The Banner of Truth conference happened this past week. During Ian Hamilton's lecture on John Owen's treaties on the Glory of Christ, he drops this amazing bombshell that every preacher of the Word needs to hear:
One of the constant cries from congregations is for their ministers to provide more application. Now, a sermon without application is hardly a sermon at all. Richard Baxter wrote in The Reformed Pastor, "it grieves me to the heart how so many sermons die for want of lively application." A sermon without application is barely, if at all, a sermon. But are we helping our people to understand that the exposition of the Lord Jesus Christ revealed in the scriptures is itself heartwarming, mind-expanding, life-transforming application? John Owen was absolutely persuaded of that. Listen to these words of Owen: "Let us live in the constant contemplation of the glory of Christ, and virtue will proceed from Him to repair all our decays, to renew a right spirit within us, and to cause us to abound in all duties of obedience." When we see people in our congregations struggling with obedience or drifting from obedience, the last thing we are to speak to them about is obedience! We need to speak to them about Christ! We need to bring them back to Christ! That's where the fundamental error lies. We drift from obedience because we have drifted from Jesus Christ and his glory. And so Owen continues, "when the mind is filled with thoughts of Christ and his glory, when the soul thereon cleaves unto him with intense affections, they will cast out, or not give admittance unto, those causes of spiritual weakness and indisposition. And," he concludes, "nothing will so much excite and encourage our souls here unto as a constant view of Christ and his Glory." That's the great application that we are to set before our people. This is what will most repair their decays. This is what will most excite them to obedience: beholding the glory of Christ set forth before us in the Holy Scriptures and ministered to us by his servants.
Listen to the whole lecture here.