Evangelistic Preaching: Spurgeon’s WaySeptember 23, 2009
Jonathan Watson (General Editor of the Banner of Truth) has put together an insightful paper which brings together Spurgeon’s thoughts on how to preach appropriately to unbelievers. You can read the full article over at Reformation Theology: Spurgeon on the Goal of Preaching. The bare-bones outline:
1. Depend entirely upon the Spirit of God and look to him for power over the minds of men.
2. Give prominent place in your preaching to those truths which are most likely to lead to conversions.
a. First and foremost Christ and him crucified. ‘
b. Teach the depravity of human nature.
c. Preach the necessity for the Holy Ghost’s divine operations.
d. Set before your hearers God’s justice and the certainty that every transgression will be punished.
e. Be most of all clear on the soul-saving doctrine of the atonement.
f. ‘If men are to be saved we must in plainest terms preach justification by faith alone, as the method by which the atonement becomes effectual in the soul’s experience . . . Justification by faith alone must never be obscured, and yet all are not clear upon it.’
g. Preach earnestly the love of God in Christ, and magnify the abounding mercy of the Lord; but always preach it in connection with his justice.
3. If we are anxious to see souls saved, we must not only preach the truths which are likely to lead to their conversion, but we must also use modes of handling these truths which are appropriate for securing that end.
b. Appeal to the understanding.
c. Plead with sinners by way of emotional persuasion.
d. Be careful to vary your tone – at times you need to threaten, at times to invite.
4. Think carefully about the times when you address the unconverted.
5. Among the important elements in the promotion of conversions are the preacher’s own tone, temper and spirit in preaching.
a. Don’t be dull and monotonous
b. Guard against a hard, unfeeling spirit in preaching.
c. Preach believingly, always expecting the Lord who has sent you to bless his own word.
d. ‘Preach very solemnly, for it is a weighty business, but let your matter be lively and pleasing, for this will prevent solemnity from souring into dreariness.’
e. Aim for conversions, expect them and prepare for them.
6. In addition to earnest preaching it will be wise to use other means. These may include:
a. Pastoral visitation – make yourself available to and converse with all your people
b. Special meetings for the awakened and anxious with a view to further instruction, prayer, and the sharing of testimonies by recent converts.
c. ‘Seek out the wandering sheep one by one, and when you find all your thoughts needed for a single individual, do not grudge your labour, for your Lord in his parable represents the good shepherd as bringing home his lost sheep, not in a flock, but one at a time upon his shoulders, and rejoicing to do so.’
d. ‘Call in every now and then a warm-hearted neighbour, utilize the talent in the church itself, and procure the services of some eminent soul-winner, and this may, in God’s hands, break up the hard soil for you, and bring you brighter days.’