Lloyd-Jones is here preaching on 1 John 1:1-3, “[That] which we have seen and heard declare we unto you…”
The gospel is an announcement. We can put that negatively by saying that the gospel of Jesus Christ is not a speculation, nor a human thought or idea or philosophy. It is essentially different, and it must never be put into that category. That is the trouble, alas, with so many of us. We will persist in regarding it as an outlook, as something which results from the meditation and thought of man on the whole problem of life and living. That has been the real tragedy of the last century or so, when philosophy took the place of revelation and people said that the Bible is nothing after all but human thoughts, man’s ideas, man’s search after God–why should modern man equally not have a place in these matters? So we put forward our modern ideas.
But that is not the gospel! The whole position of the Apostles, John and the rest, is that they have something to delare, something to say. They have seen something, they are reporting it, and that something is so wonderful that John can scarcely contain himself… There is nothing uncertain about this message, it is a proclamation; there is an urge and an authority behind it.
In passing perhaps we should observe that it is the loss of this very note in the preaching of the Church, in this century in particular, that accounts for so much of the present state of the Church, and the present state of the world and of society. A man standing in a Christian pulpit has no business to say, ‘I suggest to you,’ or ‘Shall I put it to you,’ or ‘On the whole I think,’ or ‘I am almost persuaded,’ or the ‘The results of research and knowledge and speculation all seem to point in this direction.’ No! ‘These things we declare unto you.’ I know the old charge which has so often been brought up against the Church and her preachers is that we are dogmatic; but the preacher who is not dogmatic is not a preacher in the New Testament sense. We should be modest about our own opinions and careful as to how we voice our own speculations, but here, thank God, we are not in such a realm, we are not concerned about such things. What we do is not put forward a theory which commends itself to us as a possible explanation of the world and what we can do about it; the whole basis of the New Testament is that here is an announcement, a proclamation–those are New Testament words.
The gospel, according to the New Testament, is a herald; it is like a man with a trumpet who is calling people to listen. There is nothing tentative about what he has to say; something has been delivered unto him, and his business is to repeat it; it is not the business of the messenger, first and foremeost, to examine the credentials of the message, he is to deliver it. We are ambassadors, and the business of the ambassador is not to say to the foreign country what he thinks or believes; it is to deliver the message which has been delivered to him by his home government and the King he represents. That is the position of these New Testament preachers, and that is how John puts it here–‘I have an amazing thing to reveal,’ he says.
Now this applies not only to men who occupy Christian pulpits and have the privilege of doing so, it is something that clearly applies to all Christians. For as we discuss the world, and its present state and condition, with our fellow men and women, we are all of us individually to behave in the same way. We are to announce this, to proclaim it and not merely to put it forward as an idea amongst others. All the apostles did this. Read what the Apostle Paul tells the Corinthians about the way in which he came to them: ‘…not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God’ (1 Cor. 2:1). So the first thing we have to recapture at the present time is that, in the realm of the Church, we are doing something which is quite unique. It is unlike every other meeting. You have political meetings and people put forward their ideas; they certainly try to persuade us, and there are things they would have us believe. But there is not this finality; there are rival theories and possibilities. But in the realm of the Church we are out of all that, and we are concerned with a declaration and a proclamation.
It seems to me that it is beyond any doubt whatsoever that the present state of the Church is mainly, if not entirely, due to the fact that we ourselves have become uncertain of our message. Christian ministers have become uncertain about the miracles, uncertain about the supernatural, uncertain about the person of Christ. Hesitancy and doubt have come in, and at last this has become true of the common people everywhere, and there is a querying and a doubting. But the uncertainty began with the preaching, and once we cease to declare and to show, we have departed from the New Testament position. That then is the message for the Church herself at a time like this. She must cease to hesitate or to be nervous or uncertain; we are to stand by these things, and if we stand by them we need not consider the question of falling. The world may fall away from the Church, but let it do so, for she will have to listen again to the message; for the message is a proclamation.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Fellowship with God, p. 43-35