Book Review: The Man of God: Volume 2, by Albert Martin
Albert N. Martin, Pastoral Theology, Volume 2: The Man of God: His Preaching and Teaching Labors. Trinity Pulpit Press, 2018. 651 pages.
Every preacher I know aspires to improve their preaching. Paul told Timothy, “Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress” (1 Tim. 4:15, emphasis mine). Every pastor must continue to read, learn, and sit under good preaching. I have benefited from many great preaching books such as Preaching and Preachers by Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Between Two Worlds by John Stott, Christ-Centered Preaching by Bryan Chappell, Preaching by John MacArthur, and Expositional Preaching by David Helm to name a few.
Another preaching book you should add to your library is Albert Martin’s second volume in his Pastoral Theology Trilogy, The Man of God: His Preaching and Teaching Labors. His first volume dealt with the Man of God’s calling and life in the pastoral office. His second volume deals with the Man of God’s preaching and teaching ministry in the pastoral office. The first section examines the nature and content of preaching, the second section deals with the form and components of preaching, and the third section explores the act of preaching.
THE CONTENT OF PREACHING
In this first section, Martin argues that “the proclamation, explanation, and application of scriptural truth in the power of the Holy Spirit must constitute the heart and soul of all our preaching” (4). In other words, God has given pastors the Scripture as the primary means for His saving and sanctifying purposes among his people.
A preacher is a herald, ambassador, and steward of the truth. The pulpit should not be a place where personal stories, experiences, fantasies, cultural commentaries, or philosophical musings dominate, but where Scripture is proclaimed, explained, and applied to a congregation. Martin uses Scripture and great preachers like John Broadus, Charles Spurgeon, J .C. Ryle, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and many others both to prove and exemplify that preaching must be driven by the word.
Preachers must also labor to make their sermons clear, organized, logical, unified, engaging, simple, and applicable. We labor over our sermons because we want to bring God glory, edify the saints, and see the lost converted. He adds, “Effective preaching is preaching which, in its choice of vocabulary, illustrations, analogies, and applications, makes heaven come down to earth and speaks to real people in the reality of their earthly lives” (137).
THE FORM OF PREACHING
Because Scripture is so precious to the life of a pastor, he must also labor to develop excellent sermons for effective preaching. Martin distinguishes three types of expository sermons: topical, textual, and consecutive. Whatever approach the preacher takes, he must explain and apply the Bible because “if the sermon does not open and apply the scriptures, it is not worthy to be called a sermon, no matter what kind of sermon it is supposed to be” (225).
The wise pastor will know which type of sermon to use in feeding his flock. First, topical sermons expound and apply a biblical doctrine, theme, or duty without limiting the exposition to one or several texts of Scripture (226). Second, in textual expository sermons “a specific verse, or a small group of verses, or perhaps a chapter, is expounded and applied without incorporating passages outside that text to compose a major element in the content of the sermon” (228). Finally, the consecutive expository sermon will work through a book or large portion of Scripture sequentially.
Each approach has its pros and cons. Martin gives freedom to the preacher to choose and warns against homiletical mysticism and homiletical legalism. The wise preacher who has a sober assessment of his own gifting and who knows his people will “have the liberty to use an arsenal of weapons and a variety of tools in the discharge of our pulpit duties” (229). Martin concludes his second section with practical instruction on introductions, the body, and conclusions of sermons.
THE ACT OF PREACHING
The final section considers the act of preaching. The preacher must understand his relationship with God, himself, his hearers, his notes, and his physical context if he is going to be an effective preacher. The “ultimate end which all the elements of preaching must serve is the glory of God and the good of men in their salvation and edification” (444). We must be conscious of our need for God as we speak on behalf of God as ambassadors of God. Because the preacher’s calling is so high and weighty, we must maintain self-control and self-forgetfulness as we seek to exalt Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit to our hearers. Martin gives helpful advice on the use of voice, dress, emotions, physical expressions, manuscripts, and physical context to ensure maximum edification for God’s people.
A BOOK TO IMPROVE YOUR PREACHING
Martin’s book on preaching is a goldmine of wisdom, insight, and useful nuts and bolts for preachers. It’s a book I plan on referring to on a regular basis to improve my own preaching. I would encourage you to do the same. Use this book to examine whether your preaching is thoroughly biblical, applicable, and effective to the people to whom you preach.