Billy Graham responded saying, “You are right, there is only one sermon that matters, and it comes straight out of God’s word, ‘For God so love the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life’” (John 3:16 NKJV). To be a great preacher, you do not need to be cleaver. Preaching does not require the latest and the greatest techniques or methods. Preaching is not about big screens, light shows, or colored backdrops. Preaching calls for the faithful proclamation of God’s word.
The apostle Paul told the church at Corinth, “For since the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe…but we preach Christ crucified…because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Corinthians 1:21, 23a, 25). Preachers are not to be men pleasers, but God pleasers. Preaching requires faithfulness to the gospel message, not applause from satisfied customers. The very first words Jesus preached when He came into Galilee at the beginning of His public ministry were, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). The preaching of Jesus is the best there is. No preacher exceeds the simple, to the point, call to faith that spilled out of the mouth of our Lord. Never mistake clever rhetoric or elaborate staging for the true, undefiled, pure preaching of the gospel.
I am afraid today people seek to be wooed and wowed rather than convicted and transformed. Preaching is not easy. It is not done to please people, but to change them. Preaching is not comfortable. It is anything but comfortable. Real preaching should jolt people into the posture of repentance. It should cause us all to recognize our need to be forgiven. Preaching should cause a person to recognize the need to reach out, reach up, and reach for cleansing. Real preaching puts people in touch with the Holy Spirit that convicts and coverts, “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:9). People today want preaching that is palatable rather than powerful. People seek out preachers who make them feel better, rather than point them toward radical change.
One of the worst condemnations ever spoken about preaching was made in reference to the preaching of Jesus, “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). The fact that men loved darkness did not change the message proclaimed by the Light of the World. Preaching penetrates and separates. It converts and changes people into disciples of the Light. Real preaching never concedes or gives in to the darkness.