This is the eighth post in a series of reflections based on Jared Wilson’s book “The Pastor’s Justification.”
Preaching is a terrifying task. Every Sunday I stand before a people hungry to hear from God. The words I speak carry incredible weight and I will have to give an account for every syllable spoken. Those of us who teach will be judged with greater strictness (James 3:1).
Often a blog post with this title will outline “5 Steps to a Better Sermon.” The author will usually give helpful advice on preparation, study, notes, and delivery. Although this advice can be beneficial, it is missing what we actually need to preach great sermons – namely, the presence of God.
Jared Wilson explains it this way:
“The important thing is not whether you can call down thunder and set hearts aflame with your words, but whether you have personally felt the thunder and flame of the gospel’s word.”
Pastor – an eloquent sermon with passionate delivery disconnected from the presence of God will surely be an engaging message… that leads people to Hell. If the only time you study the Bible is in anticipation for a Bible Study or Sunday sermon, you are in grave danger of shipwrecking your ministry.
So, how can pastors preach better sermons?
1. Preach from the overflow of your relationship with God.
We must understand that we preach for an audience of One. It is impossible for us to lead people to where we ourselves have not been. If you desire for the people in your congregation to experience God’s power you need to fall on your face before God and plead for His power in your own life. Transformational sermons are birthed through the labor of prayer; not the creativity of the pastor.
2. Preach the Bible!
The Apostle Paul, writing to a young pastor named Timothy says it this way, “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction (2 Tim. 4:2).” Pastors, our authority does not come from our title, degree, or denominational leadership. We only have authority when we carefully teach the Scriptures for the people of God in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Practically, this means we need to practice exegesis rather than eisegesis. I spent time unpacking the differences in this blog post so I will be brief. In summary, the main point of the Biblical passage should be the main point of our message. We should never begin with a topic and then distort the Scriptures to fit with our clever idea. Preach the Word of God not the words of men.
3. Preach Jesus Christ as the crucified King who has conquered death, sin, and hell!
Far too many sermons resemble the incoherent ramblings of a self-help coach sprinkled with obscure Bible verses. The primary problem of mankind is not the need for a better marriage, financial freedom, parenting skills, or any of the other “hot topics” churches recycle in their preaching calendar. Does the Bible speak into these areas? Absolutely. But not to the neglect of preaching Jesus Christ as living a perfect life, dying an atoning death, and rising victoriously from the dead.
The greatest issue every human being faces is their sinful nature. We are born into this world spiritually dead, unable to even respond to God (Ephesians 2:1). Quit spraying religious cologne on rotting corpses and hoping they come back the following week. The people in your church do not need “life skills” – they need to hear about the solution to their sin problem – the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
What would you add to this list? Let me know by leaving a comment!