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Preaching Articles

I’m a preacher. That means I love to talk … and talk and talk and talk and talk! The longer I’ve been preaching, and the longer I’ve been around preachers, the more I’ve become convinced that a lot of preaching is done without any awareness of God’s presence.

Now, no one would want to admit that. We would all offer a theologically correct answer about how God is always present and his Spirit tends to the preaching of the Word … blah blah blah.

But, honestly, how many of us are paying attention to the voice of God while we are preaching? Most preachers are paying attention to their well-crafted manuscripts and outlines. You see, God speaks to us through our exegesis while in our studies. Right?

Amen! I agree 100% with that. That is the reason I spend a TREMENDOUS amount of time doing exegesis in my study. I take the Bible seriously, and I believe that God speaks to us through the Bible.

But again, honestly, how many of us are paying attention to the voice of God while we are preaching? Not our manuscripts. Not our outlines. God. Yes, the living God.

This past week I had an interesting experience while preaching. I am currently preaching through the Gospel According to Mark. I was just returning to this book after taking a break from it during the summer. I was very eager to jump back in and plow away, wanting to get through as much of the book as possible before the holiday season arrives.

So off I go, recapping where we left off, setting up the context of the current passage, and beginning to give a bit of insight into the first few verses, when suddenly God spoke …

“Mark, don’t get in my way.”

I froze mid-sentence, wondering…

“What? What does that mean?”

I had been speaking about the way in which Jesus looked upon the crowd with great compassion. I was talking about the brokenness and pain that people suffer and the need to see Jesus as one who looks upon our pain and suffering with great compassion. He doesn’t turn us away, but rather he invites us to him—we must see Jesus as compassionate or we will never come to him.

It was there, at that moment, that I heard God say, “Mark, don’t get in my way.”

It was the gentle and compassionate voice of the One I was calling people to. I could either continue on with my sermon or I could pay attention to the One I was preaching about.

What it really came down to was a question of who was more capable—me or Jesus?

Was I more capable of preaching them out of their pain or was Jesus more capable of being with them in their pain?

I stopped right there. I simply said, “I’m stopping right here. I’m not going to go any further. Instead I’m going to give you space, space to be with this Jesus who sees you in your pain and looks upon you with compassion.”

I took a minute or two to invite them into a time of silence, to sit with Jesus and share their burdens with him while he listened with great love and compassion. I then went and sat down. For the next 15-20 minutes our whole church simply sat in silence and people simply shared their burdens with Jesus. When the service was “officially” over, many people remained seated, continuing in prayer for some time.

I was reminded of something great—Jesus is a much better pastor than I am. He knows his people better than I do. He sees what I can never see. He is capable of doing what I can never do.

My job, and the job of all preachers, is to know Jesus well enough to recognize when it is time to get out of his way.



My name is Mark Moore and I am follower of Jesus. I have the honor of being married to the most wonderful woman in the world and have been blessed with three amazing kids. Ten years ago, as a young and inexperienced pastor, I started Providence Community Church and since that time I have had the unbelievable privilege of serving this great community.

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Lawrence Rae

commented on Sep 17, 2013

Thanks Mark for this reminder of the living presence of the Holy Spirit during our delivery. When Paul prayed that we would be filled with the spirit of Wisdom and Revelation I think he led us right into your experience. The wisdom of God in the exegetical study of the Scriptures is vital to our teaching, but the revelation of God often happens in the moment, in an illustration that suddenly comes to mind, a full stop like you experienced, or even a very particular application that must be opened with our outlines and scripts laid aside. May God continue to bless you with these 'serendipities' of His very real and alive voice while you serve Him in the pulpit.

Mark Roberts

commented on Sep 17, 2013

This is a disappointing article. First, there is no way Mark Moore can know that this was the voice of God. It might have been a trick of the devil (see 2 Cor 11:13ff). Perhaps he had a good word from the Bible that would've really helped people but instead everyone sat in their own subjective-ness and heard nothing from God. Secondly, getting a direct word from God is very rare in Scripture. The vast majority of people in the Bible *never* hear from God like this. Even those who do receive visions and hear from the Lord do so fairly rarely. To act as if we can expect such on a regular basis is not in keeping with God's "modus operandi" as revealed in the Bible. Thirdly, I know of no instance where God interrupted someone's sermon in this fashion. People God is speaking to are given the message to preach from the get-go. Finally, this supposed message was very ambiguous. What it meant was left entirely up to a subjective interpretation in the moment. Where in Scripture do we see anything like this? Can God not speak clearly? He does in His Word! I may be criticized for these comments but I believe advocating a direct revelation from God is outside of what the Bible teaches.

Mark Roberts

commented on Sep 17, 2013

This is a disappointing article. First, there is no way Mark Moore can know that this was the voice of God. It might have been a trick of the devil (see 2 Cor 11:13ff). Perhaps he had a good word from the Bible that would've really helped people but instead everyone sat in their own subjective-ness and heard nothing from God. Secondly, getting a direct word from God is very rare in Scripture. The vast majority of people in the Bible *never* hear from God like this. Even those who do receive visions and hear from the Lord do so fairly rarely. To act as if we can expect such on a regular basis is not in keeping with God's "modus operandi" as revealed in the Bible. Thirdly, I know of no instance where God interrupted someone's sermon in this fashion. People God is speaking to are given the message to preach from the get-go. Finally, this supposed message was very ambiguous. What it meant was left entirely up to a subjective interpretation in the moment. Where in Scripture do we see anything like this? Can God not speak clearly? He does in His Word! I may be criticized for these comments but I believe advocating a direct revelation from God is outside of what the Bible teaches.

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 20, 2013

I wanted to separate this from my other comments above so as not to get confused with separate issues. You wrote that people "heard nothing from God" because the author decided not to continue his sermon on a particular occasion. But you don't actually KNOW for a fact that they heard nothing from God, and I think that is a very wrong assumption to make. Speaking as a "lay-person" and not a pastor, we do not need to depend on a pastor to tell us what the Bible says in order to hear from God. Even if, for the sake of argument, I were to agree with you that God speaks to us solely through the Scriptures and not through direct revelation, we can hear God through the Scriptures for ourselves. And for those who DON'T hear God through the Scriptures for themselves, the pastor's sermon will most likely not do them any good anyway, no matter how "good" a preacher the pastor may be. Sure, Paul tells Timothy to "preach the Word." But he doesn't tell him to do so in every worship service. Most people simply read that into the text because it is what we are used to. But there is not a single text in the Bible that requires that a pastor preach a sermon in every single worship service. Nor is there a single text in the Bible that supports the idea that Christians cannot hear from God if a pastor does not preach a sermon. In fact, I suspect that much of the weakness of contemporary Christianity is due to the fact that most Christians are dependent on a pastor to tell them what God says through his word, instead of hearing God through that word for themselves.

David Evans

commented on Sep 17, 2013

Without being patronising I feel sorry for Mark R. He has missed the joy of these divine interruptions which don't always issue in the kind of response that Mark M experienced. I have often had these "telegrams from heaven" unfolding revelation during a sermon. When what happened to Mark occurs, it is a beautiful divine interruption as Christ discerns what the congregation needs and, in Mark M's case the congregation received ministry by the Holy Spirit. To sour the experience by suggesting that the voice Mark heard might have been the devil is sad indeed. As Paul said, the sons of God are led by the Spirit of God not the other fellow. I have no doubts that it was God Mark heard. Keep listening Mark and thanks for the article. You have many fellow travellers.

Cb Ross

commented on Sep 17, 2013

Like David, I wonder exactly where Mark Roberts is coming from! I can testify to having heard an audible voice - that was what took me into full-time pastoral ministry. I have come with a message prepared, and the Lord has spoken to my heart and changed the message during the preceding time of worship. I recall one particular occasion on which three people were saved through the unplanned message, who would have been unlikely to have been saved (although God the Holy Spirit is capable of using anything I say!) if I had preached the specific message that I had, so diligently, prepared! My concern is that I don't hear Him often enough - and I know whose fault that is!

Zachary Bartels

commented on Sep 19, 2013

Am I "listening" to God's voice while I preach? If I'm preaching God's Word faithfully, I AM God's voice while I preach!

Mark Roberts

commented on Sep 19, 2013

For those who are certain that Mr. Moore heard God speak this excellent article details exactly why what claims is not biblical, nor ultimately helpful to people. It bears careful thought. http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2013/09/18/why-do-we-say-god-told-me/

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 20, 2013

I read the article you suggested. It does bear careful thought and makes many valid points, many of which I agree with. At the end of the day, though, the article represents the author's (and obviously your own) point of view, and is not in itself evidence that the claims made by the present article are unbiblical. I agree that God speaks to us through Scripture. And I have witnessed personally people claim that God "spoke to them" something that clearly contradicted the teachings of Scripture, and that is not right. The phrase "God spoke to me" should not be used as a trump card to justify our own selfish purposes and agendas. But Scripture itself claims that it is not the sole voice of God; and thus it is the belief that God speaks solely through the Scripture and in no other way, which is not biblical and is ultimately unhelpful to people. Hebrews 1:2 tells us that "in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son." Jesus Christ himself is the PRIMARY way in which God speaks to his people in this age. Now, the question is, HOW does God speak to us by his Son. Well, again, we need to begin with the Scriptures (both OT and NT), for it is these that testify of him. But, also again, Scripture points us beyond itself to a direct, interactive relationship with God. Scripture records Jesus' own words in John 5:20, "For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing." Then he goes on to say in John 6:57 that even as he lived BY the Father, those of us who "eat" of Christ shall live BY him. And Paul declares that once I have been crucified with Christ, Christ now lives IN me (Galatians 2:20). It is clear from the teachings of Scripture that Jesus expected for the relationship that he had with the Father to be normative of the relationship that we would have with him, at least in principle if not in the actual details. As the Father loved Christ and showed him all that he was doing, so also Christ loves us and, as he lives IN us, he shows us all that he is doing, inviting us to participate in HIS purpose and agenda. The fact that this may NOT be the normative experience for most Christians simply demonstrates how much we are still centered in our own selves, rather than in God. So, how does this look like in practice? Likely, most of us will never hear God's audible voice. I certainly haven't. But that does not mean he does not speak to us. What happens is that as we immerse ourselves in the Scripture and internalize it in our lives, we become sensitive to the ways of God so that we recognize where he is at work in our lives. This keeps us open to God's direction and guidance while at the same time providing the teachings of Scripture as the standard by which to test such direction and guidance, and make sure that it is not a "trick of the devil" as you pointed out earlier. You are right, Satan can impersonate the voice of God. But those who are saturated in his Word will be able to distinguish between God's guidance and Satan's counterfeit. Significantly, Paul NEVER discourages revelations. Paul never writes, "You have the Scriptures, you do not need any more special revelation." Instead, Paul encourages the use of discernment in determining if that revelation is of God.

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 20, 2013

Mark, let me try to share my previous comments from a different angle. Most of the people who comment on this site, from my understanding, are pastors. Not all, of course, as I am an exception. But, is it safe to assume that you yourself are a pastor? If so, then let me put it this way. I've known many pastors throughout my life, and most have shared at some point a certain moment in their life when they felt they were "called" to be a pastor. Have you every had such an experience yourself? Have you ever felt that you were called to be a pastor? If so, then you have received a direct revelation of God for your life, in the way I understand it. It is a revelation that is outside of Scripture, in that there is no Biblical verse that commands Mark Roberts to be a pastor. Yet, assuming you meet the qualifications listed, this revelation does not contradict Scripture. It is a direct revelation of God for your life, specifically. Most of these calls that I've heard did not involve hearing God's audible voice. But it WAS God speaking directly to the person, nonetheless.

Anthony Collins

commented on Sep 19, 2013

Great article Mark! One of the things that we find so difficult to do as we prepare our messages is to leave room for the Holy Spirit. I praise Jesus for His encouragement for me to prepare, but not do so to the point that I have left out the opportunity for Him to intervene as I am speaking with a "rhema" word. I can tell you that the most impactful points and messages are those that Christ has downloaded to me in the midst of my teaching moment. I can even remember one Sunday when He wouldn't even let me preach the message that I had prepared and supernaturally showed me a completely different message and it was so impactful. What a mighty God we serve. I am saddened for the congregation of those who don't hear from The Lord as they go about the spiritual business of the Gospel and claim to be called by God to lead. I pray for a deeper revelation of God in their lives and that they will hear Him speak to them plainly about what area of ministry that He has called them.

commented on Sep 20, 2013

Many a times, it is very difficult for the ordained pastors to satisfy the entire congregation as they belong to different age groups and different sectors. But it is high time that they should find the reason for the void in their messages. Really this is a thought provoking venture.

commented on Sep 20, 2013

Really this is a thought provoking venture.

Jason Cardwell

commented on Sep 20, 2013

To Mark Roberts, regarding the article you link to: the author writes: Graeme Goldsworthy speaks to this question in his book Gospel and Wisdom. He writes, "Every case of special guidance given to individuals in the Bible has to do with that person's place in the outworking of God's saving purposes." He adds, "There are no instances in the Bible in which God gives special and specific guidance to the ordinary believing Israelite or Christian in the details of their personal existence." This is deceptive for two reasons. First God DID speak to people in areas that don't have anything to do with "redemption history," as traditionally understood. God spoke to Hagar, and her offspring were NOT connected to the line of Jesus. God told Agabus about a famine in the NT, which was information for the people at that time, but didn't have anything to do with the plan of salvation. Second, since the church has been given the Great Commission, our lives are just as much connected to the expansion of the kingdom as the NT saints were, so if God can tell them to set apart missionaries, not to travel to certain regions or cities, and that they should not call unclean that which God has called clean, then why should we expect today's church to be cut off from this aspect of the working of God?

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