Preaching

PREACHING ENRICHMENT SECTION

The Jeremiah Institute is committed to provide materials to improve the preaching and ministry of those engaged in the great work of preaching. God’s Son was a preacher (Mark 1:38). We will cover preaching and the preacher’s work from A to Z. Make this one of your regular stops for enriching your preaching and adding fuel to your desire.

THE POWER OF PREACHING

PreachingIn a recent conversation with an old friend I hadn’t seen in years, he asked, “Are you still preaching?” When I answered yes, he wanted to know why because in his estimation preaching was an antique practice that no longer communicated in the twenty-first century. Obviously I was a bit taken back by his honest remark, because I believe in the power of preaching.

I preached my first sermon in 1963 and haven’t stopped, having spoken more that 10,000 times in 40 states and 23 countries, and been a trainer of preacher of over 30 years. I still preach every Sunday as a local preacher. My belief in the power of preaching is stronger today than ever because I can look back and see the power and influence of preaching, but also because of what the Bible teaches.

In a day of declining church attendance there is an urgency to turn the tide. Sadly, in many congregations the power of preaching as set forth in the Bible is set aside in preference to self-help, feel-good, let’s keep everybody happy talks. The Jeremiah fire is missing; the voice of God calling for repentance is silent. The “whole counsel” of God remains a mystery within the covers of the Bible.

The clarion voice of the preacher with a “thus saith the Lord” is needed today more than ever. Hell is still hot and eternity is without an end. The Gospel is still the only power of God unto salvation (cf. Romans 1:14-16). An entertaining message void of the Gospel, no matter how many laughs it receives, will not save one soul or snatch a backslider out of the fire (Jude 22, 23). That’s one reason Paul told Timothy to “Preach the word” (2 Timothy 4:1-7).

What gives preaching its power? It is not the rhetoric ability, charm, or academic standing of the preacher; he is no more than a “cheap clay pot” who has been entrusted by God with the Gospel power (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:7). God, not man, gives preaching its power. Here are a few reasons why this is true.

  • First, God has promised that His word will not return to Him void (Isaiah 55:11). It will either convict or condemn the hearer, who always has the choice relative to how he will respond. There are times when we preach doubting it accomplished anything because there is no visible evidence. This is faulty or discouraged thinking. Preach and God will take care of the results. He keeps the record of how people respond.
  • Second, the preached word is God’s authorized way of sowing the seed of the kingdom in a person’s heart (Luke 8:11-15). As the seed falls on hearts it is their choice as to how they will respond. Yes, it is tragic that many choose to reject it but that doesn’t take away from the power of preaching; it magnifies it.
  • Third, Jesus commanded His followers to go into all the world and preach the Gospel (Mark 16:15, 16). It is obvious He would not have commanded something that would one day lose its power and need to be replaced by human wisdom, humor and self-help chats. His command is binding until He returns.
  • Fourth, in His wisdom God has designed preaching so as to connect it with His voice. Jesus said to the seventy when He sent them out, “He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth Him that sent me” (Luke 10:16). This elevates preaching the word to the highest level of accountability. God calls through the preached and taught word (2 Thessalonians 2:14).
  • Fifth, the power of preaching is seen in what the word of God is able to do to the hearts and souls of people: “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). God’s word is able to perform spiritual surgery on man’s soul; nothing else designed by man can do this.
  • Sixth, God has tied redemption to preaching; this means that it is not optional: “…how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach except they be sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:14, 15). It is God’s will that preaching continue in all its power. The Gospel is, and shall always be, God’s power unto salvation” (Romans 1:14). This is why we must preach it to all nations (Matthew 28:18-20).
  • Seventh, the need for preaching is seen in its power to prick the hearts of people who hear: “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their hearts, and said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts2:37). Funny stories may arouse laughter and draw attention, but only the Gospel can arouse repentance.
  • Eighth, preaching is powerful because it presents the inspired word of God: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16, 17). Only the truth of God’s word can set sinners free (cf. John 8:32).
  • Ninth, preaching God’s Good News is powerful because it is God’s word, not man’s word or stories, that will judge us in the last day: “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). Since this is true, doesn’t it make sense to preach the word? To let the power of preaching flow through the earthen vessel is God’s way.
  • Tenth, the power of preaching is seen in that it was one of the major ways Jesus chose to communicate His messages: “And he said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth” (Mark 1:38). Jesus didn’t go forth as a jokester, soft spoken, beat-around-the-bush preacher. His message was repent (Mark 1:15).

There are additional reasons why preaching is powerful. Hopefully these ten have called our attention to the need to restore this power in our pulpits. I need to make it clean also that I am not trying to limit preaching to a pulpit in a building. Philip preached in a chariot (Acts 8:29-40). Paul preached in the open air on Mars Hill (Acts 17:22-31). Peter preached in a house (Acts 10:34-48). Preaching is as powerful as it has always been, and needed more than ever. The lost and saved are waiting to hear a “cheap clay pot” preach the word (2 Corinthians 4:7).

Articles about Preaching

________________________

J. J. Turner, Ph.D. is the author of three new books on preaching: How to Preach Like Jesus, Preaching Partners With God, and 77 Tips for Improving Your Preaching. They may be purchased by clicking on the links on this page.

A couple started to miss the services of the church. The preacher visited to find out why they were absent. He had thought since they were empty nesters maybe they had been on an extended trip. Hopefully that hadn’t been sick or been dealing with some other problems the church family didn’t know about. They were missed.

     In the course of the conversation, when asked why they had been missing services; the husband replied, “To be honest preacher… it’s your sermons. We weren’t getting anything out of them. I know it may not be a good reason but it’s the truth.”

     The claim of not getting anything out of a sermon is heard frequently from church members. It is one of the major complaints Satan instigates in the Body of Christ. In some cases the complaints have been leveled by “prominent” members of a congregation with enough clout to get preachers fired.

     I confess that through the years I have heard some sermons I had to struggle to get something to take away. Even in those cases I was able to jot down Scripture references and ask questions; getting something out of the sermon.

The Dynamics of the Preaching Event

     The preaching event is an amazing dynamic. It involves many factors. It involves the preacher, the listener, the Word, other attendees, the environment, and includes the presence of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. And oh yes, Satan is present so he can “steal the word out of hearts so they can’t believe” (Luke 8:12). Keep this picture in your mind.

     In a communication class I jotted down these filters that impact the listening skills affecting the members in an audience:

  1. Culture  
  2. Education level  
  3. Language     
  4. Vocabulary
  5. Beliefs 
  6. Values
  7. Attitude
  8. Expectations
  9. Intentions  
  10. Commitment  
  11. Interest
  12. Knowledge
  13. Reasoning skills
  14. Perceived needs       
  15. Physical state of health

     Awareness of the dynamics of the preaching event help us to see why, at best, communication is an ongoing challenging; especially for listeners. The preaching event is more than a two-way exercise—the preacher and the listener—it involves numerous factors, such as above, that determines what we get out of a sermon.

Biblical Emphasis on Listening

God gave each of us two ears and one mouth; evidently He wants us to listen twice as much as we talk. We spend 60 percent of our waken minutes listening; remembering about 25 percent of what we hear (If we pay close attention).

     Jesus had this to say about listening:

  1. Matthew 11:15: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
  2. Matthew 10:27: “Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak it in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops.”
  3. Matthew 13:13: “Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.”
  4. Matthew 13:16: “But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear.”
  5. Luke 8:18: “Therefore take heed HOW you hear. For whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken away.”
  6. Mark 4:24: Then He said to them, ‘Take heed WHAT you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given.”
  7. Matthew 13:15: “For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, let they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.”

     On the Day of Pentecost, while Peter was preaching, we read this about the audience: “Now when they HEARD this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Men and brethren what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). Obeying the Gospel relates to how a person listens.

     The opposite reaction occurred during Stephens’ sermon to the Jews: “When they HEARD these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth” (Acts 7:54). When God’s word is proclaimed it never fails to accomplish something: “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me VOID, but is shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the things for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).

Suggestions for Getting More from a Sermon

As we have noted the preaching event is a very involved and dynamic event. It is more than just coming, taking a seat, and looking at the preacher. Likewise it involved more than preparing a sermon, standing in a pulpit, and speaking words.

     Since this lesson is about how to get more from a sermon, the emphasis is on the listener. Going to the preaching event is like going to the bank. If you don’t put something in you won’t get anything out.

Ministry Burnout Book

Christians and Voting

Special for You

© Dr. JJ Turner and ©Jeremiah Institute - All Rights Reserved (usage)

Go to top