Preaching & Grace

24 01 2009


Paul Preaching in Athens      

Paul Preaching in Athens    

     The more I study and experience the role of grace in my own life as well as in my preaching, the more I realize the vastness of God’s grace and the human impossibility of its complete comprehension.  Because preaching is what I do, I have particularly been thinking about the question, “What role should grace play in a preacher’s understanding and explanation of Scripture?”

     Well, first, grace keeps the sermon focused on God instead of on man, on the Creator instead of the creature.  Grace keeps the preacher from falling into the trap of moralizing and proclaiming a legalistic ‘to do’ list.  When the preacher is looking at a text, his focus must always be on God and God’s gracious eternal plan of redemption.  He should point his congregation to the fact that whatever they might hope to achieve comes from a life that is centered on and surrendered to Christ, because any hope to achieve comes only through Christ alone, not from good works or personal efforts.

     Paul writes in Romans 3: 22-24, “The righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe there is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”  This text makes it clear that our salvation comes only by God’s grace.  Taking the text in context, the preacher must fully understand and then explain that it is Christ who gives us salvation as a free gift of His grace and our salvation is secured solely in Him.  Therefore, it should always be at the forefront of the preacher’s preparation and study that “the Bible requires us to construct our message in such a way as to reveal the grace that is the ultimate focus of every text.”

    Grace must not just be central in a preacher’s study, understanding and explanation of of Scripture, but equally important when it comes to how he applies Scripture for daily living.  Preachers should motivate their listeners by grace, not guilt.  As Bryan Chapell has written, “If God has freed His people from the guilt and power of sin, then preachers have no right to seek holiness by putting believers back under the weight Jesus bore.”   

     The preacher must understand and make clear that it is God’s grace that gives us what we need to please our Heavenly Father.  Philippians 2:13 makes the point quite succinctly, “For is is God who works in you to will and act according to His good pleasure.”  In his book, Holiness by Grace Dr. Chapell writes, “Though it flows through us, the righteousness that sanctifies us before God originates in Him.  We strive in the strength that He generates, reach for Him with the love that He instills, and trust Him with the faith that He provides.”  This is true for every believer.  For the preacher specifically one could say that though the sermon flows through him, it originated in God and is a product of His grace.

     So, how does the preacher motivate his listeners to apply the truths of God’s Word to their lives?  Certainly not through guilt or fear, for their effect is short lived at best.  The answer to the question can be found in the words of the Puritan preacher, Samuel Bolton when he wrote three hundred years ago, “There is nothing more powerful than love.”    Again, Chapell speaks convincingly, “What compels the mother back into the burning building for her child is love.  And what most powerfully and persistently compels us to obey God when there is no apparent earthly gain is love inspired by the mercy of God in Christ.”

     We are loved by God, saved by His grace and adopted as His children through His mercy.  Romans 8:15 explains, “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.  And by Him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’”  Just as a small child does with his earthly father, we are motivated to please our heavenly father out of a graceful heart consumed by love.  

     My prayer is that this will be the focus of my preacher and the motivation for holiness in my life and in my preaching.



6 responses

14 02 2009


Your post about preaching and grace comes at a crossroads in my life. I am slowly realizing that I’ve been sitting under preaching that is heavy on exhortation and light on grace. Not that grace is not preached, but it is not emphasized to the extent it should be. If you asked our pastor, he would agree 100% that grace is necessary in the life of a believer. However, his sermons focus on practical application. This is what I was trying to get across on my post on relevance. We want our sermons to be ‘relevant’ and practical; “Pastor, tell me what I need to do to be a better ________.” You hit the nail on the head when you said that obedience flows from a clearer understanding of the grace in which we live.

Thanks for further clarifying what is going on in my own mind.

p.s. I would like to add you to my blogroll!

1 06 2010

If Grace isn’t being preached and taught always, then it isn’t the gospel.

30 01 2011

Grace is fundamental to live a life that pleases God and bring joy to the heart of man…
A place to learn of Him!

13 03 2011

thanks to the Law, without the Law, we can never know Grace :). Thanks be to Jesus cause He is our GRACE. Praise the Father for giving us His Precious Son. I’m beloved.

25 07 2011
Georgiana Craven Salter

Grace has changed my mind about everything!
Thank you for preaching about the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ!

18 08 2011
Camino Al Exito

When the Gospel (unaltered) is preached, the righteousness of God is revealed (is taught, is manifested, and experienced in life) which starts in faith and ends in faith.
Sin shall not have dominion over us because we are under grace. The more grace is preach, the less sin we shall see because it puts our eyes in Jesus instead of ourselves. The more “law” (as in things we should do) we preach, the more sin will be revealed because that is the work of the law, to show us how sinful we are without Christ. The life of a Christian is constant receiving (Romans 5:17) not performing. Because if we perform to obtain a blessing then faith is made void and the promises of God made of no effect (Romans 4:14). I think am starting to preach lol. Sorry, i guess my comment is: Let’s preach more about God’s grace and as a result, the body of Christ will experience God’s favor. It will be visible!

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