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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.

topicsCallingPastoral MinistryPreaching

One Response to “Three Ingredients for Faithful Preaching”

March 02, 2015 at 9:40 am, Steve Rives said:

Dear Dr. Allan,

This article is one step, but another step is essential, critical and required (for if it is not taken, then the one step turns out to be invalid). Namely, preaching in general (even “Preaching the Bible”) is not to be confused with distinctly correct and Christian preaching, which is always the preaching of Jesus and him Crucified. That is, the article must conclude as follows: What is preaching, REALLY?

As it stands, it is a canvas without paint, or a painting without a subject (if that is possible)!


Steve Rives

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