The Preaching of George Whitefield
Dr. Lawson did not get to George Whitefield before lunch. So before beginning Session 5, Dr. Lawson spent some time discussing the preaching of George Whitefield. Footnote: Dr. Lawson spent the entire time on George Whitefield.
The doctrines of grace catapulted Whitefield into preaching in a powerful way. Other men existed, Whitefield truly lived.
What can we learn from Whitefield’s preaching? Where did the power of Whitefield come from?
1. singular devotion to Jesus Christ – Whitefield studied the scriptures on his knees
2. uncompromising gospel – he rounded off no corners
a. read “The Conversion of Zacchaeus” by Whitefield. This can be found at http://www.biblebb.com/files/whitefield/GW035.htm
3. a passionate fervor – he preached as no one else was preaching at that time. “The church is asleep. Only a loud voice will awake it from its slumber.” He introduced a new manner of preaching.
4. transcendent theology – no preacher can be stronger than his doctrine
5. an evangelistic thrust – not content to just plant or till. Calvinism and evangelism are not incompatible.
6. an indomitable spirit – out to the highways and hedges
7. a supernatural empowering – the ability was not in Whitefield. He was a weak vessel.
8. self-effacing humility – God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.
9. The greatness of his godliness
God, would you raise up a George Whitefield one more time among us? And would we listen to him if you did?
Next year’s conference has been scheduled for September 27-28, 2010. Dr. R.C. Sproul and Dr. Steven Lawson will be the featured speakers next year. Early registration is $99.
Session 5 – The Preaching of the 19th Century (Dr. Steven Lawson)
Session 6 – Question and Answer Session
(Dr. Steve Lawson and Dr. Joel Beeke)
Tuesday afternoon at 3:30 PM was a question and answer session with Dr. Lawson and Dr. Beeke. Microphones were set up in the sanctuary for people to ask questions. This was after a song session which included a song I have never heard – “Jesus I My Cross Have Taken”, sung to the tune of “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”.
Jesus, I my cross have taken,
All to leave and follow Thee.
Destitute, despised, forsaken,
Thou from hence my all shall be.
Perish every fond ambition,
All I’ve sought or hoped or known.
Yet how rich is my condition!
God and heaven are still my own.
Let the world despise and leave me,
They have left my Savior, too.
Human hearts and looks deceive me;
Thou art not, like them, untrue.
O while Thou dost smile upon me,
God of wisdom, love, and might,
Foes may hate and friends disown me,
Show Thy face and all is bright.
Man may trouble and distress me,
’Twill but drive me to Thy breast.
Life with trials hard may press me;
Heaven will bring me sweeter rest.
Oh, ’tis not in grief to harm me
While Thy love is left to me;
Oh, ’twere not in joy to charm me,
Were that joy unmixed with Thee.
Go, then, earthly fame and treasure,
Come disaster, scorn and pain
In Thy service, pain is pleasure,
With Thy favor, loss is gain
I have called Thee Abba Father,
I have stayed my heart on Thee
Storms may howl, and clouds may gather;
All must work for good to me.
Soul, then know thy full salvation
Rise o’er sin and fear and care
Joy to find in every station,
Something still to do or bear.
Think what Spirit dwells within thee,
Think what Father’s smiles are thine,
Think that Jesus died to win thee,
Child of heaven, canst thou repine.
Haste thee on from grace to glory,
Armed by faith, and winged by prayer.
Heaven’s eternal days before thee,
God’s own hand shall guide us there.
Soon shall close thy earthly mission,
Soon shall pass thy pilgrim days,
Hope shall change to glad fruition,
Faith to sight, and prayer to praise.
The first question was in regards to the recoveries made by New Calvinism. What else needs to be recovered? And what are the consequences of these not being recovered? Dr. Beeke answered this question by starting with the praise of recovering the five ‘Solas’, actually six, adding “Sola Spiritus”, “by the Spirit alone”. First, we still lack Calvinist reformed worship. Our worship needs to catch up with our soteriology. Second, we need more emphasis on holiness of life – spending too much time on things with too little profit. Third, we do not pray like the Puritans and Reformers. Fourth, we need to engage people one-on-one. Fifth, we need to adopt proper confessions of faith.
The second question was in regards that the way forward is by looking back. How can we properly attack reading the Puritans? And how can we delve into the Puritans with limited time issues? Dr. Beeke answered this question. A huge library is not to be threatening. Start by filing by subject. Set aside time each day for just reading – something meaty and weighty. And always be reading a biography. Dr. Lawson added an answer as well. He said that we should be reading in order to teach what we read to others. Dr. Beeke’s book “Meet the Puritans” would be a great place to start.
The third question regarded the qualifications for deacons. What does the “husband of but one wife” mean in regards to far distant past divorce? Dr. Beeke answered this question. He said the command was made because of polygamy. But today, we need to make application in this in regards to the issue of divorce and the lifestyle of the divorced party. Reformers stood by the innocent party, that they should never suffer because of actions of the guilty party.
The fourth question regarded doing the work of the evangelist and what the church needs to do today. Are we doing a good job? What should we be doing? Dr. Lawson answered this question. The gospels do not present a canned approach to evangelism. We need people to be acquainted with the gospel and we need people who are aware of whom they are talking to. We also need to do the work of the evangelist in our own congregations.