I have longed felt called into the full-time task of preaching. God has given me a passion to accomplish this task, and my local Church has recognized a giftedness in this task. This is why I consider myself to be called. Because of this calling the subject of preaching is one that always gains my attention. I am always seeking to improve on my own preaching by listening to other preachers, thinking through different preaching philosophies, and reading book on the subject of preaching. It is this last pursuit that led me to a book titled Spirit Empowered Preaching put out by Christian Focus under the Mentor series. Arturo G. Azurdia, in part, wrote this book because he believes “…that the greatest impediment to the advancement of the gospel in our time is the attempt of the church of Jesus Christ to do the work of God apart from the truth and power of the Spirit of God.” (pg. 29) Dealing with this problem is the subject matter of the book.Azurdia struck a nerve with me when he made this statement about his study of the Holy Spirit, “To be brutally honest, over the years my concern has been directed more toward avoiding charismatic excesses than it ahs been toward rightfully acknowledging the sovereign Spirit as he presents Himself on the pages of His own scriptures.” (pg. 32)How true this statement is of many of us within conservative evangelical circles!
An important point in this book is Azurdia’s explanation of how the Spirit works through the task of preaching:
“In a single statement, the vitality of the Spirit is His effectual work of glorifying Jesus Christ through fallible men who faithfully proclaim the Christocentric scriptures. This is ministry distinctive to the new covenant people of God: Christ is our message, preaching Christ from all of the scriptures is our method, and the attending power of the purchased Spirit of God in our means.” (pg. 63)
Azurdia summarized his thoughts in this book with three concluding statements. First, “Spirit empowered preaching is the principle means of advancing the kingdom of Jesus Christ.” Second, “Spirit empowered preaching will be evangelical in emphasis” (On this point Azurdia goes to great lengths to demonstrate that Spirit filled preaching must be centered on the person of Christ. For it is the ministry of the Spirit to point to Christ.). And finally, “Spirit empowered preaching is the responsibility of the Church.”
Overall this book is a good read. Without a doubt the paper backs from Christian Publishing are my favorite. The covers are a more sturdy that most paperbacks, yet they still have enough give in them to bend them up for comfort sake. In addition, the cover design is quite creative (the copy I read had more of an orange color than the yellow that is on the picture).
The book (including contents, index, and everything else) is 192 pages long. To be honest this number probably could have been closer to 160 for a couple of reasons. First of all, there were a couple of places where Azurdia was a little bit repetitive. But more than that, this book could have been shorter is some of the extremely long block quotations had been cut out. This may have been my biggest frustration with the whole book. Azurdia uses a lot of quotes (too many in my opinion) without referencing where they have come from. Because Azurdia uses end notes this forces the reader to flip to the end of the chapter if he wants to find the source of the quote.
Overall I would categorize this book as more as encouraging and exhortative than informative and doctrinal. Azurdia encouraged me to remain faithful to the text of God’s Word in my preaching, and to invest serious time to prayer in my sermon preparations.
Despite a couple of minor frustrations I would recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in the Holy Spirit working through the task of preaching.
You can learn more about Arturo G. Azurdia III by going to www.spiritempoweredpreaching.com.