I'm not a very patient Christian bookshopper. Many go into a Wesley Owen or a CLC and browse happily and slowly. I rush in like a whirlwind and sweep the shelves and usually leave without buying anything. I don't have much patience for the majority of Christian books - to me they tend to be either rubbishy Christian novels or dry, dead theology (a misnomer surely). I lament spending lunch hour after lunch hour scanning the shelves and leaving empty-handed.
I think that partly explains why I invest so much time in transcribing sermons. My thought is that there is no point in moaning about a lack of quality Christian books if you don't write your own.
But that's an aside. I was thrilled last week to find a treasure in CLC which I duly brought. Day One Publications have brought out a volume; "C H Spurgeon's Sermons Beyond Volume 63". I'm an avid collector of the "Metropolitan Tabernacle" volumes and have about 20 or so to go. This volume has produced 45 "forgotten" sermons that have been transcribed and edited. Phil Johnson wrote the foreword and made a valuable point;
"Years ago a student just entering seminary visited my office and noticed that two large shelves behind my desk are filled with the New Park Street Pulpit and Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit collections, which he had never seen in their entirety. He was fascinated by the set. Thumbing through a random volume, he observed out loud what almost everyone nowadays would notice first of all; by today's standards the books are very thick, the type quite small and the paragraphs surprisingly long.
The student looked up from the book he was holding and asked whether I had read every sermon in all sixty three volumes. I told him I had not (and still haven't) and that reading Spurgeon is a pleasure I expect to savour with care and patience, sermon by sermon for the rest of my life ... I explained that I don't read Spurgeon chronologically. I select sermons to read based on whatever passage of Scripture I am studying at any given time. I wouldn't think of preaching on a passage until I have seen what Spurgeon had to say about it ... He almost never fails to shine a bright light into some dark corner of the text showing me things I would not have seen otherwise".
I know that not everyone is a Spurgeon fan but a few thoughts occured to me;
1. In the Christian book saturated market - have we abandoned the use of "books of sermons"?
2. If you are a pastor/teacher/preacher - have you considered how your ministry will outlive you? It's unlikely that CD's or sermon tapes will do. Do not hide behind the facade of "humility". God gave you a gift for a purpose - do you really believe that only your generation is meant to be exposed to your gift? If you are not then you are robbing future generations. Are you writing? Are you commissioning some to transcribe your sermons?
3. We all know the "classic" books of sermons. C H Spurgeon of course being one of them. John Calvin is another. James Montgomery Boice is a more modern classic. But what about the gifted and modern preachers of today that God is using? Greg Haslam listed his favourite preachers in a recent interview;
"But I regularly try to hear sermons by A W Tozer (a true prophet for today, who died in 1963), Tim Keller (a church-planter in New York, and evangelistic pastor-teacher par excellence), Mark Driscoll (a modern-day Spurgeon!), Terry Virgo, David Pawson (prophetic teachers), past greats like Lloyd-Jones, Eric Alexander and John Stott (great expositors), as well as some people you may not have heard of like Rick Godwin and Ern Baxter".
Ern Baxter for example does not have much in print of his sermons - that is exactly the reason why I try to transcribe the sermons of his that I have. Just the same for Rob and Ryan Rufus.
Let's not forget sermons! They can accomplish much in opening to us the gospel of glory and grace!