Two Pillars of Preaching
Lately, I’ve been reading The Supremacy of God in Preaching by John Piper. In it, Piper unpacks his thoughts on effective, biblical preaching.
Piper has tremendously impacted my admiration of God, my hunger for Scripture, and my submission to Jesus — all primarily through his preaching. I feel deeply indebted to the man. Needless to say, I’ve been eager to read this book.
Piper defines preaching as, “…worshiping over the Word of God with explanation and exultation.” He continues, “There are always two parts to true worship. There is seeing God and there is savoring God.”
I have been struck by his emphasis on both of these pillars of preaching. Understanding in the mind and feeling in the heart are not at odds with one another. Rather, they compliment each other. Neither is optional. Seeing God without savoring God does not honor God, and savoring God without seeing God is impossible.
Consider how Jesus speaks of John the Baptist:
“He was a burning and shining lamp.”
— John 5:35
John the Baptist prepared the way for the Son of God. Preaching prepares the way for the Word of God — it brings people into God’s presence by the burning, shining proclamation of His Word.
What do I mean by burning and shining? Preaching must warm the affections and enlighten the mind. It must fortify doctrine and intensify delight. Heat and light. Explanation and exultation. Seeing and savoring. These are the two pillars of preaching.
Preach to Others
Now, you may be thinking to yourself, “This is great, Ryan, but I’m not a preacher. So how is this helpful to me?”
Though you may not be a preacher by vocation — hear me say this — you are a preacher by implication. The Great Commission is not for “professional” Christians, but for every Christian. You have been conferred with this great privilege: “To finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, [and] to testify to the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24).
And so, when you are sharing your faith with a friend over coffee or teaching someone how to read the Bible, burn and shine. Explain and exult. Make it your goal to enlighten his or her mind in riveting, Bible-anchored knowledge and to warm his or her heart in beautiful, Bible-anchored affections.
Preach to Yourself
Finally, apply these pillars to your own time in the Bible. Ask God to help you see His glory, and ask Him to help you rejoice in it. Preaching must first occur in the inner circle of our heart, gradually rippling outward into the lives of those around us.
If we are not preaching first to ourselves, we will be like travel agents handing people brochures to places where we have never ourselves been.
Don’t believe the lie that you’re just a “knowledge” person or just a “feelings” person. Even if you have a natural bent one way or the other, we desperately need both to walk with Jesus — all of us.
“Our God is a consuming fire” whose light is irrepressible and whose warmth is inextinguishable (Hebrews 12:29). So whether you feel deficient in your knowledge or drab in your affections, rejoice in the God who cannot be stopped and who will overcome.