By James A. Cress
“What shall I fix for dinner?”
Mother’s perpetual perplexity is the same as every minister’s recurring question: “What shall I preach?” I hope you are asking earlier than the evening before your sermon. Friday night specials are as deadly as a handgun to your church.
If you hope to preach with purpose so as to expand the numbers of your audience while deepening their spirituality, now is the time. Time for what? It’s high time to plan your preaching for an entire year. Heaven will bless your planning process and the Holy Spirit will awaken you to deeply spiritual facets of the themes you intend to proclaim. The fact is that you cannot count on advance insight if you have not prayed for it and planned accordingly. How would you even comprehend God’s voice if you are unaware of what you expect to preach?
So what shall I preach?
|“The sacrifice of Christ as an atonement for sin is the great truth around which all other truths cluster. In order to be rightly understood and appreciated, every truth in the Word of God, from Genesis to Revelation, must be studied in the light that streams from the cross of Calvary. I present before you the great, grand monument of mercy and regeneration, salvation and redemption—the Son of God uplifted on the cross. This is to be the foundation of every discourse given by our ministers.” –Ellen G. White, Gospel Workers, p.315.
Preach Jesus as Heavenly Seeker who came for the specific purpose of redeeming lost humanity. Portray Jesus emptying Himself in order to live among us—God with us! Make the gospel simple. “I deserved to die, Jesus took my place.”
Preach Jesus as Incarnate Word. Show how His life and His words give power. Build confidence in the authority of Scriptures and the transforming power of spiritual communion through study and prayer.
Preach Jesus as Creator. Increase faith by pointing to the choice of belief in a literal six-day creation. “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible” (Hebrews 11:3).
Preach Jesus as Conqueror. Just as He made full atonement for our sins at the cross, Jesus came forth from the tomb with glorious victory over death and the grave. In the great controversy between good and evil, the ultimate triumph of God’s love is assured.
Preach Jesus as Compassionate High Priest. Just as He secured our salvation at Calvary, Jesus applies the benefits of His redemption through His powerful ministry of interecession on our behalf in the heavenly sanctuary.
Preach Jesus as Lord of the Sabbath. The seventh-day Sabbath amounts to hollow and empty ritual apart from a dynamic relationship with the lovely Lord of the Lord’s Day. Demonstrate the beauty of a sanctuary in time devoted to rest, worship, and fellowship,
Preach Jesus as Desire of Nations. Although peace on earth is unlikely to occur until His kingdom is established, Jesus can reign as Prince of Peace in our hearts to establish love for neighbors, empathy for strangers, justice for the disenfranchised, and to eliminate racism, abuse, violence, and class or gender discrimination among His believers.
Preach Jesus as Empowering Lord. Salvation by grace alone through faith in His marvelous gift leads believers to follow Jesus’ own example of good works. Obedience is never the method, but always the result of a saving relationship. All His biddings are enablings and through Christ’s strength we can do all things.
Preach Jesus as Exemplary Model. Do you want to raise the standards? Lift up Jesus. Avoid behavioral check lists and advocate Jesus’ own holistic pattern. Portray Jesus as the founder of marriage, the friend of children, and the partner who shapes families for eternity. Show how Jesus gives abundant life now and invites our faithful use of time, talents, treasure, and testimony.
Preach Jesus as Judge. Good news in the judgment shows Jesus as our judge, our defense advocate, and our brother as He stands for His people. Justified, sanctified, and glorified by Jesus. Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Preach Jesus as Head of His Church. God has raised a prophetic people to accomplish His purpose. He provides His church’s needs through the Holy Spirit’s gifts so that we lack no good thing to fulfill His great commission.
Preach Jesus as Coming King. Keep the blessed hope alive in the minds of your members. Develop joyous anticipation of resurrection reunion and focus on the promises of His near return.
When you have exhausted these topics, then ask the question again. What shall I preach? The answer is always the same. Preach Jesus!
James A. Cress is secretary of the General Conference Ministerial Association. Reprinted with permission from More Common Sense Ministry, p. 42. This resource is available through the General Conference Ministerial Resource Center. Better Sermons © 2005-2008. Click here for usage guidelines.