QUALITY PREACHERS: (Those that stirred the Hebrides Revivals)
Revivals were stirred up by quality preaches, “possessed by God” in His grip as a weapon to slay unbelief.
John Wesley’s first questions that he asked about his lay preachers were,
- Is anybody convicted by their preaching?
- Is anybody made mad by their preaching?
- If the answer to both of these was in the negative, the preacher was removed.
What did these god-men preach:
- The greatness and glory of God,
- The holiness of God,
- The Law of God, especially the unchanging obligations of keeping it. Sin is Sin!
- The sinfulness of all people, especially the deceitfulness of the human heart.
- The certain condemnation of alI lawbreakers, and the impossibility of salvation by self-righteousness.
- The reality of heaven and hell.
- The death of Christ on the cross as the only sacrifice for sin, and the only hope of salvation.
- The necessity of regeneration as a supernatural work of God.
- The wonder of the grace of God in Christ.
- The true repentance and faith needed by all.
- The holiness and righteousness that has to be displayed as evidence of saving faith.
- The sufficiency of Christ for time and for eternity.
John Wesley. On one occasion, “when he preached, the crowd was melted and subdued until it resembled a routed army, shaken with fear and broken with emotion, men and women falling to the ground in a passion of distress….. There was something in his discourse, a note in his voice, a flash in his eye that thrilled the crowd with awe, – awe that often deepened into dread. The word in the speaker was one of perfect calmness, but it was the calm of power, of certainty, of authority which ran back into the spiritual world.”
J.C. Ryle, writing in 1868, said, “In my judgment, we have among us neither the men nor the doctrines of the days gone by… Once let the evangelical ministry return to the ways of the 18th century, and I firmly believe we should have as much success as before.”
What qualities, revival preachers should have today have?
- They must have a deep personal experience of the grace of God in Christ.
- They must be humble, and always make sure that God gets all the glory for everything in them and everything done through them.
- They must accept the Bible as the Word of God. Unless the Bible is believed in, the Holy Spirit cannot use His word as a sword.
- They must know the Bible really well, be able to quote much of it, and have the deepest grasp of the truths of the gospel, being fully assured of their relevance.
- They must have a deep conviction that what they are preaching is God’s truth, and everybody needs it, as it is a matter of life and death. In the Lewis Awakening, the burden of Duncan Campbell’ s messages was the severity of God in judgment, the glories of heaven, and the terrible reality of doomed souls in a burning hell. “Listen, you preachers of the gospel,” he wrote, “I am convinced that we have to get back to this emphasis. We have been soft pedelling far too long, and the soul destroying doctrine of universalism is eating at the vital part of our message.”
- They need to live in the light of eternity, and to be so taken up with the glory of God and the lifting up of Christ, that they make the things of earth fade into insignificance.
- They must have a creative imagination, to be able to paint wonderfully descriptive pictures in words, and make the things of eternity real and more important than anything else.
- Their words should be like fire, and like a hammer that breaks the rocks (Jer. 23:29), like a sharpened sword or a polished arrow, (Is.49:2) and like a threshing sledge with sharp teeth.(Is.41 :15)
- They must have the power of persuasion, the ability to present arguments with overwhelming logic by the Spirit of God.
- They must speak directly at people, and use the word “you”. They must clearly speak against sin, and be specific, and name the sins.
- They must have real depth of feeling, so that they feel the truths of God, and preach from the heart. Without this, the preacher cannot reach the hearts of his hearers.
- They must preach with tears, especially when preaching about hell. The passion and the urgency must be felt before they can be communicated.
- The heart of God seen in Gethsemane must be at the center of their lives.
- They must be full of the Holy Spirit, and preach with His anointing and passion.
- They must have a single aim; the salvation of people and the glory of God,
- They must believe that because they are declaring the Word of God, and preaching the gospel of His grace, by the power of His Spirit, that God will confirm it as His work.
- They must live holy lives before the world. Without this, everything will count for nothing
- They must be men of prayer:
- Like George Whitefield, but they need to remember that he would often spend entire nights crying out to God for souls.
- Jonathan Edwards, all preachers would love to see people reacting to their sermons, but they should note that he spent days and nights crying out to God in prayer before the first outpouring of the Spirit in Northampton, Massachusetts.
- The sermons of Daniel Rowland were the results of protracted wrestlings with God.
- The floor of John Elias’ study was wet with his tears.
- Henry Rees said that most preachers do not realize the thousandth part of the influence that praying has on preaching.
We need preachers who will scorn the praise and the criticism of others, who will lift up the standard of the cross, and shake the kingdom of hell.