In January, I delivered a paper at the Grace Pastors Fellowship, a ministry of the Sovereign Grace Fellowship of Canada. The paper was entitled “Heart Preaching”. While it is mainly talking to pastors about preaching, I think it may have some relevance to any Christian who is concerned about delivering truth to people. So, over the next little while I will be posting snippets from it. You can listen to it here if you care to.
Andrew Bonar, in his biography of Robert Murray M’Cheyne, tells the following story regarding an encounter he had with M’Cheyene:
I remember on one occasion, when we met, he asked what my last Sabbath’s subject had been. It had been ‘the wicked shall be turned into hell.’ On hearing this awful text, he asked, ‘Were you able to preach it with tenderness?’
It’s a telling account. It speaks of M’Cheyne’s love for souls, his pastoral heart, his conformity to Christ and his awareness that it is easier to rage against sin in anger than warn sinners with love.
We are going to consider the matter of heart preaching. I was not given great detail about where to take the title of this lecture today and I had enough wisdom not to call those who gather to decide on such things. Finding out with exactitude what was being asked would have hemmed me in far too much and so on the basis that it easier to get forgiveness than permission I chose to take this matter to two places.
Heart preaching is preaching that comes from the heart.
Heart preaching is preaching that goes to the heart.
II Heart preaching is preaching from the heart
A Passionate Heart
Heart preaching is preaching with passion. My dictionary defines passion as:
“any intense, extreme, or overpowering emotion or feeling. A strong desire or affection for some object, cause etc.”
How we need passion in the pulpit! The people we shepherd and preach to, need to know that the truth of God has rivetted our hearts to Him and His truth. They need to hear from men who have spent much time with God, not because they had the duty of laying out Scripture to them for forty-five minutes, but because it was their great joy and delight to be allowed the privilege. The blessed man is the one who is in the Law of the Lord and on that Law meditates day and night – not because he has to, but because he gets to. We hold in our hands that which will still be around after heaven and earth pass away, and we have been permitted by God, who could deliver it much better than we can, to preach it to people so that they will know the God who became flesh and grow into conformity to Him. It is a stunning reality and we ought not to be able to practise preaching without our hearts being smitten by the wonder that God has called us to it.
Luke 24:32 – They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us
while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”
How we need to have our hearts set afire over the Word of God because we met with Him in the study closet and encountered the Word in a way that gripped us. I do not believe that we should be content to know a piece of truth and know how to exegete it and know how to explain it and illustrate it and apply it. We need to feel it. We need to feel it powerfully, deeply, personally, movingly. We need to feel its truth. We need to feel the conviction that the Holy Spirit brings when we encounter an exposing of our sin in it. We need to have it grip us so that we call out with the Psalmist “O how I love your law!!” (Psalm 119:97, 159). That cry did not come from a heart that was dry and matter of fact. Something grabbed him that caused him to cry out of his love for God’s word.