How to Preach Well: Same ole’ same ole’

Posted: December 21, 2009 by limabean03 in Anglican Communion, Spurgeon, Thought and Practice in the Diocese of South Carolina

I don’t pretend to be a good preacher, however I do think I know one when I see one.  And after studying several good ones, from various points in the 2000 years of Christian preaching I’ve noticed something.  The very best ones are not very original.  Rather, they rely heavily on the Scriptures and equally heavily on those Christian saints who have gone before them.  The point is expressed very well by Spurgeon in the excerpt below.  A good preacher doesn’t preach a new thing, but an old thing.  A good preacher isn’t innovative, but a copy cat.  A good preacher doesn’t come with his own message, but the message of Jesus Christ.  All the good ones have done this.  And the smart ones copy those who have done it well.

Christ’s testimony was final.  His was the last testimony, the last revelation that ever will be given to man.  After Christ, nothing.  Christ comes last:  he is the stepping stone across the brook of time.  All who come after him are only confirmers of the testimony of Christ.  Our Augustins, our Ambroses, our Chrysostoms, or any other of the mighty preachers of olden times, they never pretended to say any thing fresh.  They only revived the gospel- that same old fashioned gospel which Christ used to preach.  And Luther and Calvin, and Zuingle, adn Knox, they only came to confirm the truth.  Christ said “finis” to the canon of revelation, and it was closed forever.  No one can add a single word thereto, and no one can take a word therefrom.  We Dissenters are sometimes charged with inventing a new gospel.  We deny it.  We say that our Owen, Howe, Henry, Charnock, Bunyan, Baxter, Janeway, and all that galaxy of stars did not pretent to anything new; they only preached the same thing over again, they only revived the things that Christ said, they only professed to be confirmers of the witness, and not witnesses.  And so it has been with teh great men we have lost during the last century.  Whitefield and his brother evangelists, and men who stood in the same position as Gill, or Booth, or Rippon, or Carey, or Ryland, or some of those who have just been taken away- they did not pretend to any thing new.  They only said, Brethren, we come to tell you the same old story; we have got just as much as God bestows; we are not testifiers of new things; we are only confirmers of the witness, Christ Jesus.

-Charles Spurgeon, “Confirming the Witness of Christ”, Sermon XIV

  1. Greg Smith says:

    Amen! The thought that’s been sticking in my mind is the word “illuminate” – as in “illuminated texts”. With such a short time to preach at Holy Cross, I’m trying to learn how to pick stories, write big ideas, and choose an outline form that will illuminate the text and bring it to the forefront so that people (hopefully) will pick up a Bible and read it for themselves….

    Back in Colorado we would have a weekly “evaluator” who was picked at random… and we’d ask them many questions… one of which was, “What was the big idea, main thought, focus of the Preacher, today?” If it was in the ball park of what the commentators were saying (+application) then I felt good.

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