R. A. Torrey (1856-1928) was the most important evangelist between Dwight L. Moody and Billy Graham. In the eighty years since his death, his fame has declined, so that he is no longer a household name. But his name is still powerful: you can hardly find a Christian bookstore so vacuous that it doesn’t sell one of his books in a cheap-paper edition from Bethany House or Whitaker House. He just keeps staying in print, and his insistent, stentorian voice keeps sounding forth. When John Mark Reynolds was founding a Great Books Program at Biola University in the mid-1990s, he looked around for a Biola name that symbolized the union of solid learning with fervent piety. The name that does that is Torrey.
I was recently asked to compile a list of Torrey’s greatest sermons. The emphasis in this list is not Torrey’s works in general, but his sermons, for a class on spoken rhetoric. So each selection had to be the published form of a sermon originally preached to an actual congregation or revival audience, with the exception of the second selection on “How to Prepare a Sermon”. A list of Torrey’s greatest works would have to include very different genres like the revival-sparking How to Pray, the Bible-Institute-founding What the Bible Teaches, and the saint-equipping How to Work for Christ.
I. From the Years with Moody
1. “Ten Reasons Why I Believe the Bible is the Word of God” (1898, pages 114-132 of Charles Leach’s Our Bible: How We Got It)
2. “How To Prepare a Sermon” (1901, from How to Work for Christ, pp. 321-331)
II. From the Great World Tour
3. “Found Wanting” (1903, from Revival Addresses, pp. 30-48)
4. “Every Man’s Need of a Refuge” (1903, from Revival Addresses, pp. 62-75)
5. “Refuges of Lies” (1903, from Revival Addresses, pp. 112-129)
6. “Three Fires” (1903, from Revival Addresses, pp. 253-271)
7. “What the Resurrection of Jesus from the Dead Proves” (1904, from The Bible and Its Christ, pp. 101-111)
8. “God’s Blockade of the Road to Hell” (1905: from Real Salvation and Wholehearted Service, pp. 58-70)
9. “The Most Effective Method of Soul-Winning” (1905: from Real Salvation and Wholehearted Service, pp. 233-246)
III. From the BIOLA Years and After
10. “Walking as Jesus Walked” (1917, from The Voice of God in the Present Hour, pp. )
11. “The Deity of the Holy Spirit, and the Distinction between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” (1918, from Fundamental Doctrines of the Christian Faith, pp. )
12. “The Great Attraction, the Uplifted Christ” (1922, from The Gospel for Today )
13. “Why God used D. L. Moody” (1923, published as its own booklet. Reprinted often.)
14. “The Personality of the Holy Spirit” (1925, from The Holy Spirit: Who He Is, and What He Does, pp. 11-40)
15. “The Baptism with the Holy Spirit: What it Is and What it Does” (1925, from The Holy Spirit: Who He Is, and What He Does, pp. 107-135)
Bonus: Go hear Torrey’s own voice delivering the sermon “Is the Bible the Word of God” (26 minute mp3) at a sermon audio site.