4 Ways to Secure the Glory of Christ in Your PreachingApril 8, 2017
In his book, Heartbeats of the Holy, Keith Knauss tells the story of a farmer who went to hear John Fletcher (a devout preacher who greatly influenced the ministry of John Wesley). As the old farmer set out to hear Fletcher at a local revival service in town, he passed by his neighbor who asked of his goings. The farmer said, “I am going to see Fletcher and hear him preach.”
On the following Monday, the farmer passed by the neighbor once again. When the neighbor asked if he had seen Fletcher preach, the farmer replied, “No, I saw no man save Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
It is true, we have very few John Fletchers in the “selfie generation” of the Laodicean church; and perhaps that is why Christ, by in large, is on the outside of our assemblies waiting for someone to make much of Him.
Making much of Jesus, exalting His name, magnifying His work, and glorifying His Person must be the quintessential element of our preaching. I wonder, is the glory of Christ the primary aim every time we take a text from God’s Word? Here are four questions that should be asked to secure the glory of Christ in the preaching hour.
Is the Glory of Christ in My Motivation?
The preacher of God’s Word is faced with this seemingly innocuous question each week: Why am I doing this? The short answers may be: Because I have been called, because I have something to say, because I am gifted to speak, because I have a responsibility at the church, because I enjoy ministry, because I love preaching. These answers may have elements of virtue, but they become poisonous to the lifeblood of preaching apart from the glory of Christ. The congregation may only see what you are doing, but Christ sees why you are doing what you are doing. When preaching is reduced to a paycheck, a performance, or a presentation, it may be many things, but Christ-honoring is not one of them.
Gut Check: Does the Christ of glory know that I am doing what I do for the glory of Christ?
Is the Glory of Christ in My Message?
Needless to say, it is difficult to glorify Christ if He is left out of the message. The content that fills most sermons in this generation is quite disturbing. We are inundated with self-help, psycho-babbling, religious entrepreneurs who work relentlessly at selling their self-centered messages to the masses. Just listen to preaching in these days…. what do you hear? Very little of Christ; but I suppose when Christ is left on the outside knocking, it forces mankind to take centerstage. If the expositor sincerely seeks to glorify Christ in the preaching hour, he must move away from the anthropological-centered preaching of these post-modern times and keep His message Christocentric in every part and parcel.
Gut Check: Is Christ made known in my preaching, regardless of the subject?
Is the Glory of Christ in My Mannerisms?
For the most part, modern preaching is not lackluster. From the big-arena speaker to the small camp-meeting preacher, style and character goes a long way with most audiences. Our generation of preaching is full of vigor, persuasion, and charisma. God uniquely designs the personality of preachers to effectively connect truth to specific people groups at particular times (this is seen all throughout Scripture). There is a danger, however, when we accentuate our quirks, demeanor, and traits over the glory of Christ. I have been in services when the struggling preacher turns on the charm, works up the crowd, and in demonstrative fashion, maximizes his personality. If we are not careful, such a tactic can rob Christ of His glory. Sometimes the congregation’s attention is more engaged with our facial expressions, flapping arms, and peculiar ways than they are with the Person of Christ. Be certain, the preacher cannot preach apart from His God-given mannerisms, but when those things become primary then something of our preaching needs to be examined.
Gut Check: When people walk away from my preaching, do they remember me more than they do Christ?
Is the Glory of Christ in My Mission?
John the Baptist had a strong ministry, a large following, and a faithful witness. Yet, when Christ came upon the scene, John faded into periphery of the glory of Christ. John went on record as saying, “He must increase, I must decrease.” People came out to see John, but they left following Jesus. This must be the aim, the objective, the overall mission of the preaching hour. We must connect men with Christ. The only kind of preacher who can do such a thing is the kind that dies to self and diverts everyone’s attention to the glory of the Lamb.
Gut Check: Am I working faithfully in the service of the Lord to fade into the periphery of Christ’s glory so that others can follow Him?