One Reformed preacher whose sermons have helped me deal with several theological conundrums is a wonderful man called Arturo G. Azurdia III. Art (for those who know him) and have listened to him usually likes using the word “relentless” and therefore he becomes our first in a series of relentless preachers to be featured.
QN: Who has taught you most of what it means to preach the Word of God?
AA: It’s difficult for me to reduce it to one man, because several have had strategic influence on me at various stages of my development.
Shortly after I was converted it was the preaching of John MacArthur that had such a formative influence on my life. He evidenced (and still does!) such a thoroughgoing confidence in the Scripture, and the necessary corollary which suggests that one of the principal aims of preaching is to be relentlessly [oh yes, relentless] faithful to text itself.
It was a man named Jim Andrews who first awakened me to the importance of a sermon’s structure and delivery.
In the last ten or twelve years, however, the single most influential preaching mentor in my life has been Dr. Edmund P. Clowney. He taught me that the entirety of the Bible is Christian Scripture, and that preaching isn’t altogether Christian until it displays the influence of the Gospel.
Of course, my all-time favorite book on preaching is Preaching and Preachers by Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. I long to incarnate everything he says a preacher ought to be and do. Of course, each week I feel like I fall miserably short. But every time I read this text I find myself saying to God: “Please make me a preacher like this.”
QN: I’d certainly have to agree with you on the value Lloyd-Jones’ book on preaching. Now, what should be the main aim in training men for the pastoral ministry?
AA: Given the present evangelical scene in the USA—my greatest task is to persuade men that the Gospel must never be assumed but relentlessly [Ah, that word again] applied to all of life. We desperately need men of courage who will passionately and winsomely declare the glories of Jesus Christ every week.
At the same time, we need men of genuine piety whose pastoral leadership will express itself, unapologetically, through the instrumentality of prayer rather than through the typical pastoral approach that panders after the latest schemes, fads, and gimmicks.
I must convince men that as pastors they must be theologians, first and foremost . . . and, also, that they must seek to intimately know and wisely love the people who have been entrusted to them by the Great Shepherd.
QN: Who had the greatest influence on your theological development?
AA: Again, it is very difficult for me to reduce this to one particular individual—I have so many theological heroes/mentors. Let me give you a list: John Calvin, John Owen, Jonathan Edwards, B. B. Warfield, Edmund P. Clowney, D. A. Carson, Sinclair Ferguson, Anthony Hoekema, Donald Bloesch. Of course, it must be acknowledged that these various men (and many others) have affected me in different ways, for different reasons, and to different ends.
QN: [Amen!] Right, if time travel were possible, which post-biblical historic preacher would you like to hear and why?
AA: This is an easy question for me to answer: I would want to sit under the preaching of George Whitefield. The reasons for this are simple: 1) He was relentlessly [Ah, that word again] committed to the proclamation of the Gospel; 2) He was a warm, kind-hearted Calvinist; 3) He possessed a robust love for human beings—often expressed in great acts of social benevolence; 4) He was ecumenical in the best sense; and, 5) His preaching was uniquely empowered by the Spirit of God.
The only other historical person who might come close to this is C. H. Spurgeon—who, of course, also loved Whitefield.