I don't think I'd ever heard preaching until I heard Paul Blackham. I'd heard a thousand exhortations. I'd heard hundreds of expositions. I'd heard autobiographical apologies and inspirational tales and world-weary battle-plans and state-of-the-nation addresses but not preaching. Not a heralding of the living Christ.
And then I saw Paul Blackham climb into the All Souls, Langham Place pulpit. He was younger then than I am now, but he opened his mouth like a prophet of old and said "In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit..." Then something unprecedented happened. He preached as if he actually believed his introduction. He spoke as one speaking the very words of God (1 Peter 4:11). He didn't weary me with the debates of the commentators, he didn't show off his knowledge of the original languages, he didn't waste my time trying to appear culturally relevant, he just - amazing to say it - he just preached.
I'd never, ever, heard anything like it. And I rarely hear the like of it today.
Paul's preaching is declarative in tone, doctrinal in content, devotional in aim. In Old Testament or New, he is crystal clear that Christ is the point. His life, His work, His blood, His glory. This is the fire in his bones which he cannot hold in (Jeremiah 20:9).
I know that none of us are going to match his gifting - but can we please aim for these characteristics. Otherwise, really, why bother.
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