Part 4—The Preacher and His Preaching, A. P. Gibbs, Reprint 2002, Originally Printed 1939, Walterick Publishers
Progressing along with our series on the ‘best books on preaching,’ we come to another accidental find. This book has proved to be a treasure because it is absolutely loaded with material. It came on a recommendation from Mike Gaydosh who owns Solid Ground Christian Books just south of Birmingham, Alabama. I had purchased the works of Thomas Manton’s that comes in a 22 volume set. When I looked in the front of those books for the publisher, I found SGCB and was very surprised that it showed a Birmingham address. So I called the number and discovered a very friendly and hospitable man who owned the business.
So on my way to general conference in 2011, I stopped in to Mike’s “store.” It is actually his home but he has taken his basement and converted it into a bookstore/publishing and it is an absolute preachers’ paradise. His forte is reprinting massive amounts of old Puritan works that have languished in old libraries that only were available to students who had access to them. Perhaps I will do a blog on his place at a later time.
The day that I went, I was with my brother Mark and we loaded the back of his Honda with a whole bunch of books. When Mike began to see the types of books that I had an interest in, he used his expertise and recommended this book on preaching by Gibbs. The Preacher and His Preaching is a treasure trove. Although Mike did not have it in stock, I picked up a copy later. Although on that day I did pick up several other books solely related to preaching that I will review later this month.
Gibb’s book is absolutely packed with helpful material on preaching. It ranges from the spiritual, to the practical, and then a portion of the book is very technical in helping a preacher to become better at the art of preaching.
The first seventy-four pages comprise three chapters and all of them have to do with the qualifications of the preacher. I will list them below so you can see how provoking that this book is.
- He must be regenerated. There is a possibility of self-deception. The description of those mere professors.
- He must love the Lord Jesus. The love of Christ is the constraining motive for preaching. The great example given to preachers.
- He must love souls. It is possible to preach and not love souls. The need for a right estimate of the value of a soul.
- He must be a student of the Scriptures. He must know it by reading it. He must quote it. He study it by diligent application.
- He must be a man of prayer. Our example and encouragement in prayer. This regards the details of the preacher’s life and his service. Prayer in the life of Paul.
- He must be clean in his life. The absolutely necessity of it. The menace of inconsistency. The peril of prominence.
- He must be fit for his work. Spiritually, physically, mentally, and educationally.
Gibbs then goes into a chapter that involves the calling of the preacher. As I reflected on this particular chapter, I begin to have to recognize the fact that in my own preaching that I had left out the importance of a personal calling to the ministry. During that period of time, several messages that I preached dealt with the concept of the calling into the ministry. We must have young men, middle-aged men, and older men who are willing to accept the calling into the ministry.
The next three chapters, Gibbs spends on The Necessity of Preaching. When you read these chapters there is a noticeable priority that he places on preaching. You will not that by the headings given in the chapters:
- The God-ordained means of spreading the Gospel—Preaching!
- Preaching is the witness to the facts of the Gospel.
- Preaching is the means of generating faith in the hearer.
- Preaching is the means by which souls are regenerated.
- Preaching is the means by which the hearer is edified.
- Preaching is the solemn responsibility of all who are called and gifted.
- Preaching must reach the whole personality of the hearer.
One very provoking section in chapter seven where Gibbs is dealing with preaching, he speaks of the causes and tragedy of an unfulfilled ministry. He deals with both internal forces and external forces that work to cause an unfulfilled ministry. He notes the fear of man, slothfulness, selfishness, the plea of ‘no talent,’ and un-judged sin and worldliness of life. There are some following quotes from this section that I found very provoking:
Opening Remarks on this section—How sad it is when God has to write “failure” over a life that once showed great possibilities of fruitful service for Him! One thinks of Samson, Solomon, Demas and others who started well, but failed to run their course and fulfill God’s purpose in their lives.
The Fear of Man—Many preachers, in seeking to maintain their own reputation, popularity, and prestige, have lost the approval of their Lord and Master. A preacher should most emphatically not be a man-pleaser. It is possible for a speaker to “play to the gallery.”
Slothfulness—Preaching involves study, study means work, and with many this word is an unwelcome sound. The cost in time, energy and self-denial that preaching imposes causes many to shirk their responsibility. . . Hear the stirring words of that great warrior for God, “Be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord (1 Cor. 15:58).
Un-judged Sin and Worldliness of Life—Questionable habits and amusements have combined to hinder many a Christian from fulfilling the ministry they have received of the Lord. Where prayer and Bible study is neglected, confession of Christ avoided, the meetings for assembly fellowship unattended, and sin in the life allowed to remain un-confessed and un-judged, there can be no development of any gift for the Lord.
Chapter ten is worth the price of the book as Earnest Jolley would say. The first ten chapters all deal with the internal, spiritual, and heart matters of the preacher. Chapter Ten is entitled The Perils of the Preacher. Gibbs goes into detail on seven deadly perils that can entrap a man of God.
The next 250 + pages deal with the aspects of sermon construction and delivery. In chapter seventeen, Gibbs deals with the methods of delivery for a sermon. He spends time dealing with reading it, memorizing and then preaching it, and then he deals with preaching it off the cuff. Off the cuff is extemporaneous in form and only relies on bulleted points or an outline. He then spends several chapters on the different types of sermons—expository, topical, textual, historical incidents, and biographical.
He then turns to actual sermon construction beginning with working with titles, outlines, illustrations, and gathering material. I found the section on gathering material to be very enlightening but primarily had to do with the building of a personal library. You will also want to read the section on self-discipline (pp. 291-294).
He also writes about the importance of the public reading of Scripture. Along with this is another helpful section on public prayer.
This is another of the “best books on preaching” and I think it is worthy of your time.
Thanks for reading. . .
More on the way. . .