The Kind of Preaching God Blesses (Book Review)
There are some books on preaching that are meant for preachers. These are books that teach the nuts and bolts of preaching, that are full of practical tips and illustration. There is a place for such works. There are other books on preaching that are meant for all Christians. These are books that describe the power and priority of preaching in the Christian church and in the Christian life. Steven Lawson's The Kind of Preaching God Blesses falls squarely in the second category. This is a book for all of us whether we preach weekly, preach occasionally or never preach at all.
The book has an interesting story behind it. In May of 2011, Lawson was to speak at the annual Pastors' Conference at Moody Bible Institute. He decided to do an exposition of 1 Corinthians 2:1-9 and titled it "The Kind of Preaching God Blesses." That message resounded with the men who attended the conference and Lawson himself experienced an unusually tangible sense of the Lord's assistance and pleasure in preaching it. He carried that message with him to Russia, to California and Orlando, and when he preached it, the Lord stirred his people. After all, every Christian knows, or ought to know, that "as the pulpit goes, so goes the church. Never has this been more true than it is in this present hour. The fact remains, no church can rise any higher than its pulpit. The spiritual life of any congregation and its growth in grace will never exceed the high-water mark set by its pulpit." That message is at the very heart of this book.
In classic Lawson fashion, he writes with a clear and alliterated structure. Drawing from 1 Corinthians 2:1-9 he looks to the poverty of modern teaching, the prohibition of worldly preaching, the preeminence of Christ in preaching, the power of the Spirit in preaching, the predestination of the Father in preaching, and the parade of faithful preachers. He writes not only to pastors, but to all Christians, to those who preach and to those who listen to preaching.
The week-to-week carrying out of the preaching ministry is the responsibility of the pastor. He is the one who must dedicate himself to studying and understanding and explaining the Word of God. Lawson is right that "as the pulpit goes, so goes the church." A pastor must understand what preaching is and why it matters and how to do it to the best of his ability. Lawson has penned a book that will challenge the pastor anew to dedicate himself to this most urgent of callings.
Yet the pastor is not the only person in a church who should understand the importance of preaching God's Word. Every Christian bears the responsibility to place himself in a church where God's Word is preached faithfully, for where the pulpit goes, so goes the Christian. Shallow preaching leads to shallow Christians; gospel-free preaching leads inevitably to gospel-free hearers. It is every Christian's responsibility to understand the power and necessity of preaching and every Christian's responsibility to be able to distinguish the kind of preaching the Bible demands from its many counterfeits. The Kind of Preaching God Blesses is exactly the kind of book a Christian should read to understand what kind of preaching it is that will best feed his soul and to understand his responsibility in planting himself under that kind of teaching.
I have read several other books by Steve Lawson and have often heard him preach. But what stood out to me in this book was that he loves preaching because he loves Jesus. His desire for powerful, expository preaching is first a desire to see his Savior proclaimed in power. He loves preaching not for its own sake, but because preaching exalts Christ, glorifies God, and calls God's people out of darkness and into light. He values good preaching-the best preaching-because it is in this kind of preaching that God is most glorified. Lawson's earnestness is contagious, his passion almost irresistible.
The Kind of Preaching God Blesses is an urgent call for pastors to preach God's Word in God's way, and an equally urgent call for all of us to demand and expect nothing less.
You can buy it at Amazon.