The keynote in the mouth of every prophet-preacher, whether in Isaiah’s day or Jesus’ day or our day, is, “Your God reigns!” God is the king of the universe. God is the king of the universe. He has absolute Creator rights over this world and everyone in it. But there is rebellion and mutiny on all sides, and his authority is scorned by millions. So the Lord sends preachers into the world to cry out that God reigns, that he will not suffer his glory to be scorned indefinitely, that he will vindicate his name in great and terrible wrath, but that for now a full and free amnesty is offered to all the rebel subjects who will turn from their rebellion, call on him for mercy, bow before his throne, and swear allegiance and fealty to him forever. The amnesty is signed in the blood of his Son.
John Piper. The Supremacy of God in Preaching. Revised Edition. Baker Books, 2004.26-27.
People are starving for the greatness of God. But most of them would not give this diagnosis of their troubled lives. The majesty of God is an unknown cure. There are far more popular prescriptions on the market, but the benefit of any other remedy is brief and shallow. Preaching that does not have the aroma of God’s greatness may entertain for a season, but it will not touch the hidden cry of the soul: “Show me thy glory!”
John Piper. The Supremacy of God in Preaching. Revised Edition. Baker Books, 2004. 13.
More than ever I believe in preaching as a part of worship in the gathered church. Preaching is worship, and it belongs in the regular worship life of the church no matter the size of the church. In the small church it does not become conversation or “sharing.” In the megachurch it does not become hype and jingles. Preaching is worshiping over the Word of God—the text of Scripture—with explanation and exultation.
John Piper. The Supremacy of God in Preaching. Revised Edition. Baker Books, 2004. 9.
For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:2-5
You know something? I don’t have to preach like anybody else I have ever heard.
I get to make much of God when I proclaim His Word. I get to lift Christ on high and know nothing except him crucified. I get to be totally and utterly dependent on the power of the Holy Spirit.
What a joy it is to preach the passage at hand. What a relief it is that I don’t have to mention the verse once in the sermon, then go on my own diatribe and spit out my own opinions. What heart-filled gladness that I can see the magnificence of God exalted and in falling so short, I would my very best to explain to others what I am seeing.
But oh, how naïve of me: to be called to preach but only preached just a few sermons. Every single little opportunity savored, gracious and humbled to get that one shot to preach the gospel of God—well, that is maybe your one and only shot. You may not be asked back. You might be barred from preaching there ever again. You might not make it back to preach again next Sunday.
But you get another try at it. God’s grace abounds and you get one more chance to love, serve, and feed His flock. You get to swallow your pride and open your heart and mind and let His Spirit work through you.
So, what are you going to do with that one shot?
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; 2 Timothy 4:1-2a