“ We want John Knox back again. Do not talk to me of mild and gentle men, of soft manners and squeamish words; we want the fiery Knox; and even though his vehemence should “ding our pulpits into blads,” it were well if he did but rouse our hearts to action. We want Luther, to tell men the truth unmistakably, in homely phrase. The velvet has got into our minister’s mouths of late, but we must unrobe ourselves of soft raiment, and truth must be spoken, and nothing but truth…“
Charles Spurgeon spoke these words as he confronted the heretical, velvety tongued preachers of his day, in this case, preachers who taught baptismal regeneration.
Spurgeon saw the problem of our day in his.
We must raise Knoxs, and Luthers, and Calvins, and Stotts, and Pipers to the Pulpit.
Doubtless, the velvet has indeed crawled into to0 many Pastor’s mouths. There is an epidemic of God ignoring, Word embarrassed, people pleaser preachers infecting an assembly in a church building near you. How shall the evangelical Church comeback to combat such a ghastly gangrene of preaching?
1. Pray for the harvesters. Our Redeemer tells us in Luke 10:2, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out the laborers into his harvest.” We pray specifically and with bated breath that our sovereign God will raise up men who will “Preach the Word” (2 Timothy 4:2) in season and out of season, when popular and not popular: at all times.
2. Avoid Clergy snobbery while still elevating the call to preach. There was once a day when society at large lumped the occupation of Pastor in with the occupations of Lawyer, Professor, and Medical Dr. Not so much in the present era. This is in some ways good, for we preach the prestige of our Providential God; not ours. However, we should instill in our young men the fact that being a Pastor is indeed a glorious and good way to spend one’s life on earth. There are too many families that will try to talk their young men out of contemplating a life of teaching and preaching with brash blanket statements such as, “You’ll live in a fishbowl”, “They’ll treat your wife like an unpaid employee”, “Your kids will grow up to hate the Gospel…you know what they say about ‘Preacher Kids'”, and let us not forget, “You’ll be dirt poor”.
How Are Your Feet Looking?
Ah, yes, and so much more I’m sure. Perhaps the preacher does feel on his darker days as though he lives in a swarm of mosquitos. But self pity does not suit the Preacher of God’s good word for we labor for His glory, not ours. We remember that Jesus is the All Shepherd. We simply follow His path, and echo His words. This is what faithfulness is. We would do well to read this passage to ourselves and to the young men:
“But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written ‘how beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!'” Paul. Romans 10:14-15
3. Speak potential and possibility into young men’s lives. Let them know that God can turn them into His workman. Tell this to all the young people you disciple. Only God can build a Pastor. We will often look at a young man and see far less than God sees; for God trusts in His own transformative power more so than we who have been transformed by it. Funny how we all tend to forget how far God has taken us when looking at another who is far from being conformed to the image of Christ. We would do well to remember and rejoice in God’s words through Paul as found in 1 Corinthians 1:26-27 “For consider your calling, brothers; not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.”
Amen to the Words Spurgeon spoke so long ago. We want the fiery Knox. We want Luther. We want all Pastors to Preach the Word with passion and conviction while preparing the next generation of Pastors to be tested and worthy to take the torch when it is time.
And please: leave the velvet at home.