The thoughts and reflections of one who is passionate about Jesus and struggles with sin just like everyone else.
Monday, May 20, 2013
A Word to Those Who Preach the Word
This is the preface to James Hamilton commentary on Revelation by Ken Hughes. It is word reading and mediating on by anyone who teaches and preaches.
are times when I am preaching that I have especially sensed the
pleasure of God. I usually become aware of it through the unnatural
silence. The ever-present coughing ceases and the pews stop creaking,
bringing an almost physical quiet to the sanctuary—through which my
words sail like arrows. I experience a heightened eloquence, so that
the cadence and volume of my voice intensify the truth I
is nothing quite like it—the Holy Spirit filling one's sails, the
sense of his pleasure, and the awareness that something is happening
among one's hearers. This experience is, of course, not unique, for
thousands of preachers have similar experiences, even greater ones.
has happened when this takes place? How do we account for this sense
of his smile? The answer for me has come from the ancient rhetorical
categories of logos, ethos and pathos.
first reason for his smile is the logos—in
terms of preaching, God's Word. This means that as we stand before
God's people to proclaim his Word, we have done our homework. We have
exegeted the passage, mined the significance of its words in their
context, and applied sound hermeneutical principles in interpreting
the text so that we understand what its words meant to its hearers.
And it means that we have labored long until we can express in a
sentence what the theme of the text is—so that our outline springs
from the text. Then our preparation will be such that as we preach,
we will not be preaching our own thoughts about God's Word, but God's
actual Word, his logos.
This is fundamental to pleasing him in preaching.
second element in knowing God's smile in preaching is ethos—what
you are as a person. There is a danger endemic to preaching, which is
having your hands and heart cauterized by holy things. Phillips
Brooks illustrated it by the analogy of a train conductor who comes
to believe that he has been to the places he announces because of his
long and loud heralding of them. And that is why Brooks insisted that
preaching must be “the bringing of truth through personality.”
Though we can never perfectly embody
the truth we preach, we must be subject to it, long for it, and make
it as much a part of our ethos as possible. As the Puritan William
Ames said, “Next to the Scriptures, nothing makes a sermon more to
pierce, than when it comes out of the inward affection of the heart
without any affectation [pretence].” When the
preacher's ethos back's
up his logos,
there will be the pleasure of God.
there is pathos—personal
passion and conviction. David Hume, the scottish philosopher and
skeptic, was once challenged as he was seen going to hear George
Whitefield preach: "I thought you do not believe in the gospel."
Hume replied, "I don't, but he
Just so! When a preacher believes what he preaches, there will be
passion. And this belief and requisite passion will know the smile
pleasure of God is a matter of logos (the
Word), ethos (what
you are), and pathos (your
passion). As you preach the Word may you experience his smile—the
Holy Spirit in your sails!