One more story from Preaching and Preachers.Lloyd-Jones was given the opportunity to preach at a college chapel in the University of Oxford, and the wife of the Principal came rushing up to him afterwards. Here is the exchange they shared:
“Do you know, this is the most remarkable thing I have I have ever known in this chapel.”
I said, “What do you mean?”
“Well,” she said, “do you know that you are literally the first man I have ever heard in this chapel who has preached to us as if we were sinners.” She added, “All the preachers who come here, because it is a college chapel at Oxford, have obviously been taking exceptional pains to prepare learned, intellectual sermons, thinking we are all great intellects. . . We have listened to these essays and our souls are left dry. They do not seem to understand that though we live in Oxford, we are nevertheless sinners.” (Preaching and Preachers, 126)
After years studying Scripture and simply observing my own astonishingly wicked heart, I have a robust doctrine of sin. I know that I have no hope outside of whatever God will mercifully give to me in the Gospel. However, there are times in the pulpit when Satan discourages me from preaching this way. He can work on me to the point that I am ashamed of what I am saying, ready to shrink back, even to apologize for proclaiming the total corruption of man before a holy God. This is wickedness, and this woman’s words call me back to the truth, because she makes the confession of every true child of God: preach to us like we are sinners! Remind us of our helplessness and our desperate need for mercy, and the riches of God’s grace he has lavished on us in Christ! Do not worry about entertaining us or intellectually stimulating us or pleasing us or boosting our self image or impressing us – – preach to us like we are sinners!
Away with Satan’s lies and the cowardice of my own flesh! Let us preach as a sinner to sinners, dwelling long on our own wickedness, that the grace of God in Christ might be magnified. Anything less is simply an essay that leaves the soul dry.