Preaching Articles

There is a lot of preaching today that does not address the reality of our membership in the kingdom of God. Neither does it address the reality of the “present evil world” (Galatians 1:4) that we might be delivered from it. We often fall into the trap of preaching that is designed to merely provide tools to help us become better situated or more successful in this present world rather than helping us to become ambassadors of the coming Kingdom.

Not Celebrating Poverty

Please note, I am not talking about “celebrating poverty” or “making poverty a virtue” as some have accused me. I am talking about the reality that the Kingdom is our focus. Some of us will become successful down here. God will provide opportunities to some of us to place us in visible and even powerful locations like Daniel and Joseph, but that was not their focus. Their focus was the kingdom. Their focus was to do God’s will. Their focus was to be ambassadors of God’s kingdom.

I often refer to a sermon in which the preacher gave a lesson in how to get ahead at work by using the story of Joseph. His sermon title was “How to Be Successful at Work.” His points were something along the lines of, “You must be tenacious”. “You must not take no for an answer,” “You must never give up,” etc. Such sermons don’t confront the culture either inside or outside the communion of faith. It doesn’t shake the lost into a realization of their condition. It doesn’t demonstrate to the culture that it is different than the principles of God.

Virtual Debate as Preaching?

But there are other kinds of sermons. I heard another sermon once where the preacher did a virtual debate between presidential candidates on a few select topics. At the end of the discussion the people came away feeling that one party was clearly God’s choice and the other was akin to voting for the devil.

You have all had such discussions. Usually it is the Republican side that is God’s side in these discussions, but then sometimes it is the Democrats who are God’s choice. Such a mentality comes woefully short of the reality that neither side is God’s kingdom. Yes, voting is our responsibility as citizens, but ultimately we know that neither side is even a vague approximation of the kingdom of God.

The Gospel is crazy different. It is so different that it requires a change to understand it. A change called a new birth. It comes and tells a scientifically oriented society that a dead man rose from the grave and that he is still with us by an overriding spirit. It tells us that even though we see pain and heartache that is not God’s ultimate intention and all you see will be remade. It tells us that those whom the world considers “losers” are actually the winners in the kingdom of God. It tells us that being nice is not the kingdom of God; it is a radically different way of being in this world.

Let the Gospel Confront

But we often take these confrontational messages and set them aside. “It is hard for the rich to get to the kingdom” (Matthew 19:24) becomes, "Don’t worry about your riches, just pay 10 percent and you will be all right." No, we have removed the “offense of the cross” (Galatians 5:15) and replaced it with a flag being waved by an elephant or a donkey.

So go ahead, dear preacher. It may not seem to make sense, but how could the gospel make sense? A dead man raised, good triumphing over evil, and the losers are actually the winners. Go ahead and preach about one who gave his life for another. Go ahead even though it doesn't make sense. The last time some folks really got ahold of that message, somebody said that they “turned the world upside down” Acts 17:6.

Sherman Haywood Cox II is the director of Soul Preaching. He holds the M.Div with an emphasis in Homiletics and a M.S. in Computer Science.

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Mike O Sullivan

commented on Apr 30, 2014

Good article

Rob Tennant

commented on Apr 30, 2014

Great post - I agree wholeheartedly and I strive for what you're talking about when I preach.

Suresh Manoharan

commented on Apr 30, 2014

A well-intentioned article. Actually the Kingdom "Baselia" in Greek is better-understood by using Scripture to interpret the Scripture. Both Matt 6:33 and Romans 14:17 use the same term. It is essentially "righteousness, peace and joy of the Holy Spirit". When Jesus said we need to seek it earnestly He meant we need to seek RIGHT RELATIONSHIP with God with which would come peace and Joy of the indwelling Spirit-the abundant life which He promised (John 10:10). Once we seek this right relationship with God along with abundant life, then Heaven too with pearly gates and golden streets is thrown into the "package deal" on the other hand if we pine only for Heaven with all its allurements we would be no better or worse than the Israelites' of the Wilderness journey who craved the Promised Land more than the right relationship with the Giver of the Promised Land. Let's always seek right relationship with Him as also little foretaste of Heaven, He gives right here first more than anything else.

Steve Dunning

commented on Apr 30, 2014

Amen and Amen! Thanks for sharing!

E L Zacharias

commented on Jan 12, 2019

Amen, Suresh! Notice that Jesus isn't talking just about a kingdom yet to come. He says to some, "You are Near the kindgom," or "You are not far from the kingdom of God." The kingdom is where Jesus is. When you believe in him as the Christ, the appointed Savior and Lord, you HAVE eternal life. When you lose your faith in him, you've lost the kingdom. The benefit of believing is not simply a future in "heaven," but knowing you are forgiven and holy and an heir of God having the gift of eternal life.

Sherman Haywood Cox Ii

commented on Feb 22, 2019

Thanks for you responses..when I said..."Coming Kingdom"...But I didn't mean the kingdom is not here at all now..only that it is not "Fully Here"....I didn't mean that the Kingdom was something totally in the is for today..and we are ambassadors of that Kingdom....I apologize for not making that more clear...Today we preach that people may live their life DOWN HERE...

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