Illuminated Preaching (Ministry and Mission) [eBook]
The Holy Spirit’s vital role in unveiling His Word, the Bible
All true expository preachers want to experience the illumination of the Scripture in their hearts when they study and preach. Sadly, today’s preaching culture promotes an imbalance in the discussion of the Spirit’s role in preaching at a time when so many preachers err on the sides either of mysticism or of pragmatism.
In this Bible-soaked study, Jeffrey Crotts defines and applies the seemingly forgotten doctrine of illumination. He shows that the Bible is clear that Spirit-filled illuminated preaching takes place in two parts: as the preacher studies and meditates upon his biblical text, resulting in personal convictions, and as he then conveys these truths to his hearers, trusting that the Spirit of God will likewise illumine their hearts.
With the inclusion of testimonies of men such as Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Owen, and Jonathan Edwards, this book provides a synthesized biblical theology of illumination, focusing on four main categories found in 2 Corinthians 4:1–6: Condemnation, Communication, Conversion, and Convictions.
Preachers who long for illumination during their personal study and preaching will be enriched as they read and apply this scholarly yet pastoral work on the priceless doctrine we call illumination.
Jeffrey Crotts was raised in a Christian family in Virginia Beach, Virginia. At the age of seventeen he became a Christian, and at eighteen sensed a call to preach. This led him to pursue pastoral training at Liberty University and The Master’s Seminary, as well as a variety of ministry internships. In 1994, he met Judith, a Biblical Counseling and English major at The Master’s College. They were married in 1997. They moved to Little Rock, Arkansas in 1998 when Jeffrey joined the pastoral staff of The Bible Church of Little Rock. He now ministers as senior pastor at Anchorage Grace Church in Alaska. They have been blessed with six children.
I’m thankful for Jeff Crott’s balanced and sharply-focused emphasis on the Holy Spirit’s illuminating ministry. Two popular misconceptions are afoot in the church today. One is the notion that the Holy Spirit is constantly giving fresh, extrabiblical revelation in the form of personal prophecies. The other is the idea that the Holy Spirit is totally silent. In reality, the Spirit of God is constantly active, always teaching the true church of Christ. He speaks to His people through the Scriptures, enlightening their hearts and minds to understand the truth revealed in the Bible – empowering us to believe and obey it. Illuminated Preaching highlights this role of the Holy Spirit in both the preacher’s preparation and the congregation’s reception of the Word. Here is a sound, biblical antidote to the shallow superficiality and silly pragmatism that have commandeered so many pulpits today.
—John MacArthur, Pastor-Teacher, Grace Community Church, Sun Valley, California
A commendable balance characterizes the author’s efforts and product. By biblically navigating the channel between the reefs of merely academic labors and the shoals of existential subjectivism, he allows the scriptural data to pilot his ship named Illumination to a safe harbor. Crott’s paradigmatic passage, 2 Corinthians 4:1-6, sets his compass as the shop passes applicationally from condemnation to communication to conversion and finally to convictions. His appendix alone is worth the fare of the book in that it takes his whole reservoir of scriptural data and classifies each passage using a range that spreads all the way from inferential to direct references to illumination. May this book rescue many contemporary preachers from theologically aberrant methods by the Spirit’s illumination of God’s words from His Word. May they come to understand where the power of true change comes from and be liberated from ultimately ineffectual tactics.
—George J. Zemek, Th. D, Academic Dean, The Expositors Seminary, Jupiter, Florida
Most conservative preachers are familiar to some degree with the doctrine of illumination and realize that in some way it is the ministry of the Holy Spirit. In this book, however, Crotts has made an extensive study of the doctrine particularly as it relates to the preacher’s primary responsibility—to preach the Word. Dividing the doctrine into four categories—condemnation, conversion, communication, and conviction—Crotts takes his reader along with him as he retraces his journey to his present understanding of the doctrine. He shows the importance of the doctrine not only as it relates to the entire process of preaching—on the part of the preacher in studying the text and communicating the text and on the part of the hearer in listening to the text which the Holy Spirit uses either in condemnation or conversion. In plain language, Crotts shows how the same sun that melts the butter also hardens the bricks. When the Word of God goes forth the Holy Spirit always sees to it that it accomplishes the purpose which God intended. This book is refreshing because it reminds the preacher that his success is measured not by the size of the crowd, the size of the offering, or the number of people that come forward but by the ministry of the Holy Spirit in illuminating the preacher, the sermonic process, and the hearers.
—Paul R. Fink, Th.D., Professor of Biblical Studies and Pastoral Ministry, Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA
Jeff Crotts reminds us all that the illumination of the Spirit is one of the most liberating and empowering elements of preaching—for pastor and congregant alike. This book, full of biblical insight, historical wisdom, and pastoral warmth, is for all of those clay jars who, week in and week out, proclaim the treasure of the gospel. Here’s a preaching manual that goes beneath the surface and speaks straight to the heart.
—Stephen J. Nichols, Research Professor of Christianity and Culture, Lancaster Bible College and Graduate School, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
How often have we as preachers longed for the Holy Spirit’s greater power in and through our preaching? (I for one know I have and do!) Additionally, what exactly is this so-called work of the Spirit in bringing the conviction of sin upon human hearts? Even further, how should we rightly conceive of mankind’s condemnation without such illumination by the Spirit? Further still, is genuine spiritual conversion even possible without the Holy Spirit’s initiative? These critically important questions—and more—are capably answered in Jeff Crotts’ book, Illuminated Preaching: The Holy Spirit’s Vital Role in Unveiling His Word, the Bible. Using 2 Corinthians 4:1-6 as a key starting point, Pastor Crotts then takes us through the entire biblical revelation, showing both explicitly and implicitly how God’s Word is to be rightly understood regarding this crucial doctrine of the Spirit’s ministry of illumination. If you want to learn how to best rely upon the Holy Spirit’s power, including how to trust the Bible to do its work through your own preaching and witnessing to others, then this book is for you! If you sincerely desire to see condemned men and women become convicted of their sin, delivered from eternal doom by the sheer force of the gospel, and then progressively transformed by none other than Jesus Christ, Jeff Crotts is quite prepared from this book to show you how.
—Lance Quinn, Pastor-Teacher, The Bible Church of Little Rock and Professor of Theology, The Expositors Seminary, Little Rock, Arkansas, USA
If, as Martin Luther correctly judged, the doctrine of justification is the standing article of the church, I would venture to say that the doctrine of illumination is the standing article of the preacher. Any preacher’s ministry stands or falls depending on how real this matter is to him. Therefore, we must thank God for this new and comprehensive treatment of this subject by Jeff Crotts. This truth will keep us from despair when there is hardly any fruit from our preaching, and it will also keep us from pride when God blesses us with abundant fruit. Jeff Crotts shows us that the Spirit’s illuminating work is vital because on it hangs issues of eternal life and eternal damnation. We cannot afford to be indifferent! I have no doubt that we can only become better preachers by reading this book. We will enter our pulpits as new men, knowing our utter dependence upon the Spirit of the living God and his illuminating work.
—Conrad Mbewe, Pastor, Kabwata Baptist Church, Lusaka, Zambia
Spiritual illumination is an absolute necessity for all who preach the Word. Apart from divine enlightenment, the Bible is a closed book, and its preachers are mere blind leaders of the blind. Sadly, countless ministers read, study, and proclaim God’s Word without understanding it. Their eyes remain closed to many of its most basic truths. If the Scripture is to be accurately perceived with pinpoint precision, God must elucidate their minds. Divine truth can only be discerned by divine light. The psalmist says, “Open my eyes that I may behold wonderful things from Your law” (119:18). These words must be the constant prayer of every man who steps into the pulpit. Jeffrey Crotts has done the church a wonderful service in preparing this book, Illuminated Preaching, which provides a constructive study on this vitally important subject. I am convinced you will find this book to be a valuable tool in gaining insight into the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit in preaching.
Dr. Steven J. Lawson, Senior Pastor, Christ Fellowship Baptist Church, Mobile, Alabama, USA