You Aren't Wrong. Something Has Changed In Our Pulpits...

You aren't wrong. Something has changed in our pulpits.

For five years I have run Revived Thoughts. In that time we have brought back to life over 200+ sermons. And we have gone through the stories of  amazing men of God. 

But sermons back then were different than sermons today. It's not just "Sinners in the Hands of An Angry God." Whether its Cotton Mather's "What Must I Do To Be Saved?" or Calvin's "Passion of the Christ," or John Wesley's sermon on raising children, there is a different atmosphere to the sermons of the past.

Spurgeon once said he knew the people of his church weren't all saved because if they were, the London crime rate wouldn't be so high.

BB Warfield once called out too many in his congregation for being empty clanging gongs.

Basil once said that the greatest donor in his church was Death, because people only gave through their wills.

These were preachers who weren't afraid to tell their congregation the truth.

These are men who spoke with urgency. Spurgeon once compelled his congregation, commanded them, begged them, reasoned with them, bargained with them, and at the end said (paraphrasing), "If I have left off any other way to tell you to come to Christ, do not let the method put you off, just come to Christ!" 

Increase once preached to his congregation that self-murder was a sin and later a man told him he was planning to say goodbye to the church and die that day.

Samson Occom told a man literally about to be hanged (as the execution preacher this man requested) there was only a minute left to repent before he burned forever. Then he turned to the audience for the execution and told them all that this was the fate of their congregants if they didn't take the call to preach Christ seriously.

Lemuel Haynes once preached against Universal Salvation the very minute a universalist stepped out of the pulpit. He didn't wait until the next week he did it right then! 

Peter Kierkegaard, late in the evening after an entire Mormon service at a friend's house, then gave a 2 hour rebuttal to the Mormons while people checked the Bible for every reference he made to Scripture. He didn't say next week we'll give a Bible study on it, he did it right then!

Why were they urgent? They knew they had to be. DL Moody once was worried he'd whip his congregation into making an emotional decision for Christ. So he told his congregation that next week he'd make an altar call. That this week think long and hard about it and next week come ready to give your life to God. 

As they sang the last song of the day, he heard city bells ringing. Before he even could get home half of the city was ablaze in The Great Chicago Fire. Several of his congregants died and he never again preached before that congregation. His church went up with the flames. 

He vowed to NEVER make that mistake again.

Spurgeon while preaching had a similar "fire" incident. When a man shouted fire in his very crowded church the people ran for the doors. Many were injured, and people died. He learned that people sitting in his church pews that week might not be the next.

Jonathan Edwards early in his revival preaching got the unexpected news that his uncle, convinced he could never be saved, had killed himself. If not for the preaching of Whitefield in his church a year later, that might have ended the Great Awakening forever. Listening to Whitefield he realized his words had not damned his uncle, but that if he did not preach again others may die lost. He felt surrendered and renewed again. 

These men knew that the words of the Gospel were life. And that the preaching of it meant everything. That the days are urgent. 

They weren't worried about sound bites, book deals, conference speakers, podcasts, social media tweets, or all these other things we care about today. They knew the call was urgent, and the Gospel was powerful when preached by those who believe it.

After years of reading their sermons, two things stand out again and again. They BELIEVE the Bible, and preach in such a way to make you believe it as well. If you read Jonathan Edwards sermons, you never come out thinking he does not believe in Heaven, and believe in Hell. It's clear on every line.

And secondly, they are courageous. No matter the cost, they will tell you the truth. No matter the audience, they will share God's truth. Ambrose preached while Roman Guards tried to enter the building and said if we die, at least let us be useful in our deaths as the dumb donkey Christ rode in on. 

These are the two things that stand out throughout the greats of church history. Whether it's the early church fathers or the recently deceased, those who are remembered bear these two distinctions clearly. Belief in God's Word and courage. 

They don't have to be seminary educated, but many are. They don't have to be in front of thousands, but some were. They don't have to have amazing voices, although some did. They don't have to be funny, though they could be. The two things that unite poets like Richard Sibbes, young men like Andrew Gray, old lions like Warfield and Machen, and passionate pastors like Spurgeon and Wesley is this: Belief and courage. 

Let us go and preach and teach and minister in such a way. Let us believe God's Word so truly it draws others to believe it. And let us do so courageously without the fear of man entering the picture. 

And let us be urgent, for the days are shorter than we realize.