In between these references, we see the Holy Spirit powerfully active: Christ is born; the Spirit is His precursor. Christ is baptized; the Spirit bears witness. Christ is tempted; the Spirit leads Him. Christ ascends; the Spirit takes His place. It is particularly in this final role that we, as preachers, need to be aware of His present role and availability.
In his must-read book for preachers, Preaching and Preachers, the late Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said authentic pulpit power is nothing less than “God giving power, and enabling the preacher, through the Spirit to do this work in a manner that lifts it up beyond the efforts and endeavors of man.” In short, when the Holy Spirit enters our pulpits, He does so only upon our invitation. After receiving the invitation, the Spirit proceeds to fire us up with supernatural ability. That and that alone is genuine preaching. Anything else is no different from a weekly civic club talk—mere play church!
Real church happens when the preacher gets serious about God coming among His people and doing what He alone can do. We, as preachers, become not much more than cheerleader witnesses to what happens when we gather for worship.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones spoke of Spirit-empowered preachers as possessed individuals who are taken hold of and look upon themselves with amazement. Such preaching is magic! It is power! It is life-transforming for preachers and their hearers. I speak from personal experience when I say that once we have experienced this power, we never will want to go back to what used to be.
It is more than mere rhetoric and clever clichés that too often are served from our pulpits. When it happens, the result will be, in Peter Marshall’s words, “riots and regenerations.” People will get past playing church and do serious business with God, and America may well see its third Great Awakening! Oh, God, give us preachers who are prepared to know no limits when they enter the throne of the Word of God in the power of God’s Spirit!
No amount of truth—no matter how well delivered, no matter how well-intended—that is delivered absent the power of the Holy Spirit can transform lives and turn around a nation run amok.
Preacher, make it your pledge that you never again will enter your pulpit alone. Determine that you will, regardless of the cost or consequences, be God’s servant on fire with God’s Spirit, and that, empowered by the Spirit, you will shine the light of your ministry on God’s only begotten Son. God Himself said through Zerubbabel that it is, “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts” (Zech. 4:6). Invite the Spirit to be the power behind your preaching throne!