Does homiletics quench the Spirit? Yesterday I sounded a warning note concerning “false positive” feedback. We’ve got to be careful not to assume the Spirit is at work in great ways merely because our listeners are excessively polite to us as they shake our hands and head for the door. Obviously that is only a minor side-point. Here are some more important points:
2. The Holy Spirit does work during delivery, but also during preparation. Preparation is not unspiritual. The Holy Spirit is not hindered by careful and prayerful preparation. The Bible does not promise that we will be given what to say when we preach (only when brought to witness before authorities under persecution – Matt.10:17-20). In fact, the Holy Spirit inspired the Bible and cares more than we do that it is understood properly and applied appropriately. How can shooting from the hip be more spiritual than a prayer-soaked preparation? We should be careful how we define what is spiritual and what is not.
3. Just because the Spirit can work despite us, why would we want to limit Him to that? The best study of the Scriptures that we can manage, the best structuring and development of messages that we can achieve, the best communication skill that we can use . . . it’s all a matter of good stewardship, is it not? God is not limited to our strengths, He specializes in using us in our weakness, for He gives grace to those who humbly recognize their need. But shall we deliberately go on preaching poorly that grace may increase? Not if we are being a good steward.
4. If homiletical instruction causes us to preach in our own strength, then we have a problem, Houston! Having said everything that I have in the first three points, there is a concern that we must all face. In our good stewardship, we must not end up self-reliant or flesh-powered. God opposes the proud. We must allow any training or instruction we receive to humble us (good homiletics training is like opening a window shutter and discovering how vast and intricate the task of preaching really is!)
So that’s a start. More thoughts tomorrow on this issue of defending the teaching of preaching!