How to Captivate and Transform

by Ted Cockle

The Holy Bible

What makes great teachers? What makes a message so captivating that we cannot stop reading or listening, and cannot help but be changed on the spot?

I’ve been enjoying some time with Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones the past few mornings and have found his teaching to be captivating in just such a way. As I read, I thought to myself, “What about it makes it so great?” That’s when I found this:

“There is nothing more important in the Christian life than the way in which we approach the Bible, and the way in which we read it. It is our textbook, it is our only source, it is our only authority. We know nothing about God and about the Christian life in a true sense apart from the Bible. We can draw various deductions from nature (and possibly from various mystical experiences) by which we can arrive at a belief in a supreme Creator. But I think it is agreed by most Christians, and it has been traditional throughout the long history of the Church, that we have no authority save this Book. We cannot rely solely upon subjective experiences because there are evil spirits as well as good spirits; there are counterfeit experiences. Here, in the Bible, is our sole authority.”

—D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, Eerdmans, 1976

There is nothing that captivates and transforms more than God himself as he reveals himself to us, specifically in Scripture. That is why messages laced with his Word draw us in. A message captivates and transforms when it is deeply rooted in a high view of Scripture. 

This is something Dr. Lloyd-Jones clearly understood—even his argument for the necessity of a high view of Scripture is based on Scripture! His thought above calls Psalm 19 to mind: the “heavens declare the glory of God” daily pouring out speech (v 1-2), and yet it’s the perfect law of the Lord (the Word of God to Moses) that does the “reviving [of] the soul” (v. 7). We know there is “a supreme being” without Scripture, but we can’t have a saving knowledge apart from it.

So as you teach, write, or otherwise convey messages, use God’s words, not your own. Use Scripture’s themes, not your own. See the text as relevant, don’t seek to make it relevant. In other words, preach the word!

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