What is good preaching?
Good preaching is
- Biblical – the Bible, God's word, sets the agenda, rather than the speaker. Anything else is little better than an interesting talk. "Arsenal goalkeepers 1950-1978" is a talk, you might be interested or not. A sermon is expounding the Bible. Ultimately God talks. It's always interesting (even if it's not engaging) because he is talking.
- Intellectual – I don't mean high brow or complex; the preacher must not confuse profundity and complexity. But it must be thought through. This means it must be based on studying God's word to rightly understand its meaning.
- Spiritual – unlike my Arsenal goalkeepers talk a sermon is a sermon because it is spiritual. How else could God be speaking unless something miraculous is going on? This is the theme of our EMA next week. "We ought to be driven forth with abhorrence from the society of honest men for daring to speak in the name of the Lord if the Spirit rests not upon us" (CH Spurgeon). It is the Spirit who ensures that the words of men are also received as the words of God.
- Prophetic – it speaks into situations and is intimately connected with the lives of those to whom it is spoken. This isn't a comment on prophecy (that's a whole different issue) – but true preaching is prophetic in that it connects with people and calls for a response. For this reason, I maintain that every person's favourite preacher must be their pastor – not some internet celebrity. It is only he that engages with you in this truly week-in week-out prophetic manner.
Therefore, the chief tools of the preacher are careful Bible study/preparation and heartfelt prayer. Many, if not most, preachers have deficiencies in one of these areas – if you're like me, quite possibly both! It's basic stuff, but good to remind ourselves what our calling requires of us.
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