Occasionally we need sermons about the purpose of sermons; preaching about preaching and what to do with it! What is the purpose of preaching? If the preacher doesn’t know,surely the people in the pew won’t know. What constitutes a “good” sermon? Is it one that stirs the heart? Arouses the intellect? Challenges the audience to be more Christ-like? Addresses relevant issues? Uses great rhetoric? Exposits the Bible?
What makes a good sermon?! Spurgeon said a fog in the pulpit makes for a mist in the pews. Edwards preached a sermon entitled, “How the listen to a Sermon.” We tend to take the cue from commercial society that the “best” preaching is found in the fullest buildings. Big crowds only necessarily mean popular. What is popular preaching in any given age may not be what is “best.” That is only true when popularity necessarily trumps faithfulness. Sometimes faithful is popular, not always, and these days, perhaps not even very often.
Paul gave us the key concepts for God-honoring preaching in I Corinthians 2:1-5, “And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5 NASB)
- (v.1) Sound preaching is not eloquence or human philosophy.
- (v.2) Sound preaching has one great theme: Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
- (v.3) Sound preaching is proclaimed with a great sense of inadequacy. (Genuine humility and sincerity at the monumental task of proclaiming the Word of God)
- (v.4) Sound preaching is not persuasive words, but a demonstration of the Spirit and power.
- (v.5) Sound preaching leads to faith.
Congregational Puritan Pastor, Richard Sibbes, said it this way, “That age of the church which was most fertile in nice questions, was most barren in religion: for it makes people think religion to be only a matter of wit, in tying and untying of knots; the brains of men given that way are hotter usually than their hearts.” (The Bruised Reed)
“Good” preaching is from the Bible in a straightforward manner. It is Christ-centered. It is humbling to preacher and parishioner. It is active and alive, rooted in faithful action and example of the Holy Spirit’s power in the life of the preacher in the real world. Sound preaching, when planted in the hearts of hearers, produces the fruit of faith.
Pastors and Parishioners alike need desperately to think about sermons. We need more sermons about sermons, more preaching about preaching, more “How to listen to a Sermon” sermons. It’s time the Church think critically about thinking and act seriously about how we act in the world.