Three Ingredients for Faithful Preaching

Faithful preaching has three primary ingredients. Creativity and homiletical polish are helpful, but the key ingredients of faithful preaching are preset and established by God. The three ingredients touch on who is qualified to preach, why one should preach, and what one should preach.

Who may Preach?

Though the gospel call is promiscuous, the call to preach is not. In fact, preachers are a conscripted force, mustered by God’s Spirit into service for the church.

As Spurgeon observed, the call to preach begins with an intense, internal, and all-absorbing desire for ministry work.[1] In addition to this internal aspiration, the Apostle Paul set forth sterling character and the ability to teach God’s Word as pastoral non-negotiables (I Tim 3:1–7; Titus 1:5–9).

From man’s perspective, most anyone can enter ministry by donning clerical garb, speaking in religious platitudes, and receiving church-based compensation. However, from God’s perspective, only those called by his Spirit, qualified by his Scriptures, and affirmed by his local church can preach faithfully.

Why do we Preach?

 Those called to preach should do just that—preach. Preaching is God’s divinely ordained means of communicating his Word, nourishing his church, and redeeming his people. Other pastoral activities may complement preaching, but nothing should displace it.

God only had one son, and he made him a preacher. Scripture tells us “Jesus came preaching” (Mark 1:14) and then he sent his disciples out to preach. From the prophets of old to Pentecost, to the end of the age, preaching is God’s appointed means of reconciling sinners to himself.

As Spurgeon warned, “I do not look for any other means of converting men beyond the simple preaching of the gospel and the opening of men’s ears to hear it. The moment the church of God shall despise the pulpit, God will despise her. It has been through the ministry that the Lord has always been pleased to revive and bless his churches.”[2]

Whether in the first century or the twenty-first century, man will find signs attractive and wisdom appealing, but God has always been well-pleased through the foolishness of preaching to save those who believe.

We preach because God ordained it.  We dare not do anything else.

What do we Preach?

Faithful preaching requires sermons be preached from God’s Word. Both prescriptively and descriptively, Scripture is clear—the preacher’s task is to preach God’s Word. We do not look to the news cycle, social media, or pop culture for sermon fodder. We look to the Scriptures. Illustrations, analogies, and applications can be helpful, but they must illuminate and underscore the text, not distract from it.

Biblical exposition—sermons that explain the text, place it with in its biblical context, and apply it to God’s people—is preferable because God has predetermined not only what, but also how, we preach.

There is a measure of latitude here. Whether the expository sermon is 30 minutes or 60 minutes, the sermon series counted in weeks or years, we can find joy when God’s Word is honored, explained, and authoritatively preached.

“The Bible says” remains the most beautiful refrain in the church house. Explaining and applying the Bible to God’s people remains the most noble—and urgent—ministerial task, which is why Paul’s dying words to Timothy bind and instruct preachers in every generation—preach the Word.


Martyn Lloyd-Jones famously observed preaching is “the highest, the greatest, and the most glorious calling to which anyone can ever be called.”[3] It is too high and too glorious a calling for just anyone to preach just anything for just any reason in just any way. Preaching is to be done by a man, called of God, who is compelled to herald the Bible with full conviction and faithful interpretation.


[1] See C. H. Spurgeon, “The Call to Ministry,” in Lectures to My Students(repr.; Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2014), 23–42.

[2] C. H. Spurgeon, Autobiography, Volume 1: The Early Years (London: Banner of Truth, 1962), v.

[3] Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Preaching and Preachers (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1972), 9.

*This article was originally posted on 3/2/2015*


One Response to “Three Ingredients for Faithful Preaching”

August 02, 2017 at 2:10 pm, Gene R. Simowitz said:

Thank you, Dr. Allen, for these very insightful and relevant thoughts, especially the third ingredient. As I travel to different locations and visit different churches, it is sad to learn that more and more churches do not hear “The Bible says”, and the people are not receiving the spiritual nourishment they so desperately need. There is, indeed, a famine of the Word across our country. So many people have told me they just don’t hear the sermons they used to hear that would challenge, encourage, edify, and give them hope. It seems too many pastors are preaching “feel good” sermons, and it also seems apparent that not a great deal of preparation goes into their messages, as if they are almost “text book” sermons spoken word for word directly out of a sermon manual. Years ago while I was a student at Midwestern, my evangelism professor, Delos Miles, would often say that when we preach/evangelize, there is nothing wrong with changing the methodology, as long as it is ethical, but we never change the message. The same message which worked in the 1st century can also work in the 21st century. It is lesson I have always tried to remember. Thank you again, Dr. Allen. I always look forward to reading your thought-provoking messages.

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