With Sunday quickly approaching and sermon prep happening all over the world in anticipation of what God will do this Lord’s Day, it is vital that we remember where the preacher’s power resides.
In his excellent book on preaching Him We Proclaim: Preaching Christ From All the Scriptures, Dennis Johnson unpacks the apostle Paul’s theology of preaching. Commenting on Colossians 1:29, Johnson highlights what makes preaching ultimately powerful and life-changing:
Paul rejoices in suffering and boasts in weakness because both show that in apostolic preaching more is at work than human intelligence or articulateness. Nothing can explain the life-changing effects of the message of the Cross except the almighty operation of God’s sovereign Spirit. Therefore, Paul’s toil and struggle are sustained by “all [Christ’s] energy that he powerfully works within me” (Col. 1:29).
In 2 Corinthians 10:4-5, Paul compares the preacher’s task to the siege and conquest of forbidding fortresses: “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” The strongholds are cleverly defended, deep-seated error that arrogantly opposes God’s truth in Christ. These defenses of the human heart are harder fortifications to breach than the massive walls of unscalable stone that encircled ancient Jericho. Yet, the apostolic preacher has in his arsenal the very weapons that can pierce stone-hard hearts and invade spiritual death with new life: the gospel of Christ, carried forward by the invincible Spirit of Christ. (90)
This is why preachers and listeners go confidently into church this weekend, trusting God to do what only God can do.