Truly great preachers have a close personal walk with the Lord; some might even be called mystics.
Some had this walk from childhood; some turned to the Lord in a sudden and dramatic conversion. Others were changed later in life by a “deeper experience.”
Note: The following article is the 10th in a series on “Characteristics
of Great Preachers.” The ongoing series was commissioned by the Louisiana
Baptist Message from Austin Tucker of Shreveport, a former Louisiana Baptist
pastor who now teaches and writes on religious subjects, He also is a frequent
pulpit guest in churches and is a member of the Louisiana Baptist Convention
Austin B. Tucker, Freelance writer
Truly great preachers have a close personal walk with the Lord; some might
even be called mystics.
Some had this walk from childhood; some turned to the Lord in a sudden and
dramatic conversion. Others were changed later in life by a “deeper experience.”
Augustine (A.D. 354-430) was one who turned to the Lord in a dramatic conversion.
Before that, he led a wild life that included a long-term affair with a mistress
who bore him a son.
But he came under deep conviction. In his “Confessions,” he told
of one day hearing a childs voice over the garden wall saying, ”
Pick it up, read it; pick it up, read it.” He could think of only one book
that he needed to read. Finding a Bible, he opened it and soon came to forsake
all for Christ.
Shortly after his conversion, he saw his former lover coming toward him on
the street. He turned and ran away. She called after him: “Augustine, It
Without stopping, he called back over his shoulder, “I know it is you,
but I am no longer the same Augustine!”
John Tauler ( 1300-1361) was ordained at age 35, but years later, a layman
brought heavy conviction on him, saying: “You must die, Dr. Tauler! Before
you can do your greatest work, … you must die to yourself, your gifts, your
popularity, and even your own goodness.”
As a result, Tauler quit preaching for two years. When he returned to the pulpit,
it was with a power and zeal to exalt Christ. His writings were a strong influence
on many, including Martin Luther.
John Bunyans (1628-1688) adult conversion experience is well known to
many. He was a traveling tinker, making and selling pots and pans. However,
one day, he overheard three women sitting on their respective door stoops, talking
about the joys of knowing Christ.
Bunyan then went through a long incubation of conviction on the way to conversion.
At that time, he could not read or write. Before he finished his pilgrimage,
he wrote 100 books. His “Pilgrims Progress” is still counted
as one of the greatest books in English literature.
Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) was reared by parents and grandparents who were
devout Congregationalists and ministers. At age 10, he wrote a tract on “The
Nature of the Soul.”
Then, in the year he graduated from Yale at age seventeen, he was reading the
Bible one day when suddenly he became aware of the presence of God. He was captured
then and there with the thought of the union of the soul with God. That experience
became the defining moment of his life and ministry.
Today, Edwards probably is remembered most for his famous sermon “Sinners
in the Hands of an Angry God.” However, it also should be remembered that
he was mightily used of God in the Great Awakening in colonial America.
F. B. Meyer (1847-1929), was a British Baptist greatly used of God in the Keswick
movement, as well as in notable pastorates. He confesses that it was many years
after he took Christ as savior and several years after he entered the ministry
that he took Christ as his judge, lawgiver and king.
He said, “It was a very memorable night in my life when I knelt before
Christ and gave myself definitely to Him, and committed the keys of my heart
and life to His hands, … and though I had no joy, no emotion, no ecstacy,
I had a blessed feeling in my heart that I had but one Lord, one will, one purpose
in all my life and for all coming time … – Jesus, … for whom henceforth
my life was to be spent.”