This book is one of many in the Long Line of Godly Men Profile series. This book is a short read but Lawson manages to pack in exceptional detail about what made Calvin’s preaching unique and robust. R. Kent Hughes sums up the books audience when he says, “It must be read for all who aspire to preach the word.” Lawson mentions that the goal of the book and series is to “raise the bar for a new generation of expositors. If you are a preacher or teacher, may you be challenged to a higher standard in your handling of the Word. If you are a supporter of one called to this ministry, may you know how best to pray.“
Lawson focuses his book on Calvin’s pastoral approach to the Word of God. Calvin preached the Word expositorily and is known to be the greatest Biblical commentator of all time. Although Calvin was imprisoned, his life threatened, and was an invalid in the latter parts of his life, this did not stop Calvin from preaching. There were even times we was brought into church on a stretcher to preach. Such devotion!
The authority of the Bible captivated Calvin so deeply he treated it his duty to preach verse by verse through the entire Bible. Calvin was so passionate about the glory of God that he wanted his listener to “behold and adore His majesty.” What is fascinating to me is the amount of preaching done by Calvin. He sometimes preached ten sermons during the week and there has been estimated of 4,000 sermons preached by Calvin–not including his Institutes.
Lawson goes through 32 different characteristics of Calvins preaching. At the end of most chapters, Lawson exhorts his readers. He applies what quality of Calvin should be instilled and cultivated in one whose aim it is to preach. An example of an exhortation from Lawson is this: “May you be one who leaves the lowlands of trivial thoughts about God behind. A low view of God leads only to mediocrity. But a high view of God inspires holiness and a resolute spirit. May you ascend to the heights of the mountaintop and behold, as Calvin did, the breathtaking glory of God.”
Lawson clearly communicates Calvin’s love for the Lord and his love for the Word of God. Calvin’s personal seal was an emblem of a pair of human hands holding out a heart to God with an inscription translated, “My heart I give to thee, O Lord, promptly and sincerely.” And Calvin has also been recorded to say, “We owe to the Scripture same reverence which we owe to God because it has proceeded from Him alone, and has nothing of man mixed with it.” While Calvin was brilliant intellectually and expositorily, he also spoke in a way that the lay person could understand. “His words were simple and understandable…and he mastered it.”
As Lawson told his readers in the beginning of his book I will echo in that I recommend this book for preachers, teachers, and supporters of those preaching and teaching so you will know how to pray. I have been blessed by reading this book and I hope you will be as well.