Beyond Guilt – Part 4

Some preachers rely exclusively on the pressure tactic of guilt in their preaching.  Surely there must be a more biblically rounded approach?  This week I’ve suggested we need to consider our stance, our tone and yesterday, our strategy.  Let me offer the fourth factor today:

4. The Preacher’s Vision.  Essentially, when we boil it down, what are we offering when we preach?  Ok, the message of the text.  So there will be an individuality to each message since every text is unique.  But what does the Bible offer – even allowing for each text to be its own unique entity in the tapestry of the whole?

If you think the Bible offers instructions for living, your preaching will reflect that.  If you think the Bible offers engaging ancient stories with helpful morals, then your preaching will reflect that.  But if you think the Bible offers a vision of the heart and character and grace and personality of God, then your preaching will reflect that.

To put this another way, what is the good news offered in the Word?  Is it the good news of a way in which a sinful humanity can now be empowered to live a more righteous life – that is, a gospel that somehow misses God out?  Or is it the good news of who God is, offering a sinful humanity the privilege of relationship with Him who to know is life, and who to know will transform a life?

I wish this were so obvious that I didn’t see the need to write the post, but I have heard sermons where God is essentially, or even actually, omitted and absent.  These are the kind of messages I might see as party political speeches, or “if only people would be good society would be better” messages, etc.  There are many types of speeches in the world today, but the ones where God is at most a bit-part player are not the kind of speeches we need in the church.

If the vision captivating the preacher’s heart is the Law, then the message will likely be a guilt focused message.  If the vision captivating the preacher’s heart is the grace and love of a loving God, then the message is likely to be more compelling, more transformative.  After all, the gospel involves the transformation of lives from the inside out, not by the pressure of responsibility, but by the attractive invitation to respond to the goodness of our so very good God.

The vision captivating you will show in your preaching, and if it is the vision of the God who reveals Himself throughout His Word, then I suspect you will offer that same vision in your preaching – a vision that alone can truly transform lives.

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