On Preaching

J. I. Packer, in the chapter on preaching in his little book Truth and Power, gives us a helpful definition of a sermon: “A sermon is an applicatory declaration, spoken in God’s name and for his praise, in which some part of the written Word of God delivers through the preacher some part of its message about God and godliness in relation to those whom the preacher addresses.” The application a sermon should make is twenty-four fold (though of course not every application can be made in every sermon!). The number twenty-four comes from knowing that there are six types of people in every congregation (unconverted and self-satisfied, needing to be awakened and humbled; concerned and inquiring, wanting to be told what being a Christian today involves; convicted and seeking, needing to be guided directly to Christ; young Christians who need to be built up and led on; mature Christians, aging both physically and spiritually, who need to be constantly encouraged, lest they flag; people in trouble, though moral lapses, circumstantial traumas, losses and crosses, disappointment, depression, and other such afflictions) and at least four types of applications we can make (to the mind, to the will, to our motivating drives, and to our condition).

Good quotes to remember: “Think yourself empty, read yourself full; write yourself clear; pray yourself keen; then into the pulpit, and let yourself go!” (W. H. Griffith Thomas). “It is easy for a minister to prate in the pulpit, and even to speak much good matter; but to preach is not easy – to carry his congregation on his shoulders as it were to heaven; to weep over them, pray for them, deliver truth with a weeping, praying heart; and if a minister has grace to do so now and then, he ought to be very thankful” (Charles Simeon).

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