The Exhorter

Albert Mohler writes:

Isaac Backus, the great Baptist, was first an exhorter before he was a preacher.  In revolutionary America, the exhorter had a particular task in the congregation, and this one was not likely to be popular.  After the preacher had preached, it was his responsibility to apply the message.  This might mean going up to somebody and saying, ‘This is going to be how you change your behavior.’  Now Backus was 15 [!] years old when he took this assignment.  So you had a 15-year-old (who was probably expendable), and he would come up after the preaching and say, ‘Now, Widow Jones, this means you are going to have to change the way you raise your children.  And this means, Mr. Smith, that you are going to have to change the way you do your business.  This means we are going to have to be accountable to the Word of God, and we are going to have to be accountable together’ (Albert Mohler, “The Primacy of Preaching,” in Feed My Sheep: A Passionate Plea For Preaching, 26)

The importance of admonition and application after proclamation (or during) is the point of this historical highlight.  Two thoughts come to mind after reading this:

  1. As preachers, we must show our hearers how the word of God comes to bear on their lives and circumstances.  (This assumes that the Bible is “relevant” [i.e. has something to say] to the modern reader/hearer, not that we make it relevant.)   
  2. The importance of raising up young men an women to make important contributions in body life.  

So much more can be gleaned from Mohler’s point, but if we take away his major point, namely that preaching involves admonition, we have come a step closer towards Biblical preaching.


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