I love listening to preaching. As I listen to a sermon, I find myself not only listening to the actual sermon, but also mining the preacher himself and the whole idea of preaching for gems that can help me think through preaching and do it better myself.
During a sermon a few weeks ago something occurred to me that I had not thought of before. Now, I’m almost certain this is not an original thought with me. I’m sure the more I read about preaching, I’ll discover that someone has already said such a thing and in a much better way. But I’ll share it anyway with the hopes that it might help at least one person.
When we preach, we need to deliver at the very least, two things:
- Awesome Truth
- Action Takeaway
The first one goes without saying, right? The whole essence of preaching is the delivery of God’s awesome truth that He has prepared and we are privileged to be, as John MacArthur has said, the waiter who brings out the meal to God’s people. The truth is awesome. We should never deliver it any other way. That means both not boring people with God’s Word, but also not delivering it in a way that communicates God’s Word needs our personality, jokes, illustrations and sermon points to make it awesome. Once, when MLK was preaching (sermon here), a congregant can be heard on the recording yelling out, “Make it plain!!” This is exactly what we ought to do as preachers. Make God’s Word plain. Unleash the lion from the cage, as Charles Spurgeon used to say. It needs no awesome-ness infused into it. God’s Word is awesome truth! Let it out, get out of the way and it will do it’s work and not return void.
However, if we only present awesome truth and never include in our preaching a call to application, we leave people with head knowledge and no way to connect it to how they live their lives during the week. We risk setting up our hearers for the temptation to think that they are growing disciples of Christ because they have taken in more information. Jesus not only “taught them” but he also told them to “follow Him”. Disciples of Jesus today not only need to hear awesome truth from God’s word, but they also need action to takeaway with them. All truth and no takeaway, can make slow growing intellectuals. All action and no truth can create moralistic unbelievers, busy at good works, but falsely assured of their salvation.
I’m thankful that our Pastor at our local church has been doing both of these. I praise God for His work.