Subscribe now

Seven Leaders – Preachers & Pastors20

By Iain H. Murray
January 2018 | Review by Guy Davies
  • Publisher: Banner of Truth Trust
  • ISBN: 978-1-84871-739-8
  • Pages: 284
  • Price: 15.00
Buy this book »

Book Review

The author is convinced that important lessons may be learned from ministers of bygone ages. He presents role models for aspiring ministers to follow, men whose example serves to both challenge and encourage.

Seasoned pastors will also benefit from reading this. If we are not careful, pastors can drift into going through the motions of ministry rather than it being the overflow of deep communion with God. These pages help provide a necessary corrective. Readers who are not called to preach or pastor will, nonetheless, find their souls stirred by Murray’s accounts of seven exceptional gospel ministers.

Attention is given to: John Elias, Andrew A. Bonar, Archibald Brown, Kenneth A. MacRae, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, W. J. Grier and John MacArthur. Rather than provide potted biographies of these varied characters, Murray attempts to show what made them tick; they are diverse individuals, called to serve the Lord at different times and in different situations; some with more academic training than others, but all wonderfully used by the Lord to accomplish great things.

That said, these ‘magnificent seven’ had a number of things in common that helps account for their usefulness. They were all strongly Calvinistic, some at a time when Reformed doctrine was unfashionable. They all stood for the sovereign grace of God, convinced that the great truths of Calvinism were thoroughly biblical. Murray shows that they endeavoured to make their content-rich sermons as clear, logical and easy to follow as possible. Helpful instances are given as to how they did that.

The importance of prayer in ministry is highlighted in the chapter on Andrew A. Bonar. Readers will be humbled and challenged to yearn for a closer walk with God through his example. There is a need today for the empowering presence of the Spirit in our preaching. All the preachers described here were men who longed and prayed for the Spirit’s work upon their preaching and in the lives of their hearers. God alone is able to give preaching its life-transforming effectiveness.

Luther once wrote: ‘It is not by reading, writing or speculation that one becomes a theologian. Nay, rather, it is living, dying and being damned that makes one a theologian’. The same may be said of pastors. Murray shows that the Lord made these men tender-hearted shepherds of the flock by bringing suffering and trials into their lives. This is especially clear in the chapter on Spurgeon’s friend, Archibald Brown.

This book is a standing reminder of this vital fact: ‘What a preacher is as a Christian is of greater consequence than his natural gifts. In the words of M’Cheyne: “It is not great talents that God blesses so much as great likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God”’ (p.61).

Guy Davies

Westbury

Tags:
Andrew Bonar

Book Reviews

Read our latest book reviews

Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
Why Should I Trust the Bible?

We should trust the Bible, says Timothy Paul Jones, because it is ‘grounded in the words of a man who died and rose again’ (p.111). Jones’s basic presupposition is this: ‘If we live in a world where it is possible…

See all book reviews
Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
Who Am I? Human Identity and the Gospel in a Confusing World
Thomas Fretwell

In today’s secular society, religion is often regarded as without rational or scientific basis, and therefore irrelevant to life in the modern world and all areas of public engagement. If that is our social context, then it is no wonder…

Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
The Pastor’s Life: Practical Wisdom from the Puritans
Matthew D Haste & Shane W Parker

This book highlights ‘some of the many lessons that today’s pastors can learn from the Puritans’ (p.151). As such it is aimed at pastors, but the lessons are really for anyone who is a Christian leader. The opening chapter provides…

Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
5 Minutes in Church History: An Introduction to the Stories of God’s Faithfulness in the History of the Church
Stephen J Nichols

What a breath of fresh air this book is! Stephen Nichols has given us 40 vignettes from church history that are brief enough to be digested over a bowl of cereal. The book doesn’t aim to be a beginner’s guide…