anything. This is a testimony that should lead us all to feel that bedside prayers and visits to the sick will save people for the kingdom of God.

H. W. L.


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February 1961

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