Theme Number One in the Church

I picked up a copy of Helmut Thielicke’s Encounter with Spurgeon.  Essentially it is a 45 page reflection on Spurgeon’s homiletics by a theologian you might not expect to rave so wildly about his work and ministry, followed by selected highlights from Spurgeon’s writings.  I have not read Thielicke since studying ethics at seminary, but I will have to be disciplined not to just copy most of the 45 pages here in the next few days!  However, I do think this can be a Thielicke on Spurgeon week as far as this blog is concerned.

It would be well for a time like ours to learn from this man.  For our preaching is, to be sure, largely correct, exegetically “legitimate,” workmanlike and tidy; but it is also remarkably dead and lacking in infectious power.  Very often it strikes us as an unreal phantom that hovers above and is isolated from what people feel are the actual realities of their life and what they talk about in their language.  There can be no doubt that for many preachers it is simply an escape when, in the face of this failure to get returns in the area of preaching, they take flight into the cultivation of liturgical ceremonial and even make a virtue of the vice of wanting to ignore the times and live in some timeless, spiritual world.

In this desperate situation which threatens to break down even the best of men – for it is a desperate thing to feel the burden of souls committed to our charge and not to be able to do anything about it – everything depends upon our gaining some standards for that which is “Theme Number One” of the church – our preaching. (p.2)

We can be technically good, but effectually useless.  If the preaching doesn’t connect with listeners in a meaningful way, then it is a ghostly imitation of the real thing.  So, for many preachers struggling with their ineffectual ministry, it is an easier cop out to act as if it is good to be irrelevant and aloof.  But souls are going to a lost eternity and we can’t do anything about it, and yet we can, we must, do this one thing – we must pursue effectual preaching because that is the main thing in the church.

2 thoughts on “Theme Number One in the Church

  1. It’s so funny how the holy spirit works sometimes. Peter I was driving into work today and thinking about my life everything from preaching, teaching, being a husband, my work life, and be a son to my mom even. Here is what the Holy Spirit brought to my attention. I am preparing to preach a night of a youth Revival and God directed me to talk about David’s calling into Saul’s castle to play the harp. The thing stuck out to me is that David understood how Great GOD was and thats why he worked so hard with the SHEEP, while Samuel was at Jesse’s house David was the only one working. While averyone sat he worked. Here is the point the Holy Spirit made fresh to me. We should do our greatest job no matter what it is. Weather you clean the church, your house, your car. Weather you preach drive the church van, teach, everything we should do to do the greatest job because of how Great our GOD IS. HIS GREATNESS SHOULD BE SEEN IN HOW WE TREAT EVEN THE SMALL THINGS. It seems like preaching is dry when we don;t expalin the GREATNESS of God and how that should be refflected in our lives. We sing how GREAT THOU ART, but do we live and prepare our messages the same way. HE is Great and because HE is great our service to Him should be just as great.

    Sorry this got long just felt that by reading this thats what i always get when I read or Hear Spurgeons stuff, his preaching was powerful because he UNDERSTOOD HOW GREAT THOU ART at every level, not just in preaching.

    Thanks again for your help.

  2. Amen! Thielicke and Spurgeon aren’t a combination I might have thought about beforehand but they’re both captured by Christ so it makes sense.

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