The Peculiar Pleasure of Difficult Sermons

February 1, 2011

Some passages scare me to death. I read them through, for the first time on a Monday morning, and they cause me to draw breath.

(Do I really need to preach this come Sunday? Why did I ever commit to consecutive preaching?!)

I had such an experience last week. Twice over… in fact. My texts were Judges 2:6-23 and 2 Corinthians 2:5-11. The themes were Israel’s apostasy (morning sermon) and church discipline (evening sermon). Talk about terrible twins!

Strangely, the preparation and preaching were sweet. Unusually useful.
But then, I shouldn’t call it strange. I am starting to find this a common experience.

Often the difficult texts provoke the deepest study…
Often the hardest texts produce the most helpful sermons…
Often the darkest texts provide the sharpest contrast to the effusive light of the gospel…

I find preaching on judgement a particular blessing. Not that I revel in judgement. Rather, I revel in grace. Therefore I find that texts which display God’s righteous wrath, do well – and do always – provide a welcome contrast to God’s lavish mercy. The more plainly we see judgement, the more clearly we see the cross.

C.J Mahaney says truly:

Only those who are aware of God’s wrath are amazed at God’s grace.

Read that quote again. Slowly.
And then embrace the next hard text that comes your way.



  1. “I find preaching on judgement a particular blessing. Not that I revel in judgement. Rather, I revel in grace.”

    Well said Colin, well said.

  2. You might find the following blogs of interest about C.J. Mahaney and the group he leads, Sovereign Grace Ministries:


    They tell another side. Hope this helps.

  3. I love to hear difficult preaching regarding our up-coming death. We live as though we will live forever. Sermons regarding judgement is what we (I) need to continually wake up the conscious. These sermons give such great comfort in regards to the fact that I am still alive and able to seek God for help and have visits of His mercy, even though I deserve the damnation of what has been preached. These sermons wake the spirit to beg for mercy, and they open the heart for the only Savior who is able to save to the uttermost. I wish we would hear one every Sunday, God’s visits of mercy and love towards us is worth every minute of seeking and begging for. Oh, that I may love Him more!!!!!!!!!!!! That is all we need, to have forgiveness through Christ, when we deserve nothing!!! This is but a small taste of what heaven will be like!!!!

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