Pastors: Preach, Don’t Rant

Pastors are called to preach sermons, not deliver rants. What differentiates the two?

To be sure, the preacher’s reputation, credentials, self-presentation, and speaking style may add credibility to the man and the message. However, true authority is much deeper—and much more lasting—than these superficialities. Simply put, a sermon’s authority is derived from Holy Scripture’s authority. The more Scripture is presented, rightly interpreted, and brought to bear on the congregation, the more authority the sermon—and the preacher—will have.

 

Pastors are called to preach sermons, not deliver rants. Too often God’s people are subjected to the latter, but it is the former they truly need. This distinction struck me several years ago while co-preaching a conference with several other pastors.

I sensed we were in for a rant when one of the speakers declined a microphone, assuring the sound-booth attendant he would be sufficiently loud without it. When his moment to preach came, he did not disappoint. I was as amazed at his volume as I was disturbed by his handling of the text.

Pastors are called to preach sermons, not deliver rants. What differentiates the two?

Possessing Authority, Not Just Pulling Rank

To be sure, the preacher’s reputation, credentials, self-presentation, and speaking style may add credibility to the man and the message. However, true authority is much deeper—and much more lasting—than these superficialities.

Simply put, a sermon’s authority is derived from Holy Scripture’s authority. The more Scripture is presented, rightly interpreted, and brought to bear on the congregation, the more authority the sermon—and the preacher—will have.

Paul exhorted Titus, “These things (Scripture) speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.”[1] In this sense, we should aim to speak as Christ spoke, who, “when he had finished speaking, the crowds were amazed at His teaching: for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.”[2]

When we preach with the authority of the text, the sermon arrives with a “Thus Sayeth the Lord” ring to it—resounding with true, biblical authority, which God himself bestows through his inerrant Word.

Conversely, if a sermon does not come with the weight of Scripture behind it, the preacher is merely pulling rank—insisting the crowd obey his message because of the position he holds or the block of wood he is standing behind. If this is the case, the pulpit more resembles a soapbox, and the sermon more a rant.

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