Friday, August 27, 2010

How to Be An Effective Preacher: Be Passionately Thrilled by the Bible

I think everyone who is currently in a regular preaching ministry and everyone who aspires to serve God's people by preaching His Word should listen to this clip repeatedly. A transcript of a relevant portion (1:54 to 3:03) is below.

"I think the way I became a preacher was by being passionately thrilled by what I was seeing in the Bible in seminary. Passionately thrilled! When Philippians began to open to me, Galatians opened to me, Romans opened to me, the Sermon on the Mount opened to me in classes on exegesis -- not homiletics but exegesis -- everything in me was feeling, 'I want to say this to somebody! I want to find a way to say this! Because this is awesome! This is incredible!'

"So preachers today that go everywhere but the Bible to find something interesting or something scintillating and passionate -- I don't get it! I don't get that at all! Because I have to work hard to leave the Bible and go somewhere to find an illustration because everything here is just blowing me away. And it's that sense of being blown away by what's here -- by the God that's here and the Christ's that's here and the Gospel that's here and the Spirit that's here and the life that's here -- being blown away by this, you just kinda say, 'That's gotta get out. That's gotta get out.' ...

"I don't think there's much you can do to become a preacher except: (1) know your Bible and (2) be unbelievably excited about what's there, and (3) love people a lot."

As I listen to this, everything in me says, "YES!!! YES!!!" This is how a preacher that honors God is made, because God is honored when He is beheld and marveled at! And marveled at to such a degree that His glory compels praise.

I will not be an effective preacher -- one that plumbs and mines the depths of God's Word to feed the people on the meaty delicacies of the voice of their Shepherd -- if I am not blown away by the vision of an all-glorious, all-satisfying, high and lofty and exalted and lifted up God as is revealed in His Word. I must be affected -- thrilled! -- by God's own magnificent presentation of Himself, and worship over that in my study so that I can worship over that as I'm preaching. Because it is only as the preacher worships over the Word as he proclaims it that the people will worship over the Word as they hear it proclaimed.

This is just so huge! I love what Piper says about being thrilled in his exegesis classes and not his homiletics classes. You know what that shouts out to me? You can't fabricate a preacher. Preachers are not man-made. You can't study really hard to become a preacher. No matter how good a communicator you are, how clever you can turn a phrase, how good your outline is, or how white your teeth are, God and God alone makes preachers. When Christ ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives and He gave gifts to men. And He gave some as pastors and teachers (Eph 4:8, 11). Pastors and teachers are Christ's divinely-made gifts to His Church. They are not men who thought they could turn a phrase well and didn't mind the idea of talking for a living and so decided to take up preaching.

And the implications of that are wildly significant! It means that the Church must depend on Christ for the provision of these men. Do you want to be a preacher? I do. But all I can do is prayerfully, with fear and trembling, get on my face before the Lord Jesus and beg Him to open my eyes to behold wondrous things from the truth of His Word, and to affect me rightly with them, that I might be able to properly proclaim the excellencies of Him that called me out of darkness into His marvelous light (1Pet 2:9). You see? I am at His mercy to make me a preacher. And if He doesn't, I am not called to the ministry -- no matter how much I really think I am called, no matter how much I really want to preach and teach and shepherd and counsel and lead, and no matter how much passion I can muster up for those tasks.

"Preacher" is not merely a title. It is an identity. A God-given identity.

And if God hasn't granted that identity to you -- if He hasn't given you the vision to be blown away, to be passionately thrilled by what He's revealed of Himself in the Bible (and not the television, the newspaper, and the depraved human culture!) -- then for Christ's sake stay out of the pulpit! Don't torture the people of God by trying to give to them out of your own resources that which only Christ can give out of His.

Know your Bible, be unbelievably excited about what's there, and love people a lot. And trust Christ to provide all three by grace.


Daryl said...


We've been in contact through Pyro and a couple other places before.

I think you probably recognize my name.

Anyways...great post. Great great post.

I'm telling you this, simply because it's late, my wife, who is out, knows this about me already, but when I put off saying something out loud...well you know. It tends to go away.

Long intro. Here's the point.

I'm there. I'm right there. But I read my Bible so little.I pray so little.
I will plan my time to do more of both. I will. I must.
I've preached once (OK twice, essentially the same sermon in 2 different places)and loved it. Preaching is what grabs me.
I dunno if I'll ever do it again. But I want to.
It brings me to tears to write this even.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. Bless you in your studies in seminary as you prepare to preach.

Mike Riccardi said...


Of course I recognize you. :-)

I want to thank you for your comment, and for the emotion that comes with it. These are wonderful longings to have, my friend. The greatest longings one can have.

And yet I understand the frustration. The presence of sin that remains always seeks to cloud our vision so that incomparably glorious and beautiful things look paltry and inconsequential. Wretched men that we are! Yet Jesus will save us from the body of this death.

Live now in the grace of that moment (1Pet 1:13), knowing that there is no condemnation for you in Christ Jesus, and thus knowing that your reading and praying aren't performance evaluations, but privileges. Gifts. Graces of the loftiest sort. In other words, fix your eyes on Jesus (Heb 12:2), and beholding the glory of the Lord you will be transformed into that same image, step by step (2Cor 3:18).