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Jason A Van Bemmel | Forest Hill, Maryland
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www.foresthillpca.org
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410-809-2209
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Forest Hill Presbyterian Church
Meeting at:
Newport Terrace
23 Newport Dr.
Forest Hill, MD 21050
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Forest Hill Presbyterian Church
2501 Rocks Rd
Forest Hill, Maryland 21050
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Good Preaching: What It Is & How It Helps People
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 6, 2016
Posted by: Forest Hill Presbyterian Church | more..
1,480+ views | 310+ clicks
[Disclaimer: I am not an expert preacher. So many men preach so much better than I do. What is reflected here is what I have learned from the Bible and from the excellent preaching ministries of others. It represents the ideal of how I long to preach and the goal of my preaching ministry.]

So, what really makes for good preaching? Well, simply put: Good preaching seeks to exalt Jesus and present Him to sinners who desperately need Him.

To do this, good preaching needs to be characterized by the following:

1. Good preaching must be faithful to God's Word, to the whole counsel of Scripture. We learn the truth about Jesus only in God's Word and we see the fullness of who Jesus is in the whole of Scripture. Thus, good preaching must be expository- it must seek to expose the meaning of the Bible plainly and clearly for the hearers.

I believe the best method of doing this is to systematically work your way through books of the Bible, preaching section-by-section and verse-by-verse. This keeps a preacher from cherry-picking his favorite passages and thus presenting a distorted version of Christ, a Christ who reflects the image of the preacher more than truly being the express image of God.

Among preachers, certain texts are well-known favorites and sometimes we will say, "That'll preach!" Well, the whole of the Bible will preach. It is all God's Word and it all reveals Christ. Sometimes we have to work harder to make the meaning of a passage clear and to exalt Christ through it, but most of the difficulty we encounter is in our own hearts and minds and not due to any fault in the text itself, which is perfect.

2. Good preaching must be Christ-centered and Gospel-driven. I've already touched on this, but the goal in every sermon should be to magnify Christ and to proclaim the good news of His salvation. Yet the Bible is varied and complex, and so our preaching should not be simplistic or reductionistic.

This can be most challenging when preaching more ethical texts of Scripture. For example, later this year, I plan (Lord willing) to preach through the Sermon on the Mount, which has much to say about practical Biblical ethics. The danger with an ethical text is either to minimize the ethics and skim over them to get to the good news of forgiveness and salvation or else to focus exclusively on the duty required of us, making the passages merely moralistic. The truly Christ-centered and Gospel-driven way to preach such passages is to focus on how Christ is the fulfillment of the moral law and how He empowers us to faithful obedience by His grace through the power of the Holy Spirit. In other words, ethical passages show us more about the perfect character of Jesus and also call us to a dependence upon His strength to enable us to obey.

3. Good preaching is clear and understandable. Scholarly-minded pastors can be tempted to use the sermon as an opportunity to show off how much they know. All pastors can fall into the trap of only studying a passage until its meaning is clear to us and then not going the rest of the way toward making the meaning clear to our congregation.

I understand both of these temptations: If we're going to do the hard work of studying the original Greek and Hebrew and reading the commentaries and scholars, shouldn't we be able to give the congregation some taste of our efforts? On the other wise of the equation, pastors are busy people. We are running from one ministry opportunity to another, and sermon preparation time can often suffer. Once we understand a passage well enough, isn't that good enough? Do we really have to keep working to make the meaning clear to others? Isn't that their problem?

Well, as understandable as these temptations are, we must resist and keep laboring until the meaning of the passage is clear not only to those without a seminary degree but also to those who did not even finish high school. Our call is to feed the sheep and we must strive to make our message clear and the food digestible. I don't mean that we should water down God's Word or dumb down the riches of the Gospel, but the Gospel is Good News for all and an effective herald makes the meaning clear to all.

4. Good preaching should be passionate and should call for a response. Pastors are called to preach, not to deliver an academic lecture. We are exalting Christ and proclaiming His Gospel, not explaining how to roast a chicken or change a tire. . .

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