Preaching for the Glory of God by Pastor John Samson
Last year, in the Fall, I was asked to teach a 50 minute seminar at a Ministers' Conference on the subject of preaching. One 50 minute session does not allow for a comprehensive overview, but it at least allows time for a good introduction to this vital subject. A new reformation is needed in our Churches and it must begin in our pulpits.
The feedback I've received since the Ministers' Conference has been very positive with a consistent comment being, "we especially enjoyed the hand out notes you provided." Because of this encouraging feedback, I post these hand out notes here, knowing that I am merely a gatherer of helpful material on this subject, over many a year. I claim no exclusivity of insight. Hopefully we can all see a little further because each of us stand on the shoulders of giants.
Because we as preachers collect much information along the way, from many different sources, it is often times very easy to quote someone and fail to identify the quote or even realize that someone else is being quoted.
The humorous story is told of a preacher quoting a fellow preacher. The first time he did so he said, "As our brother, Rev. Brian McDonald once said..." The second time he quoted him, he said, "As someone has wisely said..." Then, the third time... "Like I always say..."
"Mistakes" such as these happen all too frequently, and, believe it or not, they are not always intentional. If such is the case below, I apologize beforehand if I have failed to identify any of my sources. I do know that much of the content comes from Bryan Chapell's excellent book, "Christ Centered Preaching", which continues to instruct and inspire me, a number of years after I first read it.
If these brief notes can be used to encourage just one fellow preacher/teacher out there in the greatest of all tasks of preaching the very oracles of God, then I will be more than happy.
Soli Deo Gloria!
PREACHING FOR THE GLORY OF GOD
(A Brief Introduction to Homiletics)
Quote from Dr. John Piper - â€œPeople are starving for the greatness of God. But most of them would not give this diagnosis of their troubled lives. The majesty of God is an unknown cure. There are far more popular prescriptions on the market, but the benefit of any other remedy is brief and shallow. Preaching that does not have the aroma of God's greatness may entertain for a season, but it will not touch the hidden cry of the soul: "Show me Your glory!" The greatness and the glory of God are relevant. It does not matter if surveys turn up a list of perceived needs that does not include the supreme greatness of the sovereign God of grace. That is the deepest need. People are starving for God. People need to hear God-entranced preaching. They need someone, at least once a week, to lift up his voice and magnify the supremacy of God. They need to behold the whole panorama of His excellencies! It is not the job of the Christian preacher to give people moral or psychological pep talks about how to get along in the world; someone else can do that. What people need is for someone to tell them, week in and week out, about the supreme beauty and majesty of God.â€ (The Supremacy of God in Preaching)
ï® First, the preacher needs to realize that God's Word is not the preacher's word. But rather:
ï® He is a messenger, not an originator.
ï® He is a sower, not the source (Matt 13:3, 19).
ï® He is a herald, not the authority.
ï® He is a steward, not the owner (Col 1:25).
ï® He is the guide, not the author (Acts 8:31).
ï® He is the server of spiritual food, not the chef (John 21:15, 17).
A Preacher stands under Scripture, not over it, allowing it to speak through him, delivering what is not so much his message as its message.
In Expository preaching:The MEANING of the passage is the MESSAGE of the sermon
No matter what the length of the portion explained may be, if it is handled in such a way that its real and essential meaning as it existed in the light of the overall context of Scripture is made plain and applied to the present-day needs of the hearers, it may properly be said to be expository preaching. The message is God's intended message.
Urged on by devotees of "needs-based preaching," many preachers today have abandoned the text without recognizing that they have done so. These preachers may eventually get to the text in the course of the sermon, but the text does not set the agenda or establish the shape of the message. This inevitably leads to a loss of biblical authority and biblical content in the sermon. Without doubt, few preachers following this popular trend intend to depart from the Bible. But under the guise of an intention to reach modern secular men and women "where they are," the sermon has been transformed into a success seminar. Some verses of Scripture may be added to the mix, but for a sermon to be genuinely biblical, the text must set the agenda as the foundation of the message--not as an authority cited for spiritual footnoting.
ï® Forces the preacher to address a greater number of issues than what readily springs to mind
ï® Sensitive matters can be addressed without the appearance of pointing a finger at people or problems in the Church â€“ the matters simply appear in the sequence of the text itself
ï® Much time can be saved trying to come up with a new subject
ï® Each new sermon does not require a new study of the bookâ€™s author, background, context, etc.
ï® The congregation enjoys a healthy diet â€“ ALL of Godâ€™s Word in the SEQUENCE in which He inspired it
2 Tim. 4:1-5 - The word for "preach" is the word for â€œheraldâ€ or â€œannounceâ€ or â€œproclaim.â€ It is not a simple word for teaching or explaining. It is what a town crier did: "Hear ye, Hear ye, Hear ye! The King has a proclamation of good news for all those who swear allegiance to his throne. Be it known to you that he will give eternal life to all who trust and love his Son."
Preaching is a public exultation. It is not disinterested or cool or neutral. It is passionate about what it says.
KNOW YOUR DOCTRINE â€“ 1 Tim. 4:16
ï® If it is at all possible â€“ Seek to master the original Bible languages. It will put you at a tremendous advantage, to be able to check things out for yourself â€“ not every so called â€œscholarâ€ can be trusted.
ï® Take a course in systematic theology â€“ it will help you enormously (you donâ€™t have to leave your home, I can recommend courses for you, should you be interested)
Plenary Inspiration (the very words of Scripture are "God breathed" - 2 Tim. 3:16) favors an Essentially Literal Bible translation - word for word
ï® New American Standard Bible, English Standard Version, KJV, NKJV, Net Bible, Holman Christian Standard Bible, RSV, NRSV â€“ except for gender neutral language
ï® NOT dynamic equivalent translations or â€œthought for thoughtâ€ (New Living, NIV, Contemporary English Version)
ï® The Message is even more of a paraphrase
ï® At least start your study with a translation as close as possible to the original words inspired by the Holy Spirit
PROCLAIM THE WORD BOLDLY AS A HERALD
Donâ€™t leave anything out â€“ an ambassador has no right to delete or adjust the message his King, or his President gave him. In fact, it is treasonous to do so.
"Little is that ministry worth that never chides you. If God never uses his minister as a rod, depend upon it he will never use him as a pot of manna, for the rod of Aaron and the pot of manna always go together, and he who is Godâ€™s true servant will be both to your soulâ€¦ If you always enjoy sermons, the minister is not a good steward. He is not acting wisely who deals out nothing but sweets." - C. H. Spurgeon
1 Cor. 1:17-25
ï® Paul knew what it was that the Jews and Greeks wanted to hear â€“ Jews wanted signs, Greeks wanted wisdom â€“ BUT we preach Christ crucified.
ï® Paul knew before he ever opened his mouth that what he said would be offensive (either a stumbling block or foolishness) to everyone except the called
ï® It is God who determines what it is we preach, not rebel sinners!
This is not a seminar on exegesis or correct interpretation of the Scripture, so I will not develop this here. Yet, finding the correct interpretation is absolutely vital before setting about to organize your sermon. I believe it is the most important part of the study process, and by far, takes the most amount of time in sermon preparation. Proper exegesis will tell the student what the text says, what the text means, and how the text applies personally.
But assuming you have taken the time to do all this â€“ remember that the sermon is about ONE thing
ï® Speakers need focus
ï® Listeners need focus
ASK, ASK, ASKâ€¦
ï® What does the text ACTUALLY SAY?
ï® What does the text MEAN by what it says?
ï® What is its PURPOSE in being written? (it was written to real people with real struggles)
ï® WHAT was the intent of the author?
ï® WHY did the Holy Spirit include these words in Scripture?
ï® Until we have determined the PURPOSE of the passage, we are not ready to preach its truths, EVEN if we know many true facts about the text.
ï® This may seem obvious, but this part is so often neglected
WHAT HUMAN CONDITION IS THE HOLY SPIRIT ADDRESSING?
ï® What is the HUMAN CONDITION that caused the Holy Spirit to inspire the text, so that God would be glorified in His people?
ï® Could be specific sins â€“ un-forgiveness, lying, racism, etc.
ï® But it need not be a sin
ï® Grief, illness, the need to know how to share the gospel, the desire to be a better parent, the need to discern Godâ€™s will, understand our gifts - which are not sins, but they are needs that we have as fallen beings, and which Scripture addresses
ï® In other words â€“ WHY are these concerns being addressed?
ï® HOW does the Holy Spirit address this condition?
ï® If we donâ€™t understand this, and address this same issue in our hearers, we give them no reason to listen to us
ï® WHAT is the author of the passage talking about?
ï® What is he SAYING about what he is talking about?
MAKE YOUR SERMON GOD CENTERED AND GOSPEL CENTERED
Ask what does the text tell us about God?
What does the text tell us about the Gospel?
ï® Then preach what the Bible says
ï® Its not complicated, but it can mean much hard work - 1 Timothy 5:17 Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.
ï® Read and re-read the passage to determine the MAIN IDEA the writer is communicating (what is the big concept here?) OR if you using the text to support an idea, make sure there is sufficient material in the text that can be developed into the main subject of a message
ï® Condense the idea into one short sentence
ï® This should be what your sermon is about
ï® WHAT does the text say?
ï® What spiritual concerns does the text address (in its context)?
ï® What spiritual concerns do listeners share in common with those (or about) whom the text was written?
ï® No text communicates facts for information alone
ï® The Bible itself tells us that its purpose is to instruct, reprove and correct
ï® God expects scriptural truths to transform His people.
ï® Faithful preaching does the same
ï® What do you want me to believe?
ï® What do you want me to do?
ï® People have the right to ask, â€œWHY did you tell me that? andâ€¦
ï® WHAT am I supposed to do with that information?
ï® O.K. I hear youâ€¦ so what?
ï® Unless we answer the â€œso what?â€ question, people will wonder why they bothered to listen
ï® However well selected the meat of the sermon is, the message remains uncooked without thoughtful, true to the text application
ï® Pastor your people when you preach â€“ apply the message to the peopleâ€™s lives
ï® Interprets the text accurately (Remember - thereâ€™s only ONE correct interpretation, though there may be many applications)
ï® Addresses the textual rooted human condition we have
ï® Provides relevant textual application
ï® Folder â€“ set aside for upcoming sermon
ï® Contains insight, quotes, newspaper clippings, illustrations, textual insights
ï® Even if you donâ€™t use all the information, its very presence will take much of the pressure out of your weekly sermon preparation
ï® Build a folder library â€“ family; salvation; justification; sanctification, healing, gifts of the Spirit, etc.
ï® Remember - God called YOU to preach this sermon
ï® He called you to this situation to preach to these people
ï® Donâ€™t shrink, donâ€™t shirk, preach His truth with boldness!
ï® God is glorified when His truth is proclaimed (not merely when people respond positively)
ï® Youâ€™re a heraldâ€¦ and you preach to the audience of One
ï® If the Master was pleased, thatâ€™s all the feedback you need
Recommended For Further Reading:
Christ Centered Preaching â€“ Bryan Chapell
The Supremacy of God in Preaching â€“ John Piper