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Preaching With Power

Spurgeon-Preaching
Preaching-With-Power


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For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction (1 Thessalonians 1:4-5).

Why do some words stick with you and others don't? Why do some conversations remain lucid in our memories for our entire lives, while others fade away within a few short weeks?

And what about in the church? Perhaps you have experienced it. A sermon that brings the truth home so clearly, brings true conviction, and leaves a mark on you. And perhaps you have experienced its inverse. Preaching that rattles on and on, but with seemingly no effect, merely to be endured. I have experienced both of these sermons, and those both as a hearer and as a preacher. And I must say it is deeply mysterious to me. There is something going on in preaching the gospel, or even sharing it individually, that is enigmatic. Many a capitalist would love to get their hands on the secret and package it in a book titled – 10 easy steps to preach with power and save souls. But alas, it wouldn't work. You can't catch lightning and put it in a bottle.

Or to go with Jesus' image, the wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes (John 3:8). That last quote is from Jesus' discourse with Nicodemus on the need to be born again. And if you remember that exchange, you will recall that while Jesus tells Nicodemus what must happen in his life to be saved, he doesn't give him a clear path to make it happen on his own. There were no step-by-step instructions. The ball wasn't in the man's court. You must be born again. You must be born of water and the Spirit. Things from the outside must happen to you, Jesus essentially says.

And so back to preaching. Why do two people hear the same sermon, and one is convicted and the other is bored? Why are some Sunday services clearly more powerful and memorable than others? The answer my friend is blowing in the wind. Jesus used that image to describe the work of the Holy Spirit. With Spirit and wind sharing the same Greek word – pneuma. Jesus was saying – God must choose to work. The Spirit blows where He wishes. We are literally at the mercy of God with these things. And as Paul encouraged the Thessalonians, they can know that God has chosen them and has loved them. Why? Because when they heard Paul's sermon it wasn't mere words – it was powerful, it brought conviction, it was from the Holy Spirit.

And so that is the question that we must ask ourselves. Have we heard the gospel with that kind of power? Has the Spirit of God brought conviction to our souls through the preaching of the gospel? And if that feels like something that was true in the past but not so much in the present, then we again should ask the Lord to work afresh in our hearts. How you respond to the gospel today is a matter of life and death importance. When brought before the presence of the Lord, there will be no resting on past decisions and commitments, but only a present resting on Christ by faith.

And as we minister to others as a church, both in our preaching ministry Sunday by Sunday, and throughout the week in many other ways, we need to look again and again to the Lord. It is only by His power that we can do anything of lasting value. "Apart from me you can do nothing", Jesus said. Or as we read in Zechariah, "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts" (Zechariah 4:6). If we want to make a true, gospel impact in the world it will only happen by the power of the Holy Spirit. If we want any conversation to count, any sermon to land, any class to be blessed, anything at all of eternal value to be accomplished it must be done by the Lord himself. We depend on Him. Like Eljiah, we can build the altar, we can gather the wood, but only the LORD God of Israel can bring the fire.

So, in all things, humble yourself before God, and look to Him for the work to be done. We need him for everything: to receive the gospel, to grow in godliness, to serve one another, to advance the gospel, it is all on God. As the apostle Peter said, "whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves in the strength that God supplies – in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To Him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen" (1 Peter 4:11). 

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Comments 1

Guest - Marshae

(website) on Saturday, 22 October 2022 05:53

Hey Ross,

Was looking for blogs in my niche, happy I came across this. Thanks for sharing this, as you shared, the biggest take away I received, was if you want God's power to be on us when preaching or teaching, there is no escaping having a relationship with Him. Agree with you that there is no step by step template and I believe as we spend time with God, He shows us exactly how to use what He placed in us to move on His people hearts as they listen to the Word that comes forth. It's a HUGE learning process, an adventure with Him. I think its only by His gift of Grace, and spending time in His Word, in Worship, Praying etc, we get better and better at it, but its very easy to feel when someone is not preaching from the presence of God. Thank you for sharing. God bless you.

Hey Ross, Was looking for blogs in my niche, happy I came across this. Thanks for sharing this, as you shared, the biggest take away I received, was if you want God's power to be on us when preaching or teaching, there is no escaping having a relationship with Him. Agree with you that there is no step by step template and I believe as we spend time with God, He shows us exactly how to use what He placed in us to move on His people hearts as they listen to the Word that comes forth. It's a HUGE learning process, an adventure with Him. I think its only by His gift of Grace, and spending time in His Word, in Worship, Praying etc, we get better and better at it, but its very easy to feel when someone is not preaching from the presence of God. Thank you for sharing. God bless you.
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Wednesday, 24 April 2024