I sincerely believe that the Holy Spirit will help us in our preaching and teaching, if we entirely depend upon Him. Do you entirely depend upon the Holy Spirit? I encourage no man to go into the pulpit and say whatever first pops into his mind. We must not presume that all our thoughts are God’s thoughts. Yet, we cannot prepare in the absence of any trust in the Holy Spirit’s help in the pulpit. We must earnestly prepare while humbly trusting in God. Charles H. Spurgeon writes:
For we would have the Lord with us in the delivery of our message, we must be in dead earnest, and full of living zeal. Do you not think that many sermons are “prepared “until the juice is crushed out of them, and zeal could not remain in such dry husks? Sermons which are studied for days, written down, read, re-read, corrected, and further corrected and emended, are in great danger of being too much cut and dried. You will never get a crop if you plant boiled potatoes. You can boil a sermon to a turn, so that no life remaineth in it. I like, in a discourse, to hear the wild-bird notes of true nature and pure grace: these have a charm unknown to the artificial and elaborate address. The music which we hear of a morning, in the spring, has a freshness in it which your tame birds cannot reach; it is full of rapture, and alive with variety and feeling.
A very good preacher once said to me, “I feel discouraged; for the other Sunday I did not feel at all well, and I preached a sermon without much study; in fact, it was such a talk as I should give if I sat up in bed in the middle of the night, and in my shirt-sleeves told out the way of salvation. Why, sir, my people came to me and said, ‘What a delightful sermon! We have so enjoyed it!’ I felt disgusted with them. When I have given them a sermon that took a full week, and perhaps more, to prepare, they have not thought anything of it; but this unstudied address quite won their hearts.” I replied to him, “If I were you I would accept their judgment, and give them another sermon of the same sort.” So long as the life of the sermon is strengthened by it, you may prepare to the utmost; but if the soul evaporates in the process, what is the good of such injurious toil? It is a kind of murder which you have wrought upon the sermon which you have dried to death. I do not believe that God the Holy Ghost cares one single atom about your classical composition. I do not think that the Lord takes any delight in your rhetoric, or in your poetry, or even in that marvelous peroration which concludes the discourse, after the manner of the final display at old Vauxhall Gardens, when a profusion of all manner of fireworks closed the scene. Not even by that magnificent finale does the Lord work the salvation of sinners. If there is fire, life, and truth in the sermon, then the quickening Spirit will work by it, but not else. Be earnest, and you need not be elegant. (“The Preacher’s Power, and the Conditions of Obtaining It“)
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