I’m not a preacher. I’ve wished that I was. I’ve tried to be. But I just don’t seem to have what it takes.
However, I love to listen to good, passionate, expository preaching. And I’m extremely thankful for the opportunity to hear preaching like that every Sunday. Last week, for instance, my pastor preached a single sermon on the book of Haggai. It was great. Do yourself a favor and listen to it here.
That’s a digression, but only a slight one. It hadn’t even occurred to me to mention that sermon when I sat down at the keyboard two minutes ago, but it came to mind because it’s a good example of what I had intended to write about. The original reason for this post (which I’ll move on to now) was to quote something John Piper said about preaching in a sermon last May.
Some of you are familiar with Piper’s description of preaching as “expository exultation.” After defining that phrase in this particular sermon, he proceeds to point out that…
Preaching does not come after worship in the order of the service. Preaching is worship. My job is not done if I only see truth and show it to you. The devil could do that—for his own devious reasons. My job is to see the glory of the truth and to savor it and exult over it as I explain it to you and apply it for you. That’s one of the differences between a lecture and a sermon.
A short time later, he continues with this…
If you are used to a twenty-minute, immediately practical, relaxed talk, the understanding of preaching that I just described doesn’t lead there. I won’t preach twenty minutes but twice that long; I do not aim to be immediately practical but eternally helpful; and the condition of my soul is not relaxed but standing vigilantly on the precipice of eternity speaking to people any of whom this week could go over the edge [emphasis mine].
I love that last statement. I hear in it the spirit of another faithful, hard-working pastor, Richard Baxter, who once said that he preached “as never sure to preach again, and as a dying man to dying men.” I yearn for a day when all churches everywhere are filled with leaders who both shepherd and preach with that kind of passion and urgency.
I shouldn’t stop there, though. I might as well yearn for a day when every Christian, whether male or female, young or old, would burn with passion for Christ. If that were to happen, we might once again be accused of turning the world upside down (Acts 17:6).
PS: You can listen to the entire Piper sermon (which is actually not about preaching, but about John 3:16) here; or, you can watch a video clip of only the aforementioned portion of the sermon below.