Earnest preaching and worldliness

It is easy, I have found, to fall into a lull in preaching where I forget that souls are eternal and the body is quickly fading. Our country is in need especially of earnest preaching that reminds sinners every week that the temporal life will soon peel back like a stage background to reveal the eternal world (1 Cor. 7:31). Naturally the world and even Christians tend to think more about the temporal world than the eternal. This breads a host of problems and sinful thinking.

So back to John Angell James’ powerful book, An Earnest Ministry. This week we will look at the need of earnestness from the pulpit concerning specific topics of concern. I think it is especially important to note that James is not forgetting the Spirit’s work in all of this. He does not think earnest ministry alone saves and sanctifies. He understands earnest preaching as a type of serious preaching that the Spirit of God answers to and blesses (see pp. 190-191). Here then is the first reason that makes earnest preaching so needful: Worldliness.

“What can be sufficient but an intense devotedness on the part of ministers to make things unseen and eternal bear down the usurping power of things seen and temporal? Who but the man that knows how to deal with invisible realities, and to wield the powers of the world to come, can pluck the worldling from the whirlpool of earthly mindedness, which sucks down so many, or prevent the professing Christian from being drawn into it? If our own minds are not much impressed with the awful glories and terrors of eternity, we cannot speak of these things in such a manner as is likely to rescue our hearers from the ruinous fascinations of Mammon. How we seem to want a Baxter and a Doolittle; an Edwards and a Howe; a Whitefield and a Wesley, to break in with their thunder upon the money-loving, money-grasping spirit of this grossly utilitarian age!”

– John Angell James, An Earnest Ministry: The Want of the Times (Banner of Truth, 1847/1993) pp. 192-193.

“Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you” (Ps. 73:25, ESV).

3 thoughts on “Earnest preaching and worldliness

  1. Great post. This is something I am often convicted about. It starts with us. If we are consumed with the temporal we will never be able to deliver our hearers from worldliness. That is the daily challenge–to keep our focus on the eternal and not the temporal.

  2. Derek,

    Isn’t that the truth. Its too easy to fake it on Sunday mornings and then live un-earnest the rest of the week. I think it was Spurgeon who said earnest preaching must come from earnest men. He stresses the importance of earnest conversations and a home life centered around the unseen!! I have much work on here myself by God’s grace. Thanks for letting me know I’m not the only one struggling!!

    – Tony

  3. I have had an instance or two when I had to pause momentarily while delivering sunday sermon, when the Spirit points the sword of the Word back to me candidly convicting me of the occassion the world did attract and seem attractive. Indeed I praise the Lord for such revelation which prompts us to instantly withdraw from the transgressing step!!

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