Column: We need God-dominated preaching
By Chipley Thornton
Special to The Tribune
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was a medical doctor-turned-preacher in England in the mid-1900’s. England’s churches were flailing. God used this man to spark a great revival.
The spark He used to ignite that revival was “God-dominated preaching.” What is God-dominated preaching? Lloyd-Jones said it was preaching that focused on exalting the God of Scripture. He identified three elements of God-dominated preaching: (1) God’s sovereignty; (2) God’s holiness; and, (3) God’s glory.
Preaching must not merely be “laced” with the sovereignty of God. It must be “saturated” with it. Lloyd-Jones counseled, “I can forgive a man a bad sermon, I can forgive the preacher almost anything if he gives me a sense of God, if he gives me something for my soul, if he gives me the sense that though he is inadequate in himself, he is handling something which is very great and glorious . . . If he does that, I am his debtor, and I am profoundly grateful to him” (Steve Lawson, The Passionate Preaching of Martyn Lloyd-Jones).
And again, “The Bible starts with God; you remember its great opening statement which really tells us everything: ‘In the beginning God . . .’” Why do people listen to preaching? To hear a story-teller tell stories? To hear a “life coach” tell them everything’s going to be ok? To be entertained by a clean comedy routine? No! People come to church to hear scripture declare that, although their life and the world around them seems to be in shambles . . . God is still sovereign and still sitting on His throne!
Preaching also must be saturated with the holiness of God. Lloyd-Jones observed, “You will never have a knowledge of sin unless you have a true conception of the holiness of God.”
Preaching the holiness of God ultimately leads us to His glorious justice on sin meted-out at the cross: “It is the holiness of God that demands the cross, so without starting with the holiness there is no meaning in the cross. It is not surprising that the cross has been discounted by modern theologians; it is because they have started with the love of God without His holiness.”
Such weak preaching as last described has much power to accumulate crowds, but little power to transform souls.
Finally, preaching must aim—dead-center—for the glory of God. What exactly is the “glory of God?” Lloyd-Jones explains, “It includes beauty, majesty, or better still, splendor. It also includes the idea of greatness and might and eternity. All these terms are included in this one term ‘glory.’ We cannot go beyond it.”
Of course, one of the greatest displays of His glory is His redeeming sinners. His redemption highlights many God-dominated attributes (love, mercy, goodwill, forgiveness, etc.). Lloyd-Jones summarizes, “[God’s glory] is displayed in everything he does. . . . We must emphasize that our salvation is the greatest and highest manifestation of the glory of God.”
The next time you hear a sermon, ask yourself:
- Did I hear the sovereignty of God proclaimed?
- Did I hear anything of the holiness of God uplifted?
- Did the message aim to glorify God and His Works or man and his?
If the answer to each of these questions is, “Yes,” then—by all means—bring others to hear a God-dominated preacher preach a God-dominated sermon!
Chipley Thornton is a pastor at First Baptist Church of Springville. The church’s website is fbcspringville.com.