Preachers Must Say Hard Things

2 Timothy 3:16–4:5

God loves sermons that proclaim hard truths from his word — even if the others don’t. In this lab, John Piper clarifies that good preaching says hard things, calls out sin, and makes us uncomfortable, because good preaching heralds God’s word.

Some questions to ask as you read and study 2 Timothy 3:16–4:5:

  1. Have you ever felt confronted in a sermon? What was said? Do you think pastors should say hard things?
  2. Read 2 Timothy 4:1–5. What do we risk if we compromise our preaching by giving people what they want to hear instead of what the word says?
  3. Watch the lab. What are the six keys to faithful preaching that John Piper identified? Take some time to pray over them for your pastor’s sermon this week.

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Principles for Bible Reading

Look for Sequences in Lists

Often, when we see lists in the Bible (for example, lists of virtues or vices, like those found in Romans 1:29–31 or Colossians 3:12–14), we might assume that there isn’t any connection between the items on the list — and there may not be. But by assuming that no sequence exists, we pass over insights we might have found had we paused and asked whether any relationship exists between the items.

The first step for identifying a sequence consists in defining each item on the list. Knowing how each item differs from the rest helps us observe any patterns or progressions. After defining the terms, ask whether the items on the list progress or can be categorized in some way.