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Preaching in the Power of the Holy Spirit

3 ways to understand the Spirit’s role in preaching.

Average Rating:  [see ratings/reviews]Preaching in the Power of the Holy Spirit

There are five minutes to go before the service starts and the room is packed. You look through your notes, but they suddenly don't seem to make any sense. You find a pen and a blank page, but your mind seems to be following suit. It's a long preaching slot, and a theologically dense passage. And now its time to walk to the front.

The Bible is clear about the Spirit of God being essential to our preaching, such that each time a sermon is preached, it is a live Spirit-dependent event.

Someone is praying for you. You willingly and gladly receive their prayers, but each petition reminds you of the ever-growing weight of responsibility on your shoulders. Yes, there are people here giving church one last chance before they walk away from faith for good. There are those here because their spouses or partners have dragged them along to hear a clear gospel message. As this earnest intercessor carries on, you blink to survey the gathering congregation. Some are older, maybe coming faithfully for decades. Some are younger, with a whole lifetime ahead of them to serve God. Some are in wheelchairs. Some are dependent on the simultaneous sign language translation. There are probably people there who are illiterate, as well as those with doctorates. Some may be going through marriage breakdown, or facing significant medical challenges. This sermon may be the last opportunity to give them what they need to carry on. If you were nervous before then this prayer has made things ten times worse.

I was in this situation a few weeks ago. In my case, I had the additional bombshell dropped by my personal prayer warrior, that following my talk—which would be live streamed around the country—there would be a discussion on a compassionate and orthodox approach to same-sex attraction. Never before had I felt so dependant on the power of the Holy Spirit in my preaching.

The stakes of our preaching

Preaching opportunities, whatever the circumstances, length, or audience numbers, can carry more significance in the lives of people listening than we realize. We never know whether next Sunday morning will be the one where a friend or neighbour will finally take up the offer of turning up to explore Christianity. We never know whether this Sunday will be the tipping point for a young person who is wrestling with their parents about whether they need to keep coming to church with them. We can never be sure if this is the week that someone in your church will be receiving life changing news about their work, health, or family. We never know whether this will wind up being the last sermon a person hears in this life. I'm reminded of the Apostle Paul's question "And who is equal to such a task?" 2 Corinthians 2:16

I once caught a public bus very late at night and the bus driver and I were the only ones on the vehicle that usually was filled with 50 people or more. As we struck up a conversation, I asked him how he felt about the weight of responsibility of the safety of so many people's lives. He looked at me for a second and said, "I never, ever, think about it." I don't think it was because he didn't care; I had seen him drive that bus carefully many times before. I think it was because it was too scary to confront the fact that he was responsible for the life and death of thousands of passengers on a daily basis.

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Austin NIne

August 14, 2017  9:58pm

Preaching/teaching to me is the embarkation of experience. That is why I don't get anything out of young people preaching. They have not had time to gain experience of what they are talking about. I was thinking back over the years and realised that when it came to preaching, older men came into view. Ones who had put into practice what they were saying before they said it. Ones who exhibited character in their preaching. Ones who did not give the impression they knew it all. Ones who did not give the impression this is the word of the Lord so listen. In the New Testament, preaching had a limited topic list. We preach Christ and him crucified. The longer topic list was confined to making disciples of those who believed. The lack of anointing happens because we make something out of what we are saying that is not there. The anointing happens because we convey truths the Holy Spirit wishes to convey, not what we want to convey. Powerful preaching is about his word, not ours.

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David Gaines

August 14, 2017  9:42am

This article is an excellent, biblically sound proclamation of the work of the Spirit of God in the preaching moments we as pastors are confronted with each week. However, I would add one major point that was assumed but not specifically stated, that is, the power of the Spirit of God is engaged in the preaching of the Word of God. The Spirit of God empowers Christ-centered, contextually coherent, biblically sound teaching and preaching which is consistent with the message of God's Word. So preachers are authorized to speak and proclaim what God has said, and no more or less. He does not empower the preacher to use His Word as a platform for speaking about things unrelated to the text, eisegesis. Thank you for your work, and continued blessings in Christ Jesus our Lord!

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Judy H

August 14, 2017  9:29am

This article illuminates the work of the Spirit in all aspects of preaching. It reminds us that prayer and preparation to hear God's voice is essential in the preparation and sharing of the Word. I also find that worship and the choice of songs prepare the hearts of the audience to participate in hearing and encouraging the work of the Spirit. It is indeed a privilege and a responsibility to share the Word with others.

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