Today’s post is a brief diversion from the narrative in order to quote from the Conclusion of Pastor Steven J. Lawson’s book “The Expository Genius of John Calvin.” In describing Calvin’s expository genius, Lawson describes also what we, as individual believers and as the body of the church desperately need, whether we realize it or not.
Pastor Lawson begins “we now stand in the twenty-first century, almost five hundred years removed from John Calvin’s time, but we find ourselves in an equally critical hour of redemptive history” (131).What is this criticality? Spiritual bankruptcy. “As the organized church was spiritually bankrupt at the outset of Calvin’s day, so it is again in our time” (131).
The large churches, the large choirs, the men’s retreats packed to capacity, says Lawson (and I agree) “masks her [the Church’s] true internal condition.” This is no surprise and would find agreement among many believers, though they might disagree as to the extent of the decline. What few agree upon is the solution. What can we do to regain the spiritual heart of God’s church, so that God may be glorified? “There are no new remedies for old problems. We must come back to old paths. We must capture the centrality and pungency of biblical preaching once again” (132). Pungency. I love that word. It reminds me of mushrooms bundled in a heap in the outdoor market, or the smell of just-turned earth in the fall when everything is moist and rotten and full of promise for the spring. “There must be a decisive return to preaching that is Word-driven, God-exalting, Christ-centered, and Spirit-empowered” (132).
Finally, quoting Spurgeon, Lawson closes. “I do not look for any other means of converting men beyond the simple preaching of the gospel and the opening of men’s ears to hear it” (133). I agree with Lawson that we must have Calvin’s again, and we will have Calvin’s again. As believers we must pray, and support those preachers who preach the word of God faithfully and well.
All quotations taken from Steven J. Lawson’s book “The Expository Genius of John Calvin,” Reformation Trust publishers, a division of Ligonier Ministries, 2007.
For excellent expository preaching, might I recommend:
Pastor Steven J. Lawson, Christ Fellowship Baptist Church, Mobile, Alabama, http://www.sermonaudio.com/source_detail.asp?sourceid=christfellowship
Pastors John Shearer and Andy Dalrymple, Musselburgh Baptist Church, http://musselburghbaptist.org
Pastor Sinclair Ferguson, First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, South Carolina, http://firstprescolumbia.org
Pastors Derek Thomas and Ligon Duncan, First Presbyterian Church, Jackson, Mississippi, http://fpcjackson.org.
(Former) Pastor Dick Lucas, Proclamation Trust, http://www.proctrust.org.uk/search/luceneapi_node/dick%20lucas
Pastor Philip de Courcy, Kindred Community Church, Anaheim Hills, California, and Know The Truth ministries, http://ktt.org.
Soli Deo Gloria