Great Truths About Preaching

What others are saying about preaching:

Some of you might think, ‘I am not a preacher, so this article is not for me.’ There are at least two errors here. One, most of us at least DO go to listen to preachers of one sort or another. So their preaching will have an impact on us, for good or ill. And two, we are all called to share with others our love for Christ.

I am not a preacher, but in my writing, in my teaching, and even in my presence on the social media, I am in a sense preaching. All believers in various ways are preachers in this sense of telling others the good news. We are all to evangelise, and we are all to help other Christians grow in their faith.

So what I present here is something ALL Christians can benefit from. I simply offer the thoughts of a dozen famous preachers – some older, some newer – on preaching, alphabetically by author. All up, I present to you 40 great quotes:

E. M. Bounds

“Preaching is not the performance of an hour. It is the outflow of a life. It takes twenty years to make a sermon, because it takes twenty years to make the man.”

“It is not great talents or great learning or great preachers that God needs, but men great in holiness, great in faith, great in love, great in fidelity, great for God – men always preaching by holy sermons in the pulpit, by holy lives out of it. These men mould a generation for God.”

“The men who have most fully illustrated Christ in their character, and have most powerfully affected the world for Him, have been men who have spent so much time with God as to make it a notable feature in their lives.”

“A prepared heart is much better than a prepared sermon. A prepared heart will make a prepared sermon.”

“It is easier to fill the head than it is to prepare the heart. It is easier to make a brain sermon than a heart sermon.”

Vance Havner

“The devil will let a preacher prepare a sermon if it will keep him from preparing himself.”

“There was a time when ministers spoke forthrightly and named things. We don’t name anything anymore. Finney had a sermon on How to Preach so as to Convert Nobody. He said ‘preach on sin but never mention any of the sins of your congregation – that will do it’.”

“Some preachers ought to put more fire into their sermons, or more sermons into the fire.”

Martyn Lloyd-Jones

“What is the chief end of preaching? It is to give men and women a sense of God and his presence.”

“Do you know the message of this gospel? Do you know why Paul gloried in it? It is because he had come to see that God had got a plan for this miserable, wretched, failing sinful world. And it is a plan that he had planned before the very foundation of the world itself. I know of nothing so wonderful in the whole world today. That is why I do not preach topical sermons, I have something to tell you that is worth listening to!”

“What then is the young preacher to do? Let him listen to other preachers, the best and most experienced. He will learn a lot from them, negatively and positively. He will learn what not to do, and learn a great deal of what he should do. Listen to preachers! Also read sermons. But make sure that they were published before 1900! Read the sermons of Spurgeon and Whitefield and Edwards and all the giants. Those men themselves read the Puritans and were greatly helped by them. They seem to have lived on the Puritans. Well, let the young preacher in turn live on them, or perhaps be led by them to the Puritans.”

“I am profoundly convinced that the greatest need of the Church today is a return to expository preaching.”

Martin Luther

“Always preach in such a way that if the people listening do not come to hate their sin, they will instead hate you.”

“What mortal has ever discovered or fathomed the truth that the three persons in the eternal divine essence are one God; that the second person, the Son of God, was obliged to become man, born of a virgin; and that no way of life could be opened for us, save through his crucifixion? Such truth never would have been heard nor preached, would never in all eternity have been published, learned and believed, had not God himself revealed it.”

D. L. Moody

“I’d rather be able to pray than to be a great preacher. Jesus Christ never taught his disciples how to preach, but only how to pray.”

“The preaching that this world needs most is the sermons in shoes that are walking with Jesus Christ.”

J. I. Packer

“Doctrinal preaching certainly bores the hypocrites; but it is only doctrinal preaching that will save Christ’s sheep. The preacher’s job is to proclaim the faith, not to provide entertainment for unbelievers–in other words, to feed the sheep rather than amuse the goats.”

“To the question, ‘Should one preach doctrine?’, the Puritan answer would have been, ‘Why, what else is there to preach?’ Puritan preachers were not afraid to bring the profoundest theology into the pulpit if it bore on their hearers’ salvation, nor to demand that men and women apply themselves to mastering it, nor to diagnose unwillingness to do so as a sign of insincerity. Doctrinal preaching certainly bores the hypocrites; but it is only doctrinal preaching that will save Christ’s sheep. The preacher’s job is to proclaim the faith, not to provide entertainment for unbelievers – in other words, to feed the sheep rather than amuse the goats.”

John Piper

“Preaching is not conversation. Preaching is not discussion. Preaching is not casual talk about religious things. Preaching is not simply teaching. Preaching is the heralding of a message permeated by the sense of God’s greatness and majesty and holiness.”

“That is my longing for our day—and for you. That God would raise up thousands of broken-hearted, Bible-saturated preachers who are dominated by a sense of the greatness and the majesty and the holiness of God, revealed in the gospel of Christ crucified and risen and reigning with absolute authority over every nation and every army and every false religion and every terrorist and every tsunami and every cancer cell, and every galaxy in the universe.”

Charles Spurgeon

“The true minister of Christ knows that the true value of a sermon must lie, not in its fashion and manner, but in the truth which it contains.”

“I believe the remark is too well grounded that if you attend to a lecturer on astronomy or geology, during a short course you will obtain a tolerably clear view of his system; but if you listen, not only for twelve months, but for twelve years, to the common run of preachers, you will not arrive at anything like an idea of their system of theology.”

“The sermon which does not lead to Christ, or of which Jesus Christ is not the top and the bottom, is a sort of sermon that will make the devils in hell laugh, but make the angels of God weep.”

“The preacher must make his sermons cut. Our sickle is made on purpose to cut. The Gospel is intended to wound the conscience and go right through to the heart, with the design of separating the soul from sin and self, as the corn is divided from the soil.”

“If we had to preach to thousands year after year, and never rescued but one soul, that one soul would be a full reward for all our labour, for a soul is of countless price.”

“Remember, you are not sent to whiten tombs, but to open them, and this is a work which no man can perform unless, like the Lord Jesus at the grave of Lazarus, he groans in spirit; and even then he is powerless apart from the Holy Ghost.”

“A burning heart will soon find for itself a flaming tongue.”

“Everywhere there is apathy. Nobody cares whether that which is preached is true or false. A sermon is a sermon whatever the subject; only, the shorter it is the better.”

“If you cannot preach at home because your practice runs counter to your preaching, do not preach at all—for a man has no right to talk and instruct others if he cannot, at least in some measure, live out what he teaches!”

John Stott

“We are called to the sacred task of Biblical exposition and are commissioned to proclaim what God has said, not what human beings want to hear. Thus, we have no liberty to scratch the itch of our listeners or to pander to their likings.”

“So consistent is this tradition of unpopular preaching, both in Scripture and in church history, and so contrary to the preacher’s natural inclination to be popular and to comfort people rather than disturb them, that we are prompted to enquire into its origin. We do not have far to look. The only possible explanation is that preachers like prophets believe themselves to be bearers of a Word from God and are therefore not at liberty to deviate from it.”

“Such is the theological foundation for the ministry of preaching. God is light; God has acted; God has spoken; and God has caused his action and speech to be preserved in writing. Through this written Word he continues to speak with a living voice powerfully. And the church needs to listen attentively to his Word, since its health and maturity depend upon it. So pastors must expound it; it is to this they have been called.”

Paul Washer

“I submit to you that America and other Western countries are not gospel hardened. They are actually gospel ignorant because so are most of their preachers. And let me repeat this. The malady in our countries is not liberal politicians, the root of socialism, Hollywood, or anything else. It is the so-called evangelical pastor, preacher, or evangelist of our day. That is where the malady is to be found. We do not know the gospel.”

“Now do you know why that little gospel you preach has no power? Because it is no gospel! Get to the gospel. Spend your life on your knees. Get away from the teachings of unscriptural men. Study the cross!”

“I used to tell young preachers, in order to preach you’ve got to have the power of God on your life. Now I tell them, in order to tie your shoes you’ve got to have the power of God on your life. Avoid trivial pursuits. You are a child of God, destined for glory, and called to do great things in His Name.”

John Wesley

“Before I preach love, mercy, and grace, I must preach sin, law, and judgement.”

“Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin, and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen; such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven on earth.”

“Sunday, A.M., May 5: Preached in St. Anne’s. Was asked not to come back anymore. Sunday, P.M., May 5: Preached in St. John’s. Deacons said “Get out and stay out.” Sunday, A.M., May 12: Preached in St. Jude’s. Can’t go back there, either. Sunday, A.M., May 19: Preached in St. Somebody Else’s. Deacons called special meeting and said I couldn’t return. Sunday, P.M., May 19: Preached on street. Kicked off street. Sunday, A.M., May 26: Preached in meadow. Chased out of meadow as bull was turned loose during service. Sunday, A.M., June 2: Preached out at the edge of town. Kicked off the highway. Sunday, P.M., June 2: Afternoon, preached in a pasture. Ten thousand people came out to hear me.”

George Whitefield

“It is a poor sermon that gives no offense; that neither makes the hearer displeased with himself nor with the preacher.”

“The reason why congregations have been so dead is because dead men preach to them.”

[2037 words]

6 Replies to “Great Truths About Preaching”

  1. That’s a real gem of an article. Will be saving a few of those quotes.

  2. Bill welcome back from a long road of mainly downtrodden and wearisome articles. This was fantastic, Bill is back in top form!!!

  3. Augustine of Hippo (354–430 AD):

    “[A Christian speaker] should be in no doubt that any ability he has and however much he has derives more from his devotion to prayer than his dedication to oratory; and so, by praying for himself and for those he is about to address, he must become a man of prayer before becoming a man of words. As the hour of his address approaches, before he opens his thrusting lips he should lift his thirsting soul to God so that he may utter what he has drunk in and pour out what has filled him.”

    [Saint Augustine, On Christian Teaching [De Doctrina Christiana], Book 4, paragraph 87.]

  4. Thanks Bill for sharing these quotes, all were good but liked John Wesley and George Whitefield’s at the last.

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