Saturday, January 19, 2008

Neglect of the Holy Spirit in Preaching

I am preaching on the Holy Spirit tomorrow. (I initially typed I am preaching IN the Holy Spirit tomorrow. While the first is definitely true, my prayer is that the second is true as well). There is in the material that I gleaned, but will NOT be using this quote on preaching and athe Holy Spirit. It is by Albert Mohler Jr., the President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary:

The preacher stands before the congregation as the external minister of the Word, but the Holy Spirit works as the internal minister of that same Word. A theology of preaching must take the role of the Spirit into full view, for without an understanding of the work of the Spirit, the task of preaching is robbed of its balance and power.

The neglect of the work of the Spirit is a symptom of the decline of biblical Trinitarianism in our midst. Charles H. Spurgeon warned, “You might as well expect to raise the dead by whispering in their ears, as hope to save souls by preaching to them, if it were not for the agency of the Holy Spirit.” The Spirit performs His work of inspiration, indwelling, regeneration, and sanctification as the inner minister of the Word; it is the Spirit's ministry of illumination that allows the Word of the Lord to break forth.

Both the preacher and the hearers are dependent upon the work of the Holy Spirit for any adequate understanding of the text. As Calvin warned, “No one should hesitate to confess that he is able to understand God's mysteries only in so far as he is illumined by God's grace. He who attributes any more understanding to himself is all the more blind because he does not recognize his own blindness.” This has been the confession of great preachers from the first century to the present, and the absence of a conscious dependence upon the Holy Spirit is a sign that the preacher does not understand his task and calling. Tertullian, for example, called the Spirit his “Vicar” who ministered the Word to himself and to his congregation.

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