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The benefits of good preaching

25 Apr

The two topics I read about the most are leadership and preaching. Regarding the latter, I’m working my way through Saving Eutychus: How to preach God’s word and keep people awake, by Gary Millar and Phil Campbell. The authors take their theme from Acts 20:7-9; preaching should never bore people to death.

In chapter 2, “Preaching that changes the heart,” the authors argue that preaching should focus on

… helping people to hear what God is saying in the text.

Where God is explaining something, we need to help people to understand. Where God is warning us, we need to help people feel the urgency and weight of that. Where God is wooing us, we need to help people feel the pull of his love. Where God is correcting us, we need to show people that they are going the wrong way and to help them get back on track. Where God is comforting his people, we want people to fell the security and warmth of his comfort. And that, in a nutshell, is expository preaching.

The authors conclude the chapter by listing eight benefits of expository preaching.

What are the advantages of teaching the Bible in this way?

Expository preaching:

  1. does justice to the biblical material which makes it clear that God works through his word to change people’s lives—as it ‘uncages the lion’ and allows God’s word to speak.
  2. acknowledges that it is God alone, through the Spirit, who works in people’s lives, and that it is not our job to change people through clever or inspiring communication.
  3. minimizes the danger of manipulating people, because the text itself controls what we say and how we say it. The Bible leaves little room for us to return repeatedly to our current bugbears and hobbyhorses.
  4. minimizes the danger of abusing power, because a sermon driven by the text creates an instant safeguard against using the Bible to bludgeon (or caress) people into doing or thinking what we want them to do or think.
  5. removes the need to rely on our personality. While we all feel the weight, at times, of having little ‘inspiration’, energy or creativity, if our focus is on allowing the immense richness of Scripture to speak in all its colour and variety, the pressure is well and truly off.
  6. encourages humility in those teaching. While it can be a temptation to think that we are somehow special because we are standing at the front doing most of the talking (and, on a good day, receiving the encouragement), getting it straight that the key to preaching to the heart is simply uncovering the power and freshness of God’s words helps to keep us in our place.
  7. helps us to avoid simple pragmatism. If our focus is on working consistently to enable people to encounter the God who speaks through the text, we will not feel under pressure to address every single issue and topic as it comes up in the life of the church. Conversely, working through the Bible week by week will force us to cover subjects that we wouldn’t choose to address in a million years. In other words, expository preaching is the simplest, longest-lasting antidote we have to pragmatism.
  8. drives us to preaching the gospel. … expository preaching is also uniquely valuable in that it persistently drives us to the Lord Jesus Christ (wherever we are in the Bible) and so ‘forces’ us to preach the gospel—that is, to spell out what God has already done for us in the death and resurrection of his Son, and then to move from that grace to what God asks and enables us to do. When we preach the gospel we are not simply telling people how to be good or leaving them to wallow in the overwhelming sense that they are irredeemably bad.

 

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2014 in Books, Preaching, Quotes

 

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