07 (July 2017)

Pulpit Aflame

Pulpit Aflame
John Palmer
John Palmer John Palmer lives in Ormskirk, Lancashire.
25 June, 2017 2 min read

This is an excellent book. It should be put into the hands of every man feeling called to preach. It is also helpful for those who, by God’s grace, have been preaching for many years. There are still things to learn which this book can teach.

It takes the form of essays on preaching written in honour of Steven J. Lawson (recently retired from ministry in Mobile, Alabama). The essays range from the superb to the merely very good. Here is a summary of a few highlights.

John MacArthur reminds us that it is the Word we must preach. He gives nine imperatives from 2 Timothy 1:1-5. This theme is spoken of or assumed by all the writers. ‘To preach’ is shorthand for ‘to preach the Word of God’; nothing else counts. Many can speak to a congregation, but few preach God’s Word.

R. C. Sproul exhorts preachers to feed Christ’s sheep with the Word, not to entertain them. Joel Beeke takes us to Zwingli, Calvin, Bullinger, Beza and Perkins for examples of the recovery of expository preaching in the Reformation.

Preaching must not just inform; it should transform. Indeed, it must be regarded as the highest act of worship. God’s people depend on it for their spiritual lives — so Derek Thomas, Sinclair Ferguson and Al Mohler instruct us.

Why does anyone rightly preach? For the glory of God. In such preaching Christ is proclaimed by the power of the Holy Spirit — so we are reminded by Robert Godfrey, John J. Murray and Michael Haykin.

The last section of the book is a fitting climax. There is much wise counsel on preparing and preaching sermons. These should inform the mind, inflame the heart and inspire the will to obedience.

There is so much worth quoting that it is almost impossible to choose. Here is Derek Thomas, paraphrased: ‘Assuming … that the first consideration ought to be the final goal one wishes to achieve, a great deal of preaching fails for precisely this reason. There is information … exegesis … enthusiasm and emotion … But there is little if any conviction’ (p.77). To find out why this is so (and many other insights), buy this book!

John Palmer


John Palmer
John Palmer lives in Ormskirk, Lancashire.
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