Zealous Preaching

Preachers, call sinners to come to Christ and cry out like the blind man, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

A zealous preacher, aided by the Holy Spirit, will seek to put the heartbeat of Christ into his hearers. Preaching is not just an exchange of information, it is an exchange of energy, of communicating with passion the heart of Christ into others.

 

In the Westminster Larger Catechism, six qualities are given in answer to Question 159, “How is the Word of God to be preached by those that are called thereunto?” One of the qualities stated is that preaching is to be done “zealously.” What is zealous preaching and how can it be cultivated? Here are five encouragements.

Zealous preaching can only be done by zealous preachers who love the people of God. The WLC answer goes on to say that zealous preaching demonstrates “fervent love to God and the souls of his people.” Preachers must have a sincere love for the people to whom they are preaching.

A corresponding document to the catechism, The Westminster Directory of Public Worship, describes zealous preaching as having a “loving affection” and a “hearty desire to do them (the congregants) good.” Cold-hearted, brain-dulling, browbeating, unimaginative preaching is not showing love to people. As Sinclair Ferguson states, the minister is not to be “lugubrious (i.e. sad, dismal, burdensome) and censorious, but rather filled with a loving affection for those to whom he ministers and preaches.”[1]

Yet this truth goes deeper. T. David Gordon asks this question, “Do hearers get the impression that the minister is for them (eager to see them blessed richly by a gracious God), or against them (eager to put them in their place, scold them, reprimand them, or punish them?).”[2] At the heart of preaching is loving people enough to tell them what they need in a manner that convinces them that you also need it and have nothing but their best interest in mind as you tell them. The preacher must thus know his flock. “Christ did not ordain pastors on the principle that they only teach the Church in a general way on the public platform, but that they care for
the individual sheep, bring back the wandering and scattered to the fold, bind up the broken and crippled, heal the sick, support the frail and weak.”[3]

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