Over the past decade I’ve read close to two dozen books on preaching. Most of these books either focus on biblical interpretation, sermon preparation or delivery. In that time I can’t recall reading a book dedicated solely to the centrality of the heart in the Christian and the need to preach to it. Edwards was famous for writing Religious Affections in which he outlined what the affections are and how to fan the flame of our affections in the pursuit of God’s glory. This is why when I heard about Burning Hearts Preaching to the Affections by seasoned pastors Josh Moody and Robin Weekes, I was excited to learn about the place of the affections in our walk with Christ and in preaching Jesus to ourselves and others.
The book begins with a thanks to the author’s families and congregations for the time allowed to write the book. From there the authors in chapter one explain what the affections are. Here the author states, “Affections are the movement of our thoughts, feelings and will towards a desire object, person or event. An affection is what inclines us to something Whereas an effect is what results from something). Affections are what move us toward action” (14). The author make it clear that “affections are part of what it means to be human and are to increasingly be oriented towards godly desires in the Christian” (24). In chapter two the authors define preaching to the affections as follows, “Preaching is the God-ordained means by which he meets with His people through his Word and by His Spirit in such a way that His people’s eyes are opened to see Jesus and be captivated by Him” (25). I was happy that the authors emphasize the systematic, continuous exposition of God’s Word (24). In chapter three the authors give ten reasons to preach to the affections: Biblical precedent, biblical warning, biblical promise, historical examples, global examples, evangelistic effectiveness, pastoral winsomeness, missional opportunity, the purity of the Church, and the glory of God. Chapter four gives eight reasons to preach to the affections. Chapter five is an appeal to preach to the affections. In the last part of the book the authors give very helpful examples of how to preach to the affections from Colossians 3:1-11, Isaiah 54:5, Mark 9:33-50, and Revelation 3:7-13. The book concludes with more instruction on preaching to the affections without sentimentality.
As one who is engaged in weekly teaching a group of men at my local church, and in writing I found this book to be very helpful. This book helped me to think about the aim of my study is not for information purposes but to further fan the flame of my own faith, and others, as well. Edwards was known to go horse riding for hours on end. During these horse rides, he would observe nature. He would also spend time examining a subject till his heart was warmed to it. Unless our hearts are warmed to the topic we’re teaching or preaching on, we as preachers and teachers of God’s Word aren’t ready to preach, or teach on it. This isn’t emotionalism—it’s that we need to be growing in the truths we’re proclaiming. Mere words coming out of our mouths without heart change behind them isn’t biblical preaching or teaching. The heart and life that has been set on fire with God’s truth is an awesome weapon in the hands of the living God. This is the point of this book to not only address the disconnect that can happen between head and heart but to address it first in those who preach and teach the Word. The task of preaching and teaching God’s Word is a high and holy task that not very many should endeavor to do and few ever do very well.
The authors call God’s under shepherds to preach to the affections in order to stir God’s people up to grow in Christlikeness. This book for some will be a reminder, but for others it will help radically transform their paradigm on preaching. For me, it helped me to consider afresh that preaching is not a information dump where I need to say everything in my notes. While every lesson or message needs to be biblical, the end result should be not only be sound doctrine, but sound biblical doctrine matched by sound living. Such preaching and teach is sorely needed in our day. This book will resonate with preachers who desire to help not only themselves but others begin to understand what a life lived well for God looks like. This book will help preachers understand more how hearts and lives are to be affected by the truth. I highly recommend this book and believe it will help those new to teaching and preaching along with seasoned preachers of God’s Word.
Author: Josh Moody and Robin Weekes
Publish: Christian Focus (2014)
I received this book for free from Christian Focus for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”