Gardner C. Taylor

preaching skill

The Preacher's Dialogue

Son of man, can these bones live again? How does one answer that kind of question?

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Do you ever feel as though you're preaching to the dead? Do you need to have your heart rekindled with hope in what God's preached Word can accomplish? Then this stirring message by Dr. Gardner Taylor (slightly condensed from the original recording) delivered at the E.K. Bailey conference on expository preaching in Dallas, Texas is just what you need. Dr. Gardner Taylor, regarded as one of America's premier preachers, served as the senior pastor of Concord Baptist Church in Brooklyn, New York. subscribers can listen to Dr. Taylor's message here.

Let me read here from the thirty-seventh chapter of the book of Ezekiel.

The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the Spirit of the Lord and sent me down in the midst of the valley, which was full of bones. And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. And he said unto me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" And I answered, "O Lord God, thou knowest." And again he said unto me, "Prophesy onto these bones, and say unto them, 'O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.'"

What a scene. Here was a valley where this man was first carried out. And, preachers, if you have been carried out you can never get back in where you were. Never. The Spirit will haunt you and taunt you. You may seek to squirm and to wrestle your way free, but you will never escape. You may do whatever you can to nullify your calling, but if he has carried you out you'll never get back in.

Can these bones live again? Can that first fresh resolve of enthusiasm [for preaching] come again to you? Can that first fresh morning enthusiasm be yours again?

Here was a valley of dry bones. This had once been a proud army with the regimental banners fluttering in the air. The polished chariots catching the reflection of the sun. The rhythmic thunder of marching feet. It had once been a mighty army—proud, self-assured—marching through a valley. But now all of that is gone. The once shining lances are rusting. The regimental banners are in tatters. The chariots are wheel-less and themselves rusting. And this man looks around. Is that what the preacher is called to do—to look around to see what havoc has been wrought in this valley, which we call life?

Those of you who preach in America ought to read again the Declaration of Independence. It's enough to make your heart skip a beat: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, among them Life and Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." What a grand enterprise in history! Providential, I'm sure. Of God, I'm certain. And what we have done with it? We have allowed this nation to become plagued by drugs. And the church of Jesus Christ has done very little.

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Jim Isaacson

April 14, 2015  6:25pm

What a perpetually timely theme for most pastors. Particularly timely in a smaller church when it seems like people have become deathly comfortable with routines and religion and status quo. Well stated is the conflict between the doubt of the pastor and the infinite ability of God. To such a situation these are truly words of life and hope. One more reason to keep speaking the word of truth. Thanks.

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thomas cohoon

April 14, 2015  12:34pm

Words I needed to hear. Human words and human efforts are futile on their own accord. But the word of God and faith in Him are powerful. Let God's words and His will flow through you like a vessel and truly live.

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February 21, 2013  4:52am

This excellent and highly inspirational.

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Lolita Hickman

February 19, 2013  8:31am

Amen! Thanks so much for this article. As always, Dr. Gardner speaks to the heart of the preacher, the heart of the matter from the very heart of God. I must preach and pastor until God says "Well done!" Then and only then will I receive the crown of life. Thanks for the reminder!

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Rev. Lee T. Boddie Sr.

February 18, 2013  5:28pm

Awe inspiring! Just what I needed to hear in this season of Pastoring/Preaching. Just when I was doubting that the Word of God I preach on Sunday was not being heard or obeyed. My calling is to speak the truth of the Word! If you are called to preach, you can never stop preaching. I've tried and I never had peace. I praise God for you Dr. Taylor and Preaching Today for your help. Lord knows I needed it.

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