June 22, 2024

The ministry of prayer leads us to the written Word of God. Both prayer and the written Word of God are directed to vigorous, urgent, life-changing preaching. These three, prayer, the written Word of God or the Bible, and preaching, are the chief means in our spiritual development. We now discuss what vigorous, urgent, life-changing preaching is.

First of all, the preaching that we need for our spiritual development is one that is vigorous. We mean by this that this preaching is full of energy because the preacher has put his whole mind and soul to it. It has a force. It has the anointing of the Spirit of God.

This does not mean that the preacher has to shout or has to have a big, resonating voice. It does not mean that he displays all kinds of gestures. He may speak quietly and slowly and even perhaps read from a prepared piece, but we can notice and feel that his words have power. From where does this power or energy come?

It comes from a deep conviction that he has been appointed by God to declare his works. It comes from a long time of prayer and study over the Bible. Study and prayer: these go together. If he merely studies the Word of God he may be a Bible scholar, an exegete, a Bible interpreter, but not a vigorous preacher. He prays as he studies the Word of God. He converses with God over his written Word.

This kind of preaching is in contrast to what we hear today in our pulpits. Preachers nowadays usually give an explanation of a passage of scripture or an event. They may engage in expository preaching which is a word by word explanation of a Bible passage. But it is all explanation. It is not vigorous preaching of the wonderful works of God. Sometimes the feeling suggested is that the preacher is detached from his explanation. It is as if he wants to say, “This is my explanation of this passage and this is how I think you should apply it. Now take it or leave it.”

Secondly, the preaching that we need today is one that is urgent. The action needed is something that cannot be postponed. It will not wait for tomorrow or the following week. It is an action that is going to be done now, not later, here, not yonder.

The matter is so important that it is to be addressed to now. It requires immediate action. And the listeners sense this urgency.

Preaching nowadays in general does not have this sense of urgency. Because it is an explanation of a passage or of a principle or method to do to improve one’s life, the action called for is one that can wait until an opportunity presents itself where the principle or method can be applied. This is later.

In contrast, genuine preaching is urgent. Do it now, or you will miss the whole show.

Thirdly, the preaching that we need today is one that is life-changing. It is not just mind-changing, a change of opinion, or a change of character among the listeners. It changes the life of the listeners by just their listening. They do not have to go out of the church or auditorium in order to implement something that the preacher told them to do. By the very fact that they are listening to this sermon, their lives are changed, not just for the better, but changed from one level of life to another, from the level of human life to the level of divine life, or from one degree of divine life to another.

And how is this done? By the preacher proclaiming the wonderful works of God among the listeners.

He does not provide the listeners with a list of things to do to improve their lives. Instead he tells them what God has done to their lives. And when they listen and if the Spirit so moves them, they believe in what the preacher says, then their lives are changed. The wonderful works of God are made actual in their lives there and then. If the preacher tells them that God saved them in Christ by his cross and resurrection and they believe, there and then this salvation becomes theirs, without their coming forward to profess publicly that they receive Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior.

Today’s preaching usually does not instantly change the lives of the listeners. It expects that the listeners leave the church first and do what the preacher tells them in his sermon to do. For example, after listening to a sermon on God’s commandment, parents leave the church to love their children. Children leave to obey their parents at home.

Such a sermon is not preaching. It is an advice on how parents are to love their children and how children are to love their parents. It is not genuine preaching.

If you say that you cannot find this kind of preaching in your churches, go to the Internet. There is a lot of vigorous, urgent, life-changing sermons in the Internet. Here is a good example from the prince of preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, although it is read by a contemporary speaker, not Spurgeon himself, because his voice was not recorded during the time when he gave his sermons. This particular sermon is entitled “The Best of Masters.” Click the word “Play” after the title “The Best of Masters”. Here is the URL of that sample http://tinyurl.com/thebestofmasters Click that URL to listen to the sermon.