Spirit-filled Preaching

Discussion in 'Preaching' started by Vladimir, May 21, 2013.

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  1. Vladimir

    Vladimir Puritan Board Freshman

    Dear pastors and pastoral candidates,

    Please share your experience and take on the work of the Spirit in your preaching. I am trying to marry the concept of depending on the Holy Spirit to speak through you like through stones and mules with the need of preparation.
    When I say 'preparation', I do not mean studying the Word and praying, I mean specifically making notes and planning the sermon.

    Please forgive me for asking this out of curiosity. I have mainly met pastors who prepared their sermons like I would a marketing presentation, and I know that even Spurgeon did prepare for his. But where is the dependency on the Holy Spirit?
  2. reaganmarsh

    reaganmarsh Puritan Board Senior

    Perhaps you might clarify what you mean in your closing statements -- how you see a marketing presentation's preparation as similar (or distinct from) to a sermon's preparation? Certainly there are differing environments and tools (my Study and commentaries vs. an office and spreadsheets, perhaps). But surely both take into consideration the "audience" and God's glory in our best efforts.

    Since all spheres of a Christian's life are under the authority of God, all our work is to be holy unto the Lord, and we are dependent upon the Spirit's assitance to do all to the glory of God, whether in making a sales presentation, a phone call, or preparing a sermon, I'm not certain I've understood the particular distinction you have in mind. How is one more or less dependant upon the Spirit?
  3. Vladimir

    Vladimir Puritan Board Freshman

    Dear Rev. Marsh,

    I am sorry for not being clear in this. What I meant was, while we are dependent on our Lord every second of every hour in everything, the Scripture does make extraordinary promises regarding preaching and prophecying: "And I have put my words in thy mouth" (Isaiah 51:16), "Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth" (Jeremiah 1:9), and, most of all: "Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer: for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist." (Luke 21:14-15).

    When I prepare a presentation, I see to Him to enable me to glorify and bring honor to Him in that presentation also, as in every part of my job, but prophecying and preaching I believe to be something else. Is preparation (employing public speaking techniques, training the voice, thinking up illustrations, connecting parts of the sermon, timing it) important?
  4. reaganmarsh

    reaganmarsh Puritan Board Senior

    Ah, now I see. Yes, absolutely -- they matter. There is certainly something to prayerfully considering how best to present a particular preaching point. Just like a cook doesn't put every available ingredient into a dish "just since it's there," so also a preacher will not pull out every possible point from a passage, but will preach what is most edifying to his particular congregation at that time. For example, in preaching Philippians 2 (the Christ-hymn), we certainly want to dwell on te exalted Lord. However, the point that Paul makes there -- albeit in amazingly beautiful form -- is that our humility toward one another is key in both our interactions in the church and in how we undergo suffering. When preaching through Philippians 2 years ago, as I prayed about what our church needed to hear, it seemed to be the Spirit's leading that I preach 2 sermons from that passage: 1 on humility in imitation of Christ, and 1 on Christology. Each was prepared in similar format (ie, exegetical work in Greek, commentary & background/reference works consulted, applications and illustrations appropriate for our context selected). And I beliee that in each sermon, the Scripture itself set the agenda and the particular preaching points. However, each sermon was unique in both format and content/application. If I would preach them again here in Albany, they would be much the same. Were I to preach them in Pensacola at our home church, the exposition would remain much the same, but I would select different illustrations, and would adapt the applications to suit a more suburban context, seeking the mind and assistance of the Spirit in it all. Ultimately the best of my efforts in the pulpit are foolishness, yet God is pleased in the exercise of his power to save those who believe.

    I believe preparation is quite important. While I have tweaked my method of preaching notes (early on I wouldn't take anything more than a post-it note into the pulpit, while for the last several years I have been writing full manuscripts), it is precisely because God can and does lead us in the study, and when I uncover a gem in the Scriptures, I want to present it as helpfully and clearly as possible to my people. I forget things. Notes, the manuscript, highlighting on the page, etc. are critical for this preacher -- otherwise it will be me reasoning from my own wisdom and chasing a rabbit! I do not see hard thinking and careful preparation as being at odds with dependence upon the Spirit.

    I forget who this was, but in years past, a group of theological students were ridiculing a professor for his preparation habits. They claimed that more spiritual power came from 10 minutes on their knees before God, than 10 hours over their books. He replied, "What?! Than 10 hours over your books, on your knees?!"

    Quite so.

    Does this begin to address your question better? I hope to be helpful, not combative.
  5. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    The Book of Church Order of the denomination of which I am a member states:

    " Preaching requires much study, meditation, and prayer, and ministers should prepare their sermons with care, and not indulge themselves in loose, extemporary harangues, nor serve God with that which costs them naught. "
    PCA BCO 53-3.

    I believe it provides sound advice to the pastor, and seems to directly answer your question.
  6. Vladimir

    Vladimir Puritan Board Freshman

    Thank you, this is very interesting. It does sound very wise to look to Him to aid your preaching not only in the pulpit, but from the point when you begin preparing for a sermon. Just as we do with everything else.
    I may have been under the false impression about preaching.
  7. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    I like that last part. Of course, that applies to just about everything doesn't it. Wouldn't we want this to be true of every vocation?
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