Blog Posts on Preaching & Teaching

Emotions and the Aim of Preaching

John Piper

Here is one of the most insightful and influential quotes on preaching I ever read. It’s from Jonathan Edwards:

I don't think ministers are to be blamed for raising the affections of their hearers too high, if that which they are affected with be only that which is worthy of affection, and their affections are not raised beyond a proportion to their importance, or worthiness of affection.

I should think myself in the way of my duty to raise the…

Continue Reading

It Was the Preached Word that Saved Me

John Piper

It seems that God has indeed designed that the inspired Word of the Bible become uniquely powerful by passing through a Spirit-filled person on the way to make a dead heart live.

Since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. (1 Corinthians 1:21)

One reason for this is that the saving Word is gospel, that is, news. News…

Continue Reading

John Stott on Self-Forgetfulness

John Piper

The abundance of audio and video recordings of preaching today tempts pastors to listen to themselves and look at themselves. One might improve a few things that way. But in general it’s a bad idea. John Stott explains why:

If you look at yourself in the mirror, and listen to yourself on tape, or do both simultaneously on videotape, I fear you may find that you continue to look at yourself and listen to yourself when you are in…

Continue Reading

Rabbi Duncan Preached to Those Who Couldn't Come

John Piper

The Bible teaches that we are so sinful we are morally unable to please God (Romans 8:7). It also teaches that without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Yet salvation is by faith, and we are called again and again in Scripture to believe (Acts 16:31).

How then shall we preach to those who cannot come to Christ, but must come in order to be saved?

John Duncan (1796-1870) was a minister of the Free Church of…

Continue Reading

Preach What's True and Precious

John Piper

A word to preachers. Truth and falsehood is a good pair of categories to use when deciding what to preach. Speak truth not falsehood.

But there is another crucial pair of categories. God tells Jeremiah that he must use this pair if he would be faithful:

Therefore thus says the Lord: “...If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless, you shall be as my mouth. (Jeremiah 15:19)

In deciding what to preach make these two…

Continue Reading

What If You Like the Preaching, But Not the Truth?

John Piper

My preparations for the Desiring God National Conference this month and the Pastors’ Conference in February flowed together while I was reading about Benjamin Franklin’s appreciation for George Whitefield.

My task at the NatCon is to speak on the question, “Is There Christian Eloquence?” My task at the Pastors’ Conference is to speak on the life and ministry of George Whitefield.

What I saw this week is that Whitefield’s gifts of “eloquence” pose the very problem I must deal with…

Continue Reading

The Glory of Preaching the Bible

John Piper

Happy birthday, John Calvin. Today we celebrate your 499th birthday. Your preaching inspires me to press on with this great and glorious task of heralding the Word of God.

T. H. L. Parker’s 1975 biography tells why:

And so we trace him preaching on Sundays with one hundred and eighty-nine sermons on the Acts between 1549 and 1554, a shorter series on some of the Pauline letters between 1554 and 1558, and the sixty-five on the Harmony of the Gospels…

Continue Reading

Falling Dew and Falling Hammers

John Piper

Especially on Sundays, preaching is paramount in a pastor’s life. When we prepare to preach, we remember that our words should fall “as gentle rain upon the tender grass” and “like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces.” Such speaking is not simple. Pray for us.

Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak;
and let the earth hear the words of my mouth.
May my teaching drop as the rain,
my speech distil as the dew,
as the
Continue Reading

Preaching What You Don't Feel

John Piper

Can a pastor preach on joy when he is feeling little of it?

Yes. He is preaching what the word says and will say it whether he feels it or not.

Yes. He will be praying that in the very preaching of it, the gift of joy might be given. It does happen.

Yes. He will be honest with his people and over time communicate to them that he has his ups and downs and may have to preach on…

Continue Reading

Beware of Proclaiming Yourself

John Piper

The great challenge of the preacher is to follow Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:5, “What we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake.”

But there are more ways to preach ourselves than one might think. This word from James Denney has exerted a sobering effect on me since I first read it in 1982. He had these words framed and posted in the vestry of his Scottish church.

No man
Continue Reading