By: Derwin L. Gray
You can read the original article in Christianity Today – April 20, 2015
There’s a massive difference between being a great communicator and being a great communicator of the gospel. This article is for fellow preachers because I care about Jesus, his church, reaching the lost, and discipleship. I want to challenge preachers to preach the gospel, not self-help sermons with Jesus “pixie dust” sprinkled on top. This practical, but powerless, preaching produces “pixie dust” disciples.
This article is also for people who listen to sermons to help identify good gospel-enabled, Christ-centered preaching. What we listen to will shape us into the image of what is preached. Please hear me, I don’t think I’m a preaching expert. I’m just trying to be faithful to Jesus, his gospel, and his people. In order to do that, when I’m preparing a sermon, I go through a grid called the “The Six Cs of Life-Transformative Preaching.” Maybe this can help you, too.
- Consecrate yourself
The longer I preach, the more I realize that it is not creative illustrations or my preaching skills that transform people. It is the power of God the Holy Spirit that transforms people. As I study the text, I’m praying first and foremost for God to use the text to transform me. I want my Bible stained with tears because I’m weeping at the glorious gospel work Jesus is doing in me and at what it can do in his people. I want people to feel the power of God through a man that is in great need of the gospel he is preaching.
People need the Good News, not good advice. The Good News is what Jesus has accomplished through his life, death, resurrection, and ascension. It is also the sending of the Holy Spirit so God’s redemptive purposes can take hold of humanity.
All 66 books of the Bible are about Jesus (see John 5:39-40), and he is the interpretative key that unlocks their riches. The Bible must be interpreted in a Christ-centered, not man-centered, way.
Jesus is not a footnote in our story; he is the story. And it’s his story of grace and glory that shapes our lives so we can live as God’s people displaying his kingdom in all of life.
In an effort to preach practically, many preachers have practically left Jesus out of the sermon. He’s tagged on at the end like the credits to a movie. A great sermon moves the hearer to praise Jesus for what he’s already done and the work he wants to do through his people.
It is better to be understood than to be cool. It is better to be clear than creative and cute. People need us to be explicit. Give them the why, what, and how of the sermon.
Jesus, his work of grace, his church, and his kingdom are compelling. At times, it seems we’ve lost confidence in the gospel. Too frequently sermons no longer explore the great beauty of Jesus and his redemptive work. I know that when we preach an exalted, glorious Jesus, people will be compelled.
God doesn’t want us to try, but to rely on him (see John 15:5). A convicting sermon is not a condemning sermon. Conviction draws people to Jesus because they are blown away by what Jesus has done for them to be God’s people. A convicting sermon shows people it is spiritual insanity not to abide in Christ.
Preach the gospel in such a way that at the end of the sermon, Jesus is the hero! What I mean is this––in order for what we preach to be accomplished in a person’s life, Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, must do it. This kind of preaching invites people to join Jesus in his great cause called the Great Commission because the power that enables them can help anyone, and they want to share it.
Friends, let’s honor our great God and king when he entrusts us with the opportunity to share his message of love and grace. We must challenge ourselves to continually center our message on Jesus.
Marinate on that.