Like Elsie and me, many of you go to church on Sundays. We hear messages proclaimed from the pulpit but is your pastor great at preaching? How would you know? What are the qualities of great preaching against which to measure your pastor’s preaching? To find the standard for great preaching, let’s look to the Bible for answers. In Acts 2 we read of one of the greatest messages ever preached. It is the message preached by the Apostle Peter on the Day of Pentecost. Preaching to unsaved Jews from all over the known world, the Lord uses Peter’s message to save 3000 souls. It is an amazing message! It also gives us a model of great preaching seldom seen today.
Based on Peter’s Pentecost sermon, all great preaching speaks to the soul: the intellect, the emotions, and the will of men and women. Consider Peter’s message that Pentecost morning. He preached to the intellect of his hearers in Acts 2:14-21. Peter appeals to their intellect by citing the prophecy written in Joel 2:28-32 to explain the Holy Spirit’s outpouring on the disciples of Jesus. He then moves quickly to preaching to their emotions in Acts 2:22-36. The Holy Spirit uses Peter’s words to bring conviction to his hearers. Peter preaches Jesus to them and drives home the point that they crucified Jesus but God raised Him from the dead and made Him both Lord and Christ.
Finally, Peter preaches to their will. It says in verses 37-41 that upon hearing Peter’s words the multitude were convicted of their sin and Peter called them to repent and be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. It goes on to say that “with many other words he exhorted them” telling them to “save yourselves from this corrupt generation” (Acts 2:40). In response, 3000 believed and were baptized on the Day of Pentecost. Now that’s great preaching!
My concern with most preaching today is that in evangelical churches it is strong on preaching to the intellect, weaker on preaching to the emotions, and anemic on preaching to the will. Seldom are invitations given for salvation or healing. In Pentecostal churches the preaching is strong on emotions, weaker on preaching to the will, and anemic on preaching to the intellect. My plea is for balance in preaching that addresses equally the intellect, emotions, and will. That would stir the souls of men and be great preaching! Peter did that. So can modern day preachers if they so desire.
Preach the Word in season and out (2 Timothy 4:2),