The Ultimate Source of Authority in Preaching

April 26, 2013

There is something inherently horrid about human beings who claim and attempt to wield a personal authority they do not possess. It is particularly inappropriate in the pulpit. When a preacher pontificates like a tinpot demagogue, or boasts of his power and glory as Nebuchadnezzar did on the roof of his royal palace in Babylon (Dan. 4:28, 29), he deserves the judgment which fell on that dictator . . . .

But suppose in our preaching we are careful to demonstrate that the authority with which we preach inheres neither in us as individuals, nor primarily in our offices as clergy or preachers, nor even in the church whose members and accredited pastors we may be, but supremely in the Word of God which we expound? Then the people should be willing to hear, particularly if we put the matter beyond doubt by showing that we desire to live under this authority ourselves.

– John Stott, Between Two Worlds, 58, emphasis mine.

So what?

  1. Where do we really believe the authority in preaching resides?
  2. How is that belief reflected in the way we preach?
  3. Does our use of Scripture in the sermon confirm or belie our belief?
  4. Does our manner, spirit, and tone in preaching reflect that we are ultimately under the authority of Scripture?

Kerry McGonigal

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In Adam by birth but in Christ by grace. That's my story. Husband to one and father of three. Pastor, homiletics teacher, and passionate proponent of expository preaching. If you like what you've read and want to be notified of future posts, take a second and subscribe via RSS or email (on the right sidebar). Opinions expressed here are my own.