The weekly proclamation of the Bible in the church can have a wearying effect on the preacher over time so that he can find himself needing to be refreshed and revived in his duties. These three books that I have chosen to highlight inspire the reader to be a faithful expositor. These are the kinds of books that you can’t read for very long and not feel the desire to step into a pulpit and preach your heart out. I give them to you in no particular order.
Between Two Worlds by John Stott (Amazon)
John Stott has a way with words that both informs and inspires. Listen how he describes the need to for the preacher to be immersed in the text he is preparing to preach:
“Sooner or later the time for more concentrated preparation arrives. What should the preacher do now? Read the text, re-read, re-read it, and read it again. Turn it over and over in your mind, like Mary the mother of Jesus who wondered at all things the shepherds had told her, pondering them in her heart (Luke 2:18-19). Probe your text, like a bee with a spring blossom, or like a hummingbird probing a hibiscus flower for its nectar. Worry at it like a dog with a bone. Suck it as a child sucks on an orange. Chew it as a cow chews the cud.”Between Two Worlds, p. 220
For me, the best part of the book is summarized in the title. Stott masterfully explains how the preacher’s job is to be the bridge between the world of the Bible and the modern world we live in. We do this through the faithful study, explanation, and application of the Bible. This concept is simple, but one that too many expositors fail to understand or accomplish. When this truth is grasped it will excite the man of God as he realizes that God is going to powerfully use His Word to minister to those that are gathered on Sunday to sit under his preaching.
Preaching: How to Preach Biblically by John MacArthur and the Faculty of The Master’s Seminary (Amazon)
This book was originally published under the title Rediscovering Expository Preaching, and it has had a massive impact upon the conservative evangelical church whether it knows it or not. Not only did many pastors read this book and become inspired to dig deeper in their preaching, but many men became convicted when they recognized that they were ill-equipped to carry out the ministry they believed they were called to do. The result was that many of them left their churches to pursue proper training in the necessary skills for preaching that they did not have. Many others read the book while still undecided about ministry and were drawn to go and get training to become an expository preacher.
When I was a seminary student several of my classmates were impacted by this book and pointed to it as the main reason they came to seminary. Years later as a professor, I was still encountering this as a somewhat common reason that men were influenced to be trained. The ripples of the impression that this book has had will only be fully known in eternity.
Because the book was written by several professors, each chapter is written from the point of view of the expertise of each man. The chapters introduced the skill set of each scholar but are presented with the pastoral warmth of seasoned men who have many years in the church as well as education.
The Supremacy of God in Preaching by John Piper (Amazon)
In this small book Piper demonstrates that truly powerful preaching is that which is done for the glory of God alone. This emphasis is a needed antidote in a narcisisstic age that is drawn toward ear-tickling preaching. Drawing on the lives of great preachers of the past and his own journey, John Piper shows that the only help that this world needs is for the man of God to faithfully point it to Christ.
While not truly a book on how to preach, this book aids the pastor who may find that over time his ministry and preaching has drifted toward the rocky shores of man-centered theology. Piper helps the preacher look into the ascended glory of God and see that his task is much more than filling Sunday mornings with a self-help speech for thirty minutes. True Christians hunger to hear from God and to see Christ exalted. God has ordained the act of preaching as the means by which their souls will find satisfaction.