Preaching is indeed a paradoxical exercise. Preaching is not speech-making, but it requires a preacher to speak publicly. Preaching is not entertainment, but nothing is more enjoyable than an authentic preaching moment. Preaching is only effective when it is entirely of God, but it requires a willing hardworking human counterpart for its delivery. Only the Holy Spirit can truly accomplish the goal of preaching and yet He calls us, mere broken vessels which only get in the way, to be His pulpit. Our responsibility, therefore, is to be obedient to the call of God, to speak the truth in weakness, and to depend entirely on the Spirit’s power. We must die to ourselves, recognizing that we contribute nothing but an obedient voice that seeks to speak the whole Word of God.
Does this mean that we exert no effort? Can we therefore afford to be lazy, trusting in God to do what God does in spite of us? Absolutely not! To the contrary, we work harder than before, though we recognize that it is not we but the grace of God at work in us (1 Corinthians 15:10). We stop preparing sermons that tantalize so that we can prepare sermons that speak the truth. We prayerfully endeavour to discern the will and the Word of God, trusting in the leading of the Holy Spirit who gives us the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:13-16). And, when we step into the pulpit, we recognize before God and His congregation that we, in and of ourselves, are only in the way, standing as an obstacle between God’s Word and God’s people. Therefore, we must die to ourselves, refusing to seek our own glory, so that God might speak powerfully through us for the building up of His Church to His own glory.
In this blog series, we shall now transition to make an effort to sketch out what the hard work of preaching preparation and delivery looks like. We shall explore the way that we might be faithful preachers who do all that we can to preach strong powerful sermons, recognizing all the while that it is not us who preach excellent sermons but the Holy Spirit who speaks through us with the full power of God.