The final part of my talk on Preaching to the Saints, given at the PTS Preachers Conference on Saturday 16th October.
III. How we should preach to the saints
1. Before we preach anything to the saints we first of all need to preach it to ourselves
2. We should preach to the saints because we love them and have prayed for them
The task of the pastor-teacher is to preach the Word, but that is not our only task. It is not even our main task, Acts 6:4. Love the people. Engage in pastoral visitation. Get to know your people and let them see that you care for them. Let your preaching be informed by what you know of your people with all their trials and temptations. But don’t use what you have found out in a pastoral visit as ammunition for Sunday’s sermon. If you do that they won’t open up to you again. The people of God will let you get away with a lot, Sundays when the sermon falls flat etc, if they know that you love them and that you pray for them. Like Paul, may we be able to say, “the love of Christ constrains us”. 2 Cor 5:14.
3. We should seek to be as interesting and engaging as we possibly can
While I have emphasised that we must preach biblical doctrine, I don’t mean that we should serve up unreconstructed dollops of Berkhof. Our preaching should be accessible and engaging. Work out a clear and easy to follow structure. Include stories, anecdotes and illustrations not for their own sake, but to illuminate the truth. Even use humour when appropriate. Unless we are engaging our people so that we keep their attention, we aren’t doing them any good at all. Maintaining eye contact will help. Don’t read your sermon verbatim. Look ‘em in the eye and preach!
4. We need the power of the Holy Spirit to enable us to preach to the saints
In our preaching we must consciously depend upon the work of the Holy Spirit. As Spurgeon ascended the pulpit steps at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, he repeated the words of the creed, “I believe in the Holy Ghost”. It is not enough simply to expound God's Word. If preaching is to do anything, the Holy Spirit must be at work in both preacher and congregation. This is why the New Testament does not see preaching simply in terms of an accurate declaration of the truth, but a Holy Spirit empowered event (1 Corinthians 2:1-5, 1 Thessalonians 1:5, 1 Peter 1:12).
The Spirit's empowering presence enables preachers to proclaim the Lord Jesus with boldness, liberty and life-transforming effectiveness. His presence makes preaching an event where the God of the gospel is encountered in all the fullness of his grace and power.
That is what we need when we preach the Word of God to the people of God.