Last week I reviewed Steve Lawson’s first book in his Long Line of Godly Men series – Foundations of Grace. In addition to this larger work, he spins off a sub-series looking at various heroes of the faith and their unique contribution to our reformed Christian heritage. He begins with the Expository Genius of John Calvin. In the preface Lawson writes:
“To step into the pulpit is to enter onto holy ground. To stand behind an open Bible demands no trifling with sacred things. To be a spokesman for God requires utmost concern and care in handling and proclaiming the Word. Rightly does Scripture warn, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness” (James 3:1).
“But sad to say, we live in a generation that has compromised this sacred calling to preach. Exposition is being replaced with entertainment, preaching with performances, doctrine with drama, and theology with theatrics. Desperately does the modern-day church need to recover its way and return to a pulpit that is Bible-based, Christ-centered, and life-changing. God has always been pleased to honor His Word—especially His Word preached. The greatest seasons
of church history—those eras of widespread reformation and great awakening—have been those epochs in which God-fearing men took the inspired Word and unashamedly preached it in the power of the Holy Spirit. As the pulpit goes, so goes the church. Thus, only a reformed pulpit will ultimately lead to a reformed church. In this hour, pastors must see their pulpits again marked by sequential exposition, doctrinal clarity, and a sense of gravity regarding eternal matters. This, in my estimation, is the need of the hour.”
In response to that need, Steve Lawson offers a detailed investigation into the Expository Genius of John Calvin. In this work, Lawson highlights 32 distinctive characteristics of Calvin’s preaching and holds them up as examples for todays preachers to follow. He begins with a brief overview of Calvin’s life and then breaks down Calvin’s technique into 1) Approaching the Pulpit, 2) Preparing the Preacher, 3) Launching the Sermon, 4) Expounding the Text, 5) Crafting the Delivery, 6) Applying the Truth, and 7) Concluding the Exposition. Listing these seven elements here doesn’t do justice to the engaging writing style of Lawson. Far from a simple “how to” book that uses an historical figure for illustrative purposes, Lawson masterfully brings Calvin’s thundering pulpit to life in this short 142 page work.
I’d recommend this book to any preacher, even those who may not feel that they share Calvin’s theological convictions. In other words, you do not need to be a Calvinist to be inspired, encouraged, and learn from the Expository Genius of John Calvin.
Future books in Lawson’s series will delve into the ministries of other gifted preachers, such as Martin Luther, George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, and others. I eagerly await the forthcoming volumes.