Preaching Articles

“People are starving for the greatness of God,” observes John Piper, “but most of them would not give this diagnosis of their troubled lives. The majesty of God is an unknown cure. There are far more popular prescriptions on the market, but the benefit of any other remedy is brief and shallow. Thus preaching that does not have the aroma of God’s greatness may entertain for a season, but it will not touch the hidden cry of the soul: ‘Show me your glory.’”

Our greatest need, as we walk through the wilderness of this present age, is to see what the Apostle John saw on the Isle of Patmos — a glimpse of the glory of God.

Yet as preachers we want to connect with the congregation, don’t we? We want to be relevant. We want to meet our flocks where they are. We have heard the protests for more “practical sermons.” These critics desire sermons that instruct on “how I can be a better self,” “how I can deal with stress in my life” or “how I can be more successful.” And so, acquiescing to these laments, therapy has replaced theology in much contemporary preaching.

The self has acquired center stage, and God, if He is there at all, has been marginalized. The focus has shifted from God, who He is and what He has done, to self and our activity, our needs and our experiences. The assumption, of course, is that theology is not practical, that the study of God is irrelevant for our daily lives. But nothing could be further from the truth. What our people need is God-centered preaching.

We need to preach the Word if God’s people are ever to catch a glimpse of the glory of God (1 Tim. 4:4). It’s through the Word that the Spirit reveals to us God — His person, name, attributes, work and glory. The Bible was given to reveal God to His people so that they might know, love and worship Him. The Bible is fundamentally a book about God. This might come as a surprise to some. Because of our natural bent toward self, we tend to think that the Bible is a book about us. It is not. It is, from beginning to end, a book about God: “In the beginning, God” (Gen. 1:1).

If the Word is theocentric (God-centered), how can our preaching be anything other than theocentric? Our preaching is a reflection of our theology. When our theology is focused on God and His glory, our preaching will be the same. In our narcissistic culture, plagued with materialism, pragmatism and relativism, a concentrated emphasis on God and His glory is precisely what our people need.

Our minds and our hearts need to be lifted from the things that can be seen and directed to the things that are unseen and eternal. Wasn’t this the remedy for Asaph’s troubled soul (Ps. 73)? He had become so absorbed with self and the comforts of this present age that he became envious of the wicked — until, that is, he entered the temple of God. It was only as his eyes shifted from things temporal to things eternal that his mind and heart were recalibrated.

God-centered preaching, however, does not negate the need for preaching Christ; rather, it requires it. God-centered preaching must necessarily be focused on Christ, for it is only as we see Christ that we can know God (John 1:18). It is only through Christ, who is the exact imprint of God, that we come to know and love God. Jesus Christ is the sum and substance of all the Scriptures: “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him” (2 Cor. 1:20).

That’s why Paul can boldly declare to the Corinthians, “I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2); to the Colossians succinctly state, “Him we proclaim” (Col. 1:28); and at the same time acknowledge to the elders at Ephesus that he “did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).

Jesus Christ is the One sent from heaven (John 6) to deliver us from this present evil age and bring us to God. He is Immanuel — God with us — and He is God for us and, by his Holy Spirit, God in us.

Only preaching that is centered on the triune God and His majesty and condescending love for sinners, demonstrated in Jesus Christ, will solicit the eternal doxology: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever” (Rev. 5:13).

God-centered preaching exposes the things of this passing age as forfeit and rouses the soul to confess with Asaph: “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Ps. 73:25–26).

It is only as God’s people catch a vision of God in all of His splendid glory that they will begin to ache for uninterrupted communion with Him and more earnestly pray, “Come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20). Can anything be more relevant to our daily lives than God-centered preaching? And can anything be more satisfying than to see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ?

Rev. Bernie van Eyk is pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church (Presbyterian Church in America), in Stuart, Florida.

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Irene Allen

commented on Jun 6, 2013

Here in part, is why I believe there are so many 'people' centered messages in the place of God focused messages across our platforms- Just suppose there's never been a Christ-centered message modeled before those who speak for God? How exactly is a God-centered message presented, is a priceless question to be answered, I believe, to the next and present generation of spokesmen/women for God.. This is a great article.

David Buffaloe

commented on Jun 6, 2013

excellent article!

Jason Davis

commented on Jun 6, 2013

We are teaching in Ephesians right now and I believe Paul's message is a great model of this. Six chapters total. The first three chapters are deeply theological, the last three deeply practical. The message was completely undergirded with the greatness of God. Therefore, walk worthy of the calling of God in Chapter 4 is a result of who God is. It is the Gospel through and through. Nothing wrong with having practical application of the passage but you start with Christ. Christ did the work and we are to show His glory to the people.

Lucky Ekentason

commented on Jun 6, 2013

Amen Pastor Bernie. Great write-up. Actually not only should Jesus be our theme in all our sermons but also to make our listeners know about the consequences of sin and rebellion against God. The church needs revival.

Hugo Fries

commented on Jun 6, 2013

I like the article - great points. Response #4, lucky, we all know about the consequences of sin and rebellion, please, we are living in it. -what we need to hear about is God's economy of grace that runs counter to everything our world offers. -

Doug Conley

commented on Jun 6, 2013

If our preaching is God-centered, then there has to be preached not only the grace of God, but also the wrath of God. We must not distort the fact that God is first, righteous. And I don't agree at all that everyone knows the consequences of sin. They may have heard it, but have they taken it seriously? And how can one see the need for a savior when one doesn't see themselves as lost? God is the ruler of both heaven and hell. If one preaches a distorted image of God, perhaps it is best not to preach at all.

Rodney Shanner

commented on Jun 6, 2013

The Bible is a Book about God and the creatures He loves, people. God created the self. The history of salvation is about His plan to renew the self in His Image. Wholeness for the self can only be realized when Christ is the Lord of life. Self-rule is destructive. Self ruled by Christ is the way to wholeness.

Irene Allen

commented on Jun 6, 2013

I often hear messages that infer/distort as if truth, the wrath of God as being appointed for the believer though the word of God speaks the opposite. The wrath of God is not reserved for the believer, but the unbeliever. John 3:36.. Don't understand me wrongly. I do believe the 'unbeliever' must hear and know who the wrath is reserved for, but we who speak for Jesus must remain as Jesus focused as possible when sharing him. As He was. When Jesus walked the earth He shared and offered himself and was either accepted with joy or loathed and detested. He did not offer himself as someone to be feared, but loved and beholding.. We know this is true, by the following- Even the children adored and accepted him. I think a good portion of distorting God's word comes in, when preaching to believers as if they were doomed for hell. The believer who is taught well understands the consequences of those refusing Jesus (the sin and rebellion) because it can be seen and heard all around us. Why? Because we live in a fallen world, still. The 'unbeliever' has no clue of these things and lacks spiritual discernment to realize he/she is in a 'spiritually' fallen state. Until their eyes are opened to Jesus can they remotely fathom their fallen condition.. Jesus must be the center of our sharing him with the world, first.

Fidel Torres

commented on Jun 6, 2013


Vincent Aja

commented on Jun 7, 2013

This is our problem, this report from Barna Group shows how illiterate we are as ..., and that`s why everybody thought that once somebody is in the Church there is assurance of going to heaven when the person dies. And when anybody tells Christians to do more the next thing is to begin to call the person legalist or self righteous. Approximately one-third of politically conservative adults say they have read the Bible, compared with one-tenth of political liberals. Nearly one-third (29) of black adults say they?ve read the Bible from start to finish, more than Hispanic adults (22) and white adults (19). Boomers are the group with the highest likelihood to have read the Bible from start to finish, with nearly one-quarter (23) reporting they had done so. 16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. 17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? 18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? 19 Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator (1Peter 4:16-19). The 98 of the messages going on around us today have to do with self or economic empowerment and have no salvation message in them. Sorry to say this but it`s the real truth. And most Christians like The Barna Group has shown never wanted to read the Bible yet they want to go to heaven. One can see the ratio that have read the Bible completely, and that is why when you are telling somebody that his or her lifestyle matters as a Christian nobody wants to hear that. Someone should read again the warning that the Apostle Peter has given. Even the Lord Jesus`s teaching on the Parable of the Sower shows that it`s only 1/4 of the professed Christians can pass the test to heaven Mark 4:20.

Michael Karpf

commented on Jun 7, 2013

I like the prayer of my pastor before he preaches, "Jesus will you help me to move off to the side and will You take center stage." Now I am praying the same thing when I preach.

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