A Threefold Cord: The Three Strands Fully Braided Together

Acts 20:27; Ecclesiastes 4:12
       I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.
       A threefold cord is not quickly broken.

ROWLAND HILL (1744-1833): True religion is doctrinal, experimental, and practical…If therefore, if we would be partakers of the religion of Jesus, all three must be united—we must not separate them.

J. GOODE: (circa 1798): In the members of our flock, there should be Sight, Feeling, and Obedience; and to produce these, all three―Doctrinal, Experimental, and Practical preaching―must be combined in their proper proportion.

THOMAS SCOTT (1747-1821): There is a defect when any one [kind of preaching]―Doctrinal, Experimental, or Practical―preponderates…There is in Ministers sometimes a sort of spiritual self-indulgence.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): The question of balance is all-important…Nineteen forty-nine I think was a real turning point [for me]. That is when I got my true balance. I had been becoming too intellectual, too doctrinal and theological, because when I came to London [in 1938] I suddenly found I was the teacher, the theologian, and it tended to make me lose my balance.

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): When quite a youth, and first went to London [in 1788], and was all anxiety to hear the preachers of the famed metropolis, I was told by a friend, that if I wished to hear a good doctrinal sermon, I must hear Mr.———;if an experimental, I must hear Mr.———; and if a practical, I must hear Mr.———. And I well remember simply asking, “But is there no minister here who preaches all these? I should rather hear him.”

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): It is an old and trite saying that the ministers of the gospel may be divided into three kinds—the doctrinal, the experimental, and the practical. The saying is so often repeated that very few would contradict it. But it betrays at once, if it be true, the absence and lack of a something essentially necessary for the church’s success. Where is the preacher of Christ out of these? I propound this, that if a man be found a preacher of Christ, he is doctrinal, experimental, and practical.

JOHN VENN (1759-1813): What is it to preach Christ?

ANDREW FULLER (1754-1815): The doctrine we teach must be that of Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

ROWLAND HILL: Christ crucified may be said to be the Alpha and Omega of all the Bible.

JOSIAH PRATT (1768-1844): What is it to preach Christ? It is to make Christ the subject of our preaching. And this, in general, includes the whole sum of the Gospel truths respecting man’s salvation by Christ. “We preach Christ Jesus the Lord,” says the Apostle, 2 Corinthians 4:5.

C. H. SPURGEON: If he preaches Christ’s Person, he must preach doctrine. If I preach Christ I must preach Him as the covenant head of His people, and how far am I then from the doctrine of election? If I preach Christ I must preach the efficacy of His blood, and how far am I removed then from the great doctrine of an effectual atonement? If I preach Christ I must preach the love of His heart, and how can I deny the final perseverance of the saints? If I preach the Lord Jesus as the great Head and King, how far am I removed from divine Sovereignty? Must I not, if I preach Christ personally, preach His doctrines? I believe they are nothing but the natural outgrowth of that great root thought, or root substance rather, the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: We cannot fail, once more, to be impressed by the wonderful balance of scriptural teaching―its amazing perfection. That is why I am never tired of pointing out that a detailed, microscopic study of any one section of Scripture is generally much more profitable than a telescopic view of the whole Bible; because if you make a thorough study of any one section, you will find that you will meet all the great doctrines sooner or later.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): As we grow older, we feel the great need of a deeper experimental acquaintance with God, and so of the Holy Spirit’s applying His word in power to our hearts. More and more we are learning that there is a vast difference between a theoretical knowledge of the truth and the inward experience of it.

JOSIAH PRATT: What is experience? The operation of truths, by grace, on our understanding, will, and affections.

C. H. SPURGEON: And what better experience can you preach than in preaching Christ? Would you preach the sufferings of the saints, preach His agony and bloody sweat, His cross and passion; for the true sufferings of the saints are in fellowship with Him. If you would preach their joys, preach His resurrection, His ascension, and His advent; you are never far from the joys of the saints when you are near to the joys of Christ; for did not He say, “My joy shall be in them that their joy may be full?”

WILLIAM JAY: “We joy in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement,” Romans 5:11.

JOHN FLAVEL (1630-1691): Now this experience we have of the power of religion in our souls is that only which fixes a man’s spirit in the ways of godliness.

ROWLAND HILL: Christ crucified is the wisdom of God, and the power of God to all that believe. The knowledge of Christ crucified will and must lead us into those paths of Divine obedience, whereby “wisdom shall be justified of all her children;” that by a consistency and uprightness of behaviour in every social and relative situation in life, the world may be constrained to cry, “What hath God wrought!”

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): Doctrine is the trunk [of the tree], experience the branches, practice—the fruit.

C. H. SPURGEON: And what better practice can be preached than preaching Christ? Of every virtue He is the pattern; of the perfection of human character He is the very mirror; of everything that is holy and of good report, He is the abiding incarnation. He cannot fail, then, to be a good doctrinal, experimental, practical preacher, who preaches Christ. Did you ever know a congregation grow less spiritual by a minister preaching Christ?

WILLIAM JAY: Religion is indeed a practical thing; but it is also experimental. It does include doctrinal truths, but, in the Christian, these become principles. They descend from the head into the heart; and there grace reigns through righteousness unto everlasting life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

ANDREW FULLER: Woe unto us, if we shun to declare any part of the counsel of God! He that is afraid or ashamed to preach the whole of the gospel, in all its implications and bearings, let him stand aside.


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