Every communicator of God’s Word, if he desires to grow, must evaluate himself by Christ’s earthly teaching, because it perfectly illustrates anointed preaching. A man who is merely interested in self-glory will never evaluate himself by such a standard. But every sincere preacher who desires God’s hand on his life and ministry will gladly stand before this searchlight.
As the Pharisees gave their pompous evaluations of Christ’s teaching, Christ gave two thoughts to measure all preaching:
- Is my preaching God-initiated?
- Am I preaching to be known?
The Pharisees highly valued their ritualistic, formal education; but a simple carpenter’s Son came along and stunned them with His insights:
The Jews then were astonished, saying, “How has this man become learned, having never been educated?” (v. 15 NASB).
It did not occur to them that any path for learning was possible other than their man-initiated schooling. Jesus’ response gives the clue to great preaching:
“My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me” (v. 16).
Christ, a man, sat at the feet of His Father and simply communicated what He heard. His preaching was God-initiated. Jesus reiterated this so often that there is no doubt of its supreme importance. He said:
“I can do nothing on My own initiative” (John 5:30; also 8:28; 12:49; 14:10; 16:13).
The mark of great preaching is not only diligent study (1 Timothy 2:15; Ezra 7:10), however, but also a dependent heart that consistently cries out, “Lord, these are Your people—what do YOU want to say?”
Although many men work up a sermon, their hearers only see sparkle and shine but receive little sustenance. Preachers faithful to God, however, pray down their words from heaven and deliver them hot and nutritious from the Almighty.
It is the combination of diligent study and spiritual dependence that marks life-changing communication. It is God-initiated not only in its content but also in its timing. Such words are “good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29).
Truly anointed preaching is distinguished by an unmistakable power that penetrates the heart, convicts the soul, heals the wounds, and draws men to the Father. This conduit preaching lets God reach through the preacher and touch the heart, accomplishing the deliverance of which He alone is capable.
Is your preaching God-initiated? There is a price to pay for the privilege of such delivery.
We must be done with self-glory if we are to preach as Christ.
“He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him” (v. 18).
It is the great curse of all preachers: Our natural pride rises easily, and standing before others, the untested heart secretly desires to be noticed. We long to be appreciated, recognized, spoken of, remembered. We are frustrated when no one makes positive comments to us after our messages, and we are silently angered by candid evaluations from wise listeners.
But God will not entrust His truth to those who are, even unconsciously, determined to steal His glory. Although the proud communicator may receive and revel in great adulation from undiscerning listeners, he will hear no applause from heaven. God may override and deliver the message for the hearers’ sake at times (He spoke through a donkey once), but He will be grieved by the messenger, knowing that his ministry will be limited by his love for human praise.
- We must ruthlessly evaluate our motives.
- We must let God’s Word daily pour over our hearts to teach, reprove, correct, and train us in righteousness.
- We must often cry out in prayer, “Search me, O God, and know my heart!”
- We must enlist and welcome the evaluation of godly men and women to see those things to which pride blinds us.
- We must realize that preaching is not the performance of an hour but is developed through our relationship with Christ every hour of the week.
- We must let God purify the messenger so there is no admixture in the message.
Preaching is a lifelong discipline. God accumulates His Word in the mind of the diligent student and builds His channel in the heart of the humble servant.
Along the way, moments of great preaching will come; and humbling and thrilling for the preacher is that moment when God speaks, when he knows the privilege of communicating God’s truth to hungry hearts. And blessed are those who hear!