You might remember that at T4G, we were given quite a stack of books.
Over last weekend, I was able to finish…
God the Peacemaker – Cole (an excellent book on the atonement I was reading when I attended T4G)
What is the Gospel? – Gilbert (Gospel 101 so to speak)
Fear Not! – Duncan (an overview and sound theology of death and afterlife)
What Does God Want of Us Anyway? – Dever (short summary of the storyline of the Bible)
Sticky Teams – Osborne (another good book I brought with me to T4G with practical tips on keeping your leadership team cohesive)
After getting through all of these, I dove into Christopher Ash’s book The Priority of Preaching. Ash trains preachers and this book is a helpful reminder for keeping the Word of God, specifically preaching, at the center of the church’s life.
For a few posts, then, I am going to interact with chapter 2 – “Preaching That Transforms The Church” because in this one chapter I found much that will help me prepare sermons for listeners. Chapter 1 was helpful is showing why preaching must be the core. Chapter 2 gets us into how this preaching can be effective.
So, with all of that intro, here’s the first quote that struck me, from the section entitled “The Stubbornness of People”:
And so I find myself slipping into what has been called the Socratic fallacy, that if I persuade them with rational argument (like Socrates), if I get my arguments clear and educate them, then education will change them. If I teach them the Bible, they’ll get it. I ought to know better, because I know my own heart. (p.52)
What I found so helpful about this is how he went on to talk about Moses (this chapter’s a sermon from Deuteronomy) and how he knew the people. He anticipated their reactions (their unbelieving fears, their pride, and their stubborn guilt). I find that often I am guilty of thinking that if I can get correct information out there that will change them. While it is important the we preach the text accurately, we must lay the ax at the root of the tree and not address surface things. We must go after the heart. The quote stood out to me because my heart is the same way. It takes more than education alone for heart change. It takes God’s Spirit causing my heart to awaken.
What I take away from this is that “preaching is more than merely educating and engaging the mind.” Preaching is holding out the word accurately so that the Spirit can take the truth and wield it for life-change in the heart of another.