Called to Preach – Steven J. Lawson

Steven J. Lawson, Called to Preach (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2022), 203 pp.

Etched into the fabric of the cosmos is a special call. This call is the highest responsibility that any man will ever receive. This is the call to preach God’s Word. In his most recent book, Called to Preach: Fulfilling the High Calling of Expository Preaching, Dr. Steven J. Lawson invites readers on a journey where they will discover this sacred task.

Lawson raises the stakes in the very first sentence: “In every generation, the church of Jesus Christ rises or falls with its pulpit.” This theme explodes throughout the book as the author unveils the supreme importance of preaching.

Lawson argues, “To exposit the word is the most strategic assignment ever entrusted to any person.” As such, he unpacks several identifying benchmarks that help aspiring preachers discern whether they are called to the supreme task of preaching.

The author explores the mandate of preaching by pointing preachers to 2 Timothy 4:1-5. The first two verses set the stage for what follows:

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. (2 Timothy 4:1–2, ESV)

The nine imperatives in 2 Timothy 4:1-5 are expounded upon as preachers are encouraged to obey every aspect of the preaching mandate. “This kind of preaching commanded by Paul,” writes Lawson, “must be recovered and restored to the contemporary pulpit.”

Preachers are admonished to exalt the Lord in their pulpit ministries. Lawson adds, “Our greatest subject in the pulpit is always God. We must preach the glory of God first and foremost, before we declare anything else, and prioritize God for who He is … If our preaching is to be powerful, we must be preoccupied with the declaration of God.”

The remainder of the book is practical in nature. The author helps preachers gain traction in the study and offers a wealth of help in crafting a sermon manuscript. Once the study is complete and the manuscript is drafted, readers are offered counsel in delivering the message. Lawson urges pastors to preach with humility, authority, clarity, simplicity, intensity, urgency, and with accuracy.

Called to Preach is a veritable treasure trove for preachers. As one who looks to Steven Lawson as the most influential living preacher in my life, this book is not only a welcome addition to my library; it is a huge encouragement to keep preaching. Such a charge means that every preacher must equip the saints for the work of the ministry; he must call sinners to turn from their sin and turn to Christ; he must “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:1–2, ESV).

Called to Preach should be required reading for every preacher – from the first year Seminarian to the seasoned shepherd. Oh, that the Lord would raise up men of God who dig into this fine book and execute the biblical principles that Dr. Lawson presents.

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