In my previous post there were two poignant comments about preaching, and I'd like to give them each a little bit more thought and consideration.
"Look at the Word. If you look at the Word, you'll preach. If you don't, you'll tell stories and illustrations."
Now, this actually is a rather profound statement. One of the questions, the things that revolve around the background of preaching theory is the use of story and the like. How do I use illustrations? How can I find some good ones? And one of the underlying ideas behind illustrations is the idea that they are needed to keep the listener's interest.
Think about that for a second. This Scripture stuff we are talking about is too boring - we need a good story to make it interesting.
Do you see how that is an attitude and an idea that is totally, totally dismissive of the Word and its efficacy?
Our preaching is not to be an attempt to improve upon the Word - it is to be proclamation of the Word of God. Might we use story and illustration in that - sure, but only as a means of explanation or example. Our illustrations ought never be the point. The point must always be the Word.
In High School English, I was taught the S-E-E format of paragraph construction. Statement, Example, Explanation. And I think this is a very good way to shape an informative paragraph. Let me give an example:
(Statement) We in the Church know that Christ Jesus desires all sorts of people to be saved. (Example) Jesus says, "make disciples of all nations." (Explanation) The Church isn't limited to just you or I, isn't isn't just our own Holy Club, but God will bring in people from all nations. God isn't like some 50s Segregationist who's going to tell you to back away from the streams of living water if your skin's the wrong color - all nations - He has won salvation for all nations.
Illustrations and imagery can make for a good explanation, a good emphasis -- but it can never be the statement, the focus. And the center of all things needs to be the Word - the example of anything we say needs to be backed up by the Word.
So consider your own preaching -- how much of your preaching is the Word of God? If more of it is your own great stories or ideas... not a good sign.
"Gentlemen, unless you preach the atonement, you haven't preached."
And the real icing on the cake is this - what is the point of the Word of God? It is always, Old Testament or New, to point us to the death of Christ Jesus to win salvation. Always. If you aren't pointing to this, what's the point of your sermon?
Seriously - if you aren't going to preach Christ and Him Crucified, why are you wasting my time? What do you think is more important than the Cross?
It's just something to think about, to ponder. How much Word is in my sermon. How much of the sermon points to the cross. If I don't see much Word, if I don't see much Cross... I'm not really preaching, am I?