Would you like your children saved? Would you like them to be in heaven when you get there? We all do. But how does that happen? What’s the process? Well, Romans 10 bears out that God has made the preaching of the Word, especially, the effectual means of conversion. On April 15, 2015, we were blessed to have Pastor Al Martin, a veteran preacher, join us on the show to discuss preaching and our children.
Kevin: Pastor Martin, I’d like to talk with you about preaching, particularly, in the church services. How important do you think it is that our children be raised under the preaching of God’s Word?
Pastor Al Martin: Earlier you made a comment that immediately triggered in my mind the cogent scriptural truth that God has assigned not to reading the Word, but to preaching the Word: a unique function in calling out His elect. The voice of Christ comes in a unique way through preaching. Kevin: How can a family with young children get the most out of the message? Some people have the impression that a six, seven, or eight-year-old isn't going to connect with the sermon.
Pastor Al Martin: Well, I can share how we sought to train our people at Trinity Baptist Church. Many of our families jump-started their kids by teaching them their alphabet very young so that they were readers, many of them, by the time they were five or six years of age. This way, they could be trained to take notes, although minimal. Nonetheless, the preacher, if he’s worth his weight in salt, is going to have a clear structure that they can understand. Then, we encouraged the people to discuss with the kids what they learned over the mid-day meal on the Lord’s day, so that in the minds of the children, if they weren’t’t paying attention, there would be a reckoning at lunch time. That simple framework has been very effectual in giving children the sense that there is something very special about preaching.
Kevin: I’m guessing fathers and mothers can do a lot to be good examples to their children in engaging the preached word as well?
Pastor Al Martin: Definitely. Children will follow in the footprints we leave. Our full engagement and refusal to be distracted sets an example so that they understand that this is serious business.
Kevin: Pastor Martin, what are the basic elements of good preaching?
Pastor Al Martin: Biblical preaching must stand up to the standard of key texts like 2 Timothy 2:15: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” It’s foundational to good preaching that, when people hear it, they don’t sit there scratching their heads and saying, “How did he ever get that out of the text?! I wouldn’t’t get that out of the text in a hundred years!” True biblical exposition should cause those listening carefully and engaging the Word to say to themselves, “You dummy! Why didn’t you see that?!” Our preaching must also answer the question, “So what?” This is because the Word must be applied. This is not an addendum but the essence of biblical preaching, according to 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” This occurs in our application.
Kevin: Are there certain preachers who have given you good instruction and good patterns, whether it was previous centuries, or the 1940s, 50s, or 60s as your were cutting your teeth in the ministry?
Pastor Al Martin: I was not exposed to real preaching until I went off to college, where occasionally some excellent preachers would come to the Christian colleges that I attended. However, as I became a Christian, I also became a reader. A.W. Tozer’s “Divine Conquest” fell into my hands. It had a profound effect on me. Then, as I became aware of our evangelical heritage, I began to read some of the men whose preaching ministries were greatly owned of God. Men such as those Ryle highlights in his little book on 18th century Christian leaders: Howard Harris, Whitefield, the Wesleys, Daniel Roland, et al. Ryle’s analysis of what made them preachers had a profound effect on me. I was also privileged to hear a man who had a real impact in those days via ministry by radio and also in the churches where he preached, Donald Barnhouse. He became a model, for many men, of expository preaching. Then, of course, there are men who have long since gone to be with the Lord but have continued to exert a profound influence on me. At the head of that list is John Owen. A number of his volumes, some of which I’ve read four of five times, have put a very salutary stamp on me.
Kevin: One of your most memorable series you preached, in my mind, was the parable of the sower. As you look back at your ministry and how people received your preaching, can you see where there was wayside, stony ground, thorny ground, and good ground?
Pastor Al Martin: Definitely. In fact, it was one of the parables that kept me going. People would ask me, “Pastor Martin, there are people coming, you know them, they’ve been coming for years, and they’re still not converted; how in the world can you be patient with them and keep on lovingly entreating, encouraging, urging, inviting, and giving them the free offer?” I said, “It’s because, if God has His heart set on bringing them, any given Lord’s Day may be the day when God is going to draw them in.” With the confidence in the absolute sovereignty of God and the reality of His sovereign, electing grace, you can preach with hope, every Lord’s day after Lord’s day, never knowing what God is going to do to turn a heart into good soil that will embrace the Word and bring forth fruit thirty, sixty, and hundredfold.
This interview originally aired on Generations Radio on April 15, 2015.