The Gift of Utterance & its Effects

Colossians 4:2, 3; Ephesians 6:19

Continue in prayer, and watch in the same, with thanksgiving; withal praying for also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ.

And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Observe, Paul had a great command of language; they called him Mercury, because he was the chief speaker, Acts 14:12, and yet he would have his friends ask of God the gift of utterance for him. He was a man of great courage, and often signalized himself for it; yet he would have them pray that God would give him boldness. The chief speakers need prayer, that God would give them a “door” of utterance―to this there is a further gift requisite, even the gift of utterance.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): Utterance; the word may be translated, “in everything,” or, “in all speech.”

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): But we come to a more particular inquiry into these words, what the apostle means by ‘utterance,’ which he desires may be given him. When the apostle desires “utterance” to be given him, he may mean that he may have a word given him to preach—according to that which Christ promiseth, Matthew 10:19: “It shall be given you in that hour what he shall speak.”

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): There you see this great idea of prophesying comes in—this word from God. Now, this brings us a little bit nearer still perhaps to this whole idea of preaching. Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying that a man has a revelation from God in the sense of some new truth—I’m not saying that. But to me, when a man is truly preaching, he has been given the message.

ROWLAND HILL (1744-1833): Heavenly wisdom creates heavenly utterance.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Then I would add to that “the gift of speech.”

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): If a man be called to preach, he will be endowed with a degree of speaking ability, which he will cultivate and increase. If the gift of utterance be not there in a measure at the first, it is not likely that it will ever be developed.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): Preaching is a gift. It cannot be learned by industry and imitation only, as a man may learn to make a chair or a table: it comes from above.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: So if the candidate has not got the gift of speech, whatever else he may have, he is not going to make a preacher. He may be a great theologian, he can be an excellent man at giving private advice and counselling, and many other things, but by basic definition, if a man has not got the gift of speech he cannot be a preacher.

ROWLAND HILL: There is something in preaching the Gospel with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven I long to get at. If we deal with Divine realities, we ought to feel them such, and then the people will in general feel with us, and acknowledge the power that does wonders on the heart.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: I think this is an absolutely vital element in true preaching.  A man cannot preach in cold blood—it’s impossible! He can offer a sermon, he read an essay, he can recite an essay, he can give a Bible lecture, but you can’t preach in cold blood. The man is taken up! He’s in this realm of the Spirit, and God is giving a message through this man to the people. It isn’t an inspired utterance in the sense that the Scriptures are, but in another sense it is an inspired utterance, because the Spirit is giving it and using it in that way. So a vital element in preaching is a reliance upon the Spirit.

WILLIAM GURNALL: Not only “the preparations of the heart,” but “the answer of the tongue,” both are “of the Lord,” Proverbs 16:1. God keeps the key of the mouth as well as of the heart.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Of ourselves we are but unprofitable instruments, and when He has given us utterance, He must also make it effectual, in accordance with the saying that he who plants is nothing, and he who waters is nothing, but it is God that gives the increase.

WILLIAM GURNALL: Do ministers depend thus on God for utterance?

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): Be chiefly solicitous to obtain an unction upon what you do say.

E. M. BOUNDS (1835-1913): It is this unction which makes the word of God “quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” It is this unction which gives the words of the preacher such point, sharpness, and power, and which creates such friction and stir in many a dead congregation. The same truths have been told in the strictness of the letter, smooth as human oil could make them; but no signs of life, not a pulse throb; all as peaceful as the grave and as dead. The same preacher in the meanwhile receives a baptism of this unction, the divine inflatus is on him, the letter of the Word has been embellished and fired by this mysterious power, and the throbbings of life begin.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: How does one know it? It gives clarity of thought, clarity of speech, ease of utterance, a great sense of authority and confidence as you are preaching, an awareness of a power not your own thrilling through the whole of your being, and an indescribable sense of joy.

E. M. BOUNDS: It inspires and clarifies his intellect, gives insight and grasp and projecting power; it gives to the preacher heart power, which is greater than head power; and tenderness, purity, force flow from the heart by it. Enlargement, freedom, fullness of thought, directness and simplicity of utterance are the fruits of this unction.

JOHN CALVIN: Whence we may learn, that the faculty of speaking freely is no more in our power than are the affections of the heart. As far, then, as God directs our tongues, they are prepared for ready utterance―a contrast is always to be observed between that knowledge which springs from performance and that arising from utterance.

E. M. BOUNDS: This divine unction is the feature which separates and distinguishes true gospel preaching from all other methods of presenting the truth, and which creates a wide spiritual chasm between the preacher who has it and the one who has it not. It backs and impregnates revealed truth with all the energy of God.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: You cannot be filled with the Spirit without knowing it…What about the people? They sense it at once; they can tell the difference immediately. They are gripped, they become serious, they are convicted, they are moved, they are humbled. Some are convicted of sin, others are lifted up to the heavens―they know at once that something quite unusual and exceptional is happening. As a result they begin to delight in the things of God and they want more and more teaching.

JOHN OWEN (1616-1683): Preaching in the demonstration of the Spirit, which men so much quarrel about, is nothing less than the evidence in preaching of unction.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): The gift of utterance is a high favour.


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