What Does this Mean for the Preacher?

What does all of this mean for the preacher? After all, “the preacher’s first, and the most important task is to prepare himself, not his sermon.”[1] First of all, the preacher must be a true “man of the Word.” He must be educated enough to understand the theology that flows from the Scripture he is to preach. He must be familiar enough with Scripture that he does not have to struggle with the basic teachings of the Word.

But more than that, he must have a burning desire and a jealousy for the Word of God. He must desire the Word of God like he desires air to breathe. He must be so sure of the truth and power of this Word that he will stop at nothing to defend it and will be stopped by nothing in his preaching of it.

He must possess a humility that will drive him to his knees to commune with God. This humility will give him the fire to preach as he should because he knows that the Word he preaches has power because it is not his own word, but God’s. This understanding will police his heart as he studies and preaches because his jealousy for the Word of God can serve to prevent him from twisting the text to fit his own carnal desires to promote himself or his agenda.

This communion with God is essential. “You need to be alone with God before you can effectively usher others into His presence.”[2] This is what makes the theology of the Scriptures come alive. “All too often the preacher of the Word strains out the delicious wonders and serves it up with boring dullness, drained of all life!”[3] The preacher must himself be impacted by the Word so that the Word will, through him, impact others.

Finally, the theological truths of God’s Word, when preached in the power of the Spirit, will transform people’s lives. Indeed, the greatest external evidence of the power of God’s Word is the people in the pew. I have only been in ministry a few years (although I was involved in lay ministry for several years prior to my ordination). In this brief period of time, I have seen people delivered from drunkenness, delivered from immorality, freed from drug addiction and sexual addiction. I have seen people freed from the bondage of childhood sexual abuse and physical abuse, I have seen men quit beating their wives and become loving and devoted husbands and fathers, I have seen strippers and prostitutes changed into godly women and have even seen ultra-rational skeptics become sound defenders of a book that they once ridiculed.

Such changes do not occur because of the personality of some preacher, or borrowed business strategies implemented in a church-growth setting, or as a result of brow-beating by an aggressive evangelist. These things happen because the Holy Spirit took the truth of the preached Word and pierced the hearts of sinners until they became like that Word and its truth, alive and of God.

[1] D. Martin Lloyd Jones, Preaching and Preachers, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1971), 166.
[2] Bruce Mawhinney, Preaching with Freshness, (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1997), 137.
[3] Ibid, 108.

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About Michael R. Jones

Pastor and PhD candidate writing on Paul's theology of suffering.
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2 Responses to What Does this Mean for the Preacher?

  1. GUNNY says:

    Amen!As one who teaches homiletics, I know that some things cannot be taught, at least not in the classroom from one human to another.There are no short-cuts to spiritual preparation, but so many want to circumvent the process. There are so many sermon outline books and guys will buy the sermons of others and preach them. They find they can get by with the appearance of success (and some success in some avenues), without the time invested in (biblical, theological, language, and exegetical) study and prayer.Oddly enought, folks spend little time on spiritual preparation in seminary, perhaps thinking they will jump start that area after seminary, but it’s hard to right the ship when they’ve substituted the propellor of pragmatism in the place of the Holy Spirit blowing in the sails.

  2. I have no problem agreeing with you since I have seen this to be true. It is too easy nowadays simply to put on an appearance of piety and coast on the other things. I think a good course on spiritual preparation in seminary, while it will not solce the problem, will go quite a ways toward putting the future minister on the right track. Even at my own seminary. which has a good balance of scholarship and fervor for ministry, service, and spiritual pursuits, has only one required class on spiritual formation. There is an elective on the Biblical Theology of Prayer that is offered every couple of years, there is no course on pastoral prayer or how to maintain one’s spiritual passion in ministry. What a far cry from the Reformers and Puritans, who spent hours in prayer and yet still managed to prepare one-hour and two-hour sermons, write books, etc.

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