Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Preacher's Task

I have been reminding myself of the vital necessity of proclaiming God's Word, not my word. Here is a quote that I have found helpful.
“Your task [as a preacher] is not to send people away from church saying, ‘That was a lovely sermon’ or ‘What an eloquent appeal!’ The one question is: Did they, or did they not, meet God today?
There will always be some who have no desire for that, some who rather than be confronted with the living Christ would actually prefer what G. K. Chesterton described as ‘one solid and polished cataract of platitudes flowing forever and ever.’ But when St. Peter finished his first great sermon in Jerusalem, reported in the book of Acts, I do not read that ‘when they heard this, they were intrigued by his eloquence’ . . . or ‘bored and impassive and contemptuous’; what I do read is, ‘When they heard this, they were pierced to the heart.’
The heart of man has a whole armor of escapist devices to hold off the danger when reality comes too near. But I would remind you that Peter’s theme that day – Jesus crucified and risen – is your basic message still, still as dynamic, as ‘mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds,’ as moving and heart-piercing as when men heard it preached in Jerusalem long ago.”
James S. Stewart, Heralds of God (New York, 1946), pages 31-32. Italics added.

What do you see as the task of the sermon?

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