Sermon Illustrations on PReaching
Donald Grey Barnhouse, former pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, tells the story of his revered professor at Princeton Theological Seminary, Robert Dick Wilson, a renowned scholar of astounding linguistic ability. About twelve years after Barnhouse had graduated from the seminary, he was invited back to speak at the chapel. Professor Wilson was present for the service, and afterward he approached the speaker with these words: “if you come back again, I will not come hear you preach. I come only once. I am glad that you are a big-godder. When my boys come back, I come to see if they are big-godders or little-godders, and then I know what their ministry will be.”
When Barnhouse asked for an explanation, Wilson replied, “Well, some men have a little god and they are always in trouble with him. He can’t do any miracles. He can’t take care of the inspiration and transmission of the Scripture to us. He doesn’t intervene on behalf of his people. They have a little god and I call them little-godders. Then there are those who have a great God. He speaks and it is done. He commands and it stands fast. He knows how to show Himself strong on behalf of them that fear Him. You have a great God, and He will bless your ministry!
God’s Word and Calvinism vs. Arminianism
It has been my earnest endeavor ever since I have preached the Word, never to keep back a single doctrine that I believe to be taught of God. It is time that we had done with the old and rusty systems that have so long curbed the freeness of religious speech.
The Arminian trembles to go an inch beyond Arminius or Wesley, and many a Calvinist refers to John Gill or John Calvin as an ultimate authority. It is time that the systems were broken up, and that there was sufficient grace in all our hearts to believe everything taught in God’s Word, whether it was taught by either of these men or not.
If God teaches it, it is enough. If it is not in the Word, away with it! Away with it! But if it be in the Word, agreeable or disagreeable, systematic or disorderly, I believe it.
Charles Spurgeon, in a sermon delivered at Exeter Hall, London.
A Red-Hot Iron
“Teaching is no joke, sonny! … Comforting truths, they call it! Truth is meant to save you first, and the comfort comes afterwards. Besides, you’ve no right to call that sort of thing comfort. Might as well talk about condolences! The Word of God is a red-hot iron. And you who preach it ‘ud go picking it up with a pair of tongs, for fear of burning yourself, you daren’t get hold of it with both hands. It’s too funny!
Why, the priest who descends from the pulpit of Truth, with a mouth like a hen’s vent, a little hot but pleased with himself, he’s not been preaching: at best he’s been purring like a tabby-cat. Mind you that can happen to us all, we’re all half asleep, it’s the devil to wake us up, sometimes — the apostles slept all right at Gethsemane. Still, there’s a difference… And mind you many a fellow who waves his arms and sweats like a furniture-remover isn’t necessarily any more awakened than the rest. On the contrary. I simply mean that when the Lord has drawn from me some word for the good of souls, I know, because of the pain of it.”
Regarding my Preaching
I came to this resolved principle, that I would preach wholly and altogether sound and wholesome words, without affectation of wit and vanity of eloquence. . . . I . . . have continued in that purpose and practice these threescore years. I have preached what I thought was truly edifying, either for conversion, or bringing them up to eternal life.
Thomas Goodwin, Works, ed. J. Miller (London: James Nichol, 1861), 2.1xivf. Cited in J. I. Packer, A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life (Wheaton: Crossway, 1990), 74.
Still Looking for inspiration?
Consider checking out our quotes page on Preaching. Don’t forget, sometimes a great quote is an illustration in itself!
Follow us on social media:
Sign up here for our free weekly resources. You’ll discover new and exciting additions to the library and receive our top 10 Sermon Illustrations & Quotes!