The Grave and Glad Preacher

May 22, 2007

For today’s Classic Materials we return to one of my favourite books: “The Supremacy of God in Preaching” by John Piper. One of the great challenges I find in the act of preaching is both to enjoy God and be earnest on his behalf, to be satisfied in truths about God but handle them seriously. How do I preach with gladness and gravitas?


As you might suspect, John Piper has some suggestions. Find seven of them below, complete with one Piper quote from the subsequent paragraph.

1. Strive for practical, earnest, glad-hearted holiness in every area of your life.
“One of the reasons is that you can’t be something in the pulpit that you aren’t during the week – at least not for long.”

2. Make your life – especially the life of study – a life of constant communion with God in prayer
“Cotton Mather’s rule was to stop at the end of every paragraph as he wrote his sermon to pray and examine himself and try to fix on his heart some holy impression of his subject.”

3. Read books written by those who bleed Bible when you prick them and who are blood earnest about the truths they discuss.
“Jonathan Edwards….Calvin, Luther, Bunyan, Burroughs, Bridges, Flavel, Owen, Charnock, Gurnall, Watson, Sibbes and Ryle!”

4. Direct your mind often to the contemplation of death
“Death and sickness have an amazing way of blowing the haze of triviality out of life and replacing it with the wisdom of gravity and gladness in the hope of resurrection joy.”

5. Consider the biblical teaching that as a preacehr you will be judged with greater strictness
“Paul puts it most ominously in Acts 20 when he says to the people that he has been teaching in Ephesus, ‘I am innocent of the blood of all of you, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.’ (Acts 20:26-27) Evidently, not to teach God’s counsel with fulness and faithfulness can leave the blood of people on our hands.”

6. Consider the example of Jesus.
“…the crowds heard him gladly, the children sat in his lap, the women were honoured. Yet no one in the Bible spoke of hell more often or in more horrible terms.”

7. Strive with all your might to know God and to humble yourself under his mighty hand.
“Don’t be content to guide your people among the foothills of God’s glory. Become a mountain climber on the cliffs of God’s majesty, and let the truth begin to overwhelm you so that you will never exhaust the heights of God.”

Workman’s Toolbox
* No doubt this will be interest to busy pastors: how to crank through emails more quickly (HT: JT)
* A stimulating post about how one preacher incorporates prayer into his sermon prep
*Martin Luther on 9 essential qualities of good preachers
* I’m all for future planning, but I’m going to have a word with this preacher planning his advent series in May!



  1. […] very thought provoking post from the Unashamed Workman.  He’s talking about being both grave and glad in the pulpit.  […]

  2. Thanks for the link and post. I linked to it today at TS. Peace.

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