proclamation of the Word of God
It has been my experience that the proclamation of the Word of God has to come from a place of spiritual preparedness on the part of the person that is making the proclamation. This is not to say that a person that is not spiritually led or prepared cannot proclaim the Word of God. Paul makes that fact abundantly clear in his epistle to the Philippians. He writes, “It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill.” He adds, “But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached.” (Phil. 1: 15 & 18, NIV)
The Word can be proclaimed from many vessels, but I consider that Spurgeon is directing us toward a place that I have come to in the course of many years of ministry. The first person I preach to is myself. That is my spiritual preparedness is of the utmost importance. Today we have people who are proclaiming the Word of God but messaging it in a manner that carries no personal accountability. The message is purposed not to offend, not to ruffle any feathers. That method will fill the pews, but it will not lead to a lasting transformation. Meyer’s methodology is sound in that we want the message to be heard and contextualized in the culture of the hearer.
Our proclamation, therefore, will come from our theology. This is why then we must have a robust and defensible definition of theology. Dr. Millard Erickson gives this, “The discipline that strives to give a coherent statement of the doctrines of the Christian faith, based primarily on the Scriptures, placed in the context of culture in general. Worded in a contemporary idiom and related to issues of life.” (Erickson, p. 8) When we work from only human understanding, experience or feelings, we are not preaching Christ. We may inspire, we may encourage, but the message of Christ is to be transformational. This transformation is only accomplished by exposure to the light and living water which is Holy Spirit. We can see in the ministry of Christ many followed Him.
Nevertheless, when He sat them down and explained or shared His theology the Bible is clear, many walked away. Jesus did not preach anger, criticism nor did He proclaim a life of ease and cavalier behavior. No, He shared that there is a cost, that the path is narrow, but the reward is immeasurable. To that end, we who have accepted the call must be spiritually prepared and educationally sound in order to give our best to Christ and humanity.
Erickson, Millard J. Christian Theology. Grand Rapids: Baker Academics, 2013.
Reply to Katrina
Each in their own way, Spurgeon and Meyer both recognize the primary importance of the spiritual-preparedness of the preacher. In your thread, relate what you have learned about the importance of person and spiritual-preparedness in your own preaching ministry. Also explain the balance between academic, expository preparation versus solely spirit-let (or experientially-led) preparation.
During the Chaplain Formation Practicum (CHPL 598), I became acutely aware that my spiritual preparedness was not where it should be. I don’t think that it was arrogance. It felt more like utter ignorance. I grew up in church, accepted Christ as my Savior at a young age, stayed on track for the most part, strayed a few times, but I came back. I knew that my Bible knowledge was weak, but I thought that I just needed to read my Bible more. However, when we started reading Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald S. Whitney, my whole perspective changed drastically. I had never read a book on the spiritual disciplines before, and it humbled me to my core. There was so much that I needed to change, so much that I needed to start doing, so much that I felt so ashamed that I was so ignorant of before. It was a huge wake up call for me. My spiritual preparedness for the ministry that God has for me had not reached full steam until I fully understood what I must do to be a spiritual leader. I wish that I could say that it did not intimidate me to the point that in tears I asked God if He was sure that he wanted ME to do this ministry, but it did. After I surrendered to God’s plan for me initially, I had been full of enthusiasm and energy. I was growing and learning and academically sound, but I did not fully grasp the spiritual requirements of it until this book vividly showed me my current state and HOW I needed to grow.
I feel that these two books by Charles H. Spurgeon and Rev. F. B. Meyer both gave me a chance to view sermon preparation from two different angles much the same as my academic verses my spiritual preparedness. Spurgeon’s book felt like I was reading a very proper sermon. With statements such as “Brethren, we are not alone. Legions of angels are all around us,” and “As to the unbelieving business, my brethren, I bear my witness that the preaching of the gospel confronts it well,” his text conveys eloquence. However, it is verbose, and I found it a challenge to read. There was so much content packed in that I had to continuously stop and re-read what I had just read. Therefore, Spurgeon’s book seemed very academically oriented.
It definitely conveyed spiritual truths, but due to the challenge of reading it, I did not grasp the spiritual as readily. F.B. Meyer’s book, by comparison, I found much easier to follow. For example, when listing the advantages of expository preaching, Meyer uses simple and straightforward sentences such as “It saves the preacher from getting into ruts,” and “Continuous exposition compels the preacher to handle big themes.” What I LOVED about Meyer’s book, however, were the sermon examples at the end of the chapters! The beginning of the chapter would address a particular topic which would then be eloquently demonstrated in the example at the end. His examples used a variety of analogies and languages and followed the persuasive elements format of explanation, illustration, argumentation, and application that we learned about in our text. The combination of readability and example resonated with me and encouraged me spiritually and academically. This mirrors the same balance that a well-structured sermon should have.
Using only a Spirit-led preparation for a sermon can get a preacher into a rough spot. As Meyer noted, there are always people in the congregation who have committed indiscretions or faults who may think that the pastor is “holding them up before the congregation for criticism and reproof.” Expository preaching helps the preacher to understand the Bible better, and, therefore, relay it to the congregation better. Expository preaching still involves the Holy Spirit’s leading to help the pastor explain, illustrate and apply the text. It is a more well-rounded and proven method for presenting the gospel that steers clear of the pitfalls that can be stumbled on in sermon preparation.
McDill, Wayne. 12 Essential Skills for Great Preaching. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group,
Meyer, F. B. Expository Preaching: Plans and Methods. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock
Spurgeon, Charles H. An All-Around Ministry: Addresses to Ministers and Students. United
States of America: Ichthus Publications, 2014.
Whitney, Donald S. Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. Colorado Springs, CO:
 Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2014).
 Charles H. Spurgeon, An All-Around Ministry: Addresses to Ministers and Students (United States of America: Ichthus Publications, 2014), 66.
 Ibid., 82.
 F. B. Meyer, Expository Preaching: Plans and Methods (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2001), 49.
 Ibid., 51.
 Wayne McDill, 12 Essential Skills for Great Preaching (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2006), 124-136.
 Meyer, Expository Preaching, 53.
 Ibid., 49-62.