I love preaching. Baptists love preaching. It is an art form that has been around for thousands of years. John the Baptist preached, “repent ye.” Christ preached, “the kingdom of Heaven.” There are thousands of examples of preachers to read and study. Hundreds of books about preaching have been published, and thousands of sermons themselves have been published. Now, you can read, listen, and even view many of them on your computer right over the Internet – apostolic sermons, Holy Ghost sermons, Pentecostal sermons, good sermons, bad sermons, Calvinist sermons, Pelagian sermons, Arminian sermons, corn-shucking sermons – they’re all out there and they have been preached for hundreds of years. You can subscribe to periodicals and websites to be able to find resources to help you prepare your sermons. OR, you can just copy great sermons. Copy Spurgeon (the prince of preachers), copy Maclaren, copy Lloyd-Jones, copy Warren, copy anybody! Just don’t waste your precious time working at something that has already been superbly done by someone else!
What should I preach? In my quick scan through the Bible I found four instances where the Bible addresses this question directly. There are many examples of preaching, but only these four tell us particularly what to preach.
Jonah 3:2 Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.
Matthew 10:27 What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.
Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
2 Timothy 4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
Now, to me, it has become obvious that we are to preach just one thing. I believe all these texts are summed up in the last one: Preach the Word. The verb is “preach.” The object of the verb is “the Word.” What are we to preach? The Word.
I’ve heard many sermons. I’ve read many sermons. And the ones that are the most edifying and most convicting are those that come from the Word. Much of today’s preaching is not biblical. It’s spiritual. It’s motivating. It’s captivating. It uses Bible verses, but it’s not biblical. Many preachers think that they should find something to preach to their people (or they already have something they want to preach) and then they prepare a message to deliver. I propose we call these “spiritually motivating speeches.” I’m jealous of the terms preaching and sermon. Please, don’t tell me you’re preaching if it isn’t coming from God’s Word (and don’t try to skate by, by telling me, “well, it’s in the Bible somewhere!”). Fundamentalism is infused with many dynamic speakers who can turn a phrase eloquently. They’ll even claim that they despise the wisdom of this world and espouse the “foolishness of preaching.” But it’s been a long time since they preached any sermons. They have motivated people on spiritual topics, but they haven’t really preached a sermon in years.
Biblical preaching is preaching of the Word! Preachers, start with the Word. Don’t start with your ideas, start with the Word. Study the Word. Explain the Word. Elaborate on the Word. Illustrate the Word. Apply the Word. ~~ Preach the Word.
Let’s hear more preaching and fewer spiritually motivating speeches.