The Faithful Preacher, Book Review

The Faithful Preacher, Thabiti Anyabwile
(Crossway, 2007), pb., 191 pp.

I have not yet finished reading this book, but after reading the first sermon by Lemuel Haynes, I knew this is a keeper and one to commend to the readers of this blog.

In this book Anyabwile briefly introduces three pioneering African-American pastors and then gives us a selection of their sermons. The very first sermon in the book is an ordination sermon on Hebrews 13:17! This is a key text in my mind on pastoral ministry (hence the name of this blog), but I do not find it much discussed these days. This sermon on this text is incredible- searching, weighty, powerful- ingredients often missing but sorely needed in pastoral ministry today.

Appropriate to his text, Haynes expounds powerfully the need to fulfill our calling in view of the account we will one day give directly to God. As much as I talk about this verse, I desperately need exhortations like this sermon. Here are a few quotes:

The goal of preaching:

“It is the design of preaching to make things ready for the day of judgment . . . . We are fitting men for the Master’s use, preparing affairs for that decisive court.” (p. 29)

“When he studies his sermons, this will not be the inquiry, ‘How shall I form my discourse so as to please and gratify the humors of men and get their applause?’ but ‘How shall I preach so as to do honor to God and meet with the approbation of my Judge?’ This will be his daily request at the throne of grace. This will be ten thousand times better than the vain flattery of men. His discourse will not be calculated to gratify the carnal heart; rather he will not shun to declare the whole counsel of God.” (p. 32)

If we would heed this we would not be worried about giving a good performance and there would be no interest in downloading the sermons of others. I think much less time would be given to the frilly silliness so often seen and we would be in earnest to simply know what the text says and how to explain that to our people.

The importance of oversight:

“They who watch for souls as those who expect to give account will endeavor to know as much as they may the state of the souls committed to their charge, that they may be in a better capacity to do them good . . . . when they see souls taken by the enemy, they will exert themselves to deliver them from the snare of the devil.” (p. 33)

This aspect has been mentioned often here, but it is refreshing to hear yet one more faithful pastor from our past remind us that we must know our people and watch over them. The distant “preaching head” approach simply will not cut it.

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