Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Roy Clements

By my own reckoning, I reckon I've preached about 50 times now. And on Sunday, I did something I'd never done before. I reworked someone else's sermon and preached it. Now I reworked it and reapplied it so it was clearly in my own style, and I was quite open about what I was doing.

In this case, the passage in question was Psalm 42-43, and the preacher whose sermon I reworked was Roy Clements. (Of course, he was largely reworking a sermon on the same passage by D.M. Lloyd-Jones.) I'd been doing work on the passage, and realised I couldn't do better than Roy's exegesis, which had really helped me in the past. And lots of people found the sermon helpful, just as I thought and prayed they would.

And this got me thinking a bit. Roy was an uncommonly gifted preacher - he was a Baptist, but when I was at Anglican theological college nearly 10 years after his fall from grace, three Anglican ordinands cited him as the best preacher they'd ever heard. But after he left his wife for another man, he fell massively out of favour overnight, and all his books stopped being printed. For a while he maintained a web presence as a gay evangelical Christian (which I checked on occasionally), but in the last few years, he seems to have dropped off the radar even more.

[For what it's worth, I think it was wrong of publishers to stop printing his books - the books themselves weren't changed by any later mistakes made by the man. And I think him leaving his wife for another woman would have been just as bad.]

God gives his people gifts, to be used for the building up of the church. And they aren't earned, they are gifts, though they can be improved by hard work and prayer. And God can use those gifts for the building up of his kingdom, whoever he gives them to.

But in terms of ministry, we need godliness. We need to watch ourselves and guard ourselves carefully. Because God doesn't need us - he can give our gifts to others, and he can use our gifts without us. And his gifts don't protect us from falling away.

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