I haven’t written on this blog for over a month and that is because I have been preparing and reflecting upon my first sermon. I was given the opportunity to preach Acts 9:1-31 in our church’s expositional series in the book of Acts. This is the passage about the conversion of Saul and it was gushing with the gospel. In the time leading up to preaching for the first time I was continuously encouraged by my wife, friends and family, and the elders at Christ’s Church. It was easily the most rigorous study of the Word that I have ever embarked and it was obviously one of the most fruitful journeys I’ve ever taken in the Word. This came as somewhat of a surprise to me because I have been reading and studying the Bible for years now – even for two years in a divinity school! However, the shear weight of preaching brought so much depth to my studying that I could never have been prepared for. The task of the preacher is definitely not light!
In my study I embarked upon the different dimensions of the passage that would teach and encourage the body of Christ. I studied the historical context of the people involved, the theological implications being used, the shear power of the Gospel, and even the narrative connections within the entire Bible! Though I felt extremely nervous about delivering the truth of God to his people, I have never felt more peace and joy in studying and delivering the same Gospel that I personally have been completely gripped by! I practically felt like I received more in preparation for preaching than I could have ever delivered in the actual act of preaching! I could not help but praise God for his grace and love over and over again.
In looking back, I found three things that I want to encourage you with – whether you are active in ministry leadership or are a faithful member of a church:
- You Can Trust Your Preacher If He Lives What He Preaches.
In preparation of preaching my first sermon, I spent a lot of time listening and reading from different pastors that I have trusted for truth in my own walk. The common denominator that I found in these people was that they lived out what they taught. Their preaching matched up with their personal lives. Their writing was synonymous with their social media platforms. They were consistent! I was not only encouraged to trust these people but encouraged to continuously grow in being like them. The last thing I want in my time in ministry is to teach something that I do not live. I spent time praying for God’s Word to prove true in my life. One of the elders encouraged me to think of preaching as an overflow of what I fully believe in the Word. I found that statement to be fantastically accurate! So if you know your pastor and know how he lives his life, you can trust what he preaches.
2. Always Measure Your Pastor’s Sermon Against God’s Word
I hope that you can find peace in the first statement, but I implore you to never take his sermon at face value. The Word of God is the final authority, not your pastor. For the sake of sound doctrine and protection from false teaching (even if unintentionally), always measure the sermon by the Bible. If your Bible teaches something against what your pastor is preaching, TRUST YOUR BIBLE! In the sixteenth century reformation, spearheaded by Martin Luther and his ‘ninety-five thesis’, breakthroughs of doctrine and sound teaching came through because Luther saw that the only people reading the Bible was the priests! If the only people reading the Bible are the ones teaching it, there is far too much room for false teaching and twisted sermons. The reformation happened by the will of God so that you can have direct access to the Words of the Creator of the universe! Read and trust your Bible as the ultimate authority!
3. Biblical Preaching Will Always Bear Fruit, Even If You Do Not Realize It
Let’s be honest, there are some Sunday’s when you feel like the divine revelation of Jesus Christ is so apparent and present that anyone off the street who heard two sentences of the sermon would break down in tears at the beauty of the Gospel – Amen to the power and majesty of the Lord! However, there are some Sunday’s when you know the truth is being presented but you are not hovering over yourself in spiritual being. That’s OK! Obviously we want to constantly live our lives on a spiritual high, but that is not what God intended for us. He gives us spiritual highs to take into the valleys with Him! Scripture says this,
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”2 Timothy 3:16-17, (ESV).
If you find yourself leaving a Sunday service trying to figure out something new you learned, do not be discouraged! The Word of God never returns void (Isaiah 55:11). Even if it feels mundane, hold tight to the elementary truths of the Word of God and live a faithful life in accordance with the Scriptures. This is what God calls us to do and it is by trusting the Word of God that we are equipped to do it.
So, whether you have preached a hundred sermons, have only preached twice, or will never preach in your life, I hope that this reflection has encouraged you to trust your Bible for authority and trust your pastor in light of the Bible. God is in control and it will be ok. By the grace of God we will endure.