The lasting power of Reformed Experiential Preaching: Joel R. Beeke


Favourite books need to be re-read and re-read.  One of my top re-reads is Puritan Reformed Spirituality by Joel R. Beeke.  In this collection of essays, something which makes this an easy re-read, Beeke creates a wonderful blend of biography, history, theology and applied, practical spirituality.  The closing chapter is a must read for all biblical preachers and teachers; and if you don’t buy the book (click the image of the cover to go to the Book Depository – £10.10 with free worldwide delivery), then the essay is available as a free download from ebookbrowse: The lasting power of Reformed Experiential Preaching: Joel R. Beeke.

In this essay, Beeke defines biblical experimental preaching and its necessity before turning to the characteristics of this form of preaching.  The essay ends by considering the life of the preacher and the disciplines and means by which the preacher’s character can match the message.

Beeke defines his subject like this:

Experimental preaching is discriminatory preaching. It clearly defines the difference between a Christian and nonChristian, opening the kingdom of heaven to one and shutting it against the other. Discriminatory preaching offers the forgiveness of sins and eternal life to all who by a true faith embrace Christ as Savior and Lord, but it also proclaims the wrath of God and His eternal condemnation upon those who are unbelieving, unrepentant, and unconverted. Such preaching teaches that unless our religion is experiential, we will perish, not because experience itself saves, but because the Christ who saves sinners must be experienced personally as the foundation upon which the house of our eternal hope is built (Matt. 7:22-27; 1 Cor. 1:30; 2:2).

Experimental preaching is applicatory. It applies the text to every aspect of a listener’s life, promoting a religion that is truly a power and not mere form (2 Tim. 3:5). Robert Burns defined such religion as “Christianity brought home to men’s business and bosoms” and said the principle on which it rests is “that Christianity should not only be known, and understood, and believed, but also felt, and enjoyed, and practically applied.”

Experiential preaching, then, teaches that the Christian faith must be experienced, tasted, and lived through the saving power of the Holy Spirit. It stresses the knowledge of scriptural truth “which is able to make us wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15).

We can’t preach like that without being rooted in Christ, both theologically and experientially, and the rest of the chapter outlines the means by which we do this.  I cannot commend this book (or chapter) highly enough and hope this post encourages readers to get Beeke’s work.

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