Some Notes on Preaching – The Sacred Anointing (Lloyd and Whitefield)
I like to read books on preaching and hermeneutics/exegesis. In fact – as a pastor I really should read at least one of each every year (and I usually do). This is for at least two reasons: I am not a very good preacher/exegete, and I should do everything to grow in these areas.
These days I picked up The Sacred Anointing: Preaching and the Spirit’s Anointing in the Life and Thought of Martyn Lloyd Jones. It is a great book which emphasizes the importance of “unction” – the necessity of Holy Spirit’s anointing for preaching.
What strikes me here (something that I like and totally agree with) is that Lloyd does not emphasize the manner/delivery of the sermon. He concentrates on the importance of the anointing (see also the quote from Spurgeon below).
Lloyd was meticulous in his study and preparation, but he also stressed the need for freedom in the pulpit:
“He has pleaded that preachers must know freedom in the pulpit – freedom from the restraints of time [how does this go with most churches today???], freedom from being tied to notes prepared in the study, freedom to go where the Holy Spirit is directing them…In the act of preaching there must be the unknown, dangerous, vulnerable element which leaves the preacher at the mercy of the Spirit.”
It appears that George Whitefield (one of the greatest English preachers of all time) would agree with Lloyd. Despite Whitefield’s eloquence – he was not pedantic in his style and delivery…there was a ‘noble negligence’ that ran through some of Whitefield’s sermons.
It seems that he “was not over-concerned about tidiness of composition,” and he did not sit down to write “wonderful literary masterpieces of sermons…he broke the rules of grammar, now and again he did not remember to finish his sentences always.” This is partly due to the fact that sometimes he did not have the time to prepare his addresses thoroughly (how many of us have this problem today?).
I believe in hard work and preparation for a sermon. But I also agree with the importance of freedom, and more than anything else, with the importance of the unction.
There should be a “noble negligence” [Lloyd-Jones exclaimed: “Oh that we had a little more of it…”]More freedom must be given to the Spirit, not only during the preparation, but especially during the delivery.
The sermon itself is the main thing…the sacred anointing upon the preacher, and the divine power applying the truth to the hearer…these are infinitely more important than any details of manner.
– C. H. Spurgeon