T4G Article 4 – Alistair Begg on Sermon Preparation

T4G Article 4 – Alistair Begg on Sermon Preparation March 16, 2007
Note: Please keep Pastor Begg in your prayers as he has recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer and is scheduled for surgery on April 23rd.

In a booklet entitled, “Preaching for God’s Glory,” written for the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, Alistair Begg shares some practical points about his own method of sermon preparation, which he learned from an older minister while he was still a theological student:
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    It is all right and often beneficial to avoid the proud assumption that we know initially what everything means . . . it is always good to train our minds to expect the unexpected . . . The point is, if we do not become thinking pastors, we are unlikely to have thinking congregations.
    There are certain books we should return to routinely. Baxter’s The Reformed Pastor, Augustine’s Confessions, and as daunting as we may find it, Calvin’s Institutes. I also find great profit in reading biographies. The two volumes on Lloyd-Jones should be a prerequisite for all pastors, as well as at least the first volume on Whitefield by Arnold Dallimore.
    Aside from the essential empowering of the Holy Spirit, if there is one single aspect of sermon preparation that is most closely tied to fluency of speech and impact in delivery, it is this: freedom of delivery in the pulpit depends upon careful organization in the study.
    There is no chance of fire in the pews if there is an iceberg in the pulpit; and without personal prayer and communion with God during the preparation stages, the pulpit will be cold . . . We dare not divorce our preaching from our praying.
    There is nothing quite so ridiculous as . . . the preacher who wishes he was someone else . . . James Stewart used to say, “Be yourself, but also, forget yourself!” … If people leave worship saying, “What an amazing preacher!” we have failed. Instead we must long for them to say, “What a great God, and what a privilege it is to meet him in his Word, as we have just done.”

    Alistair Begg, Preaching for God’s Glory, Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals Series “Today’s Issues”, Crossway Books, Wheaton, Illinois, 1999, pp.40-45.

I particularly like the way this reflects our dependence on the Holy Spirit – as Begg puts it, we need “the essential empowering of the Holy Spirit” to take our preparation and set it ablaze.
The next post in this series on preaching (T4G Statement, Article 4) continues with John Stott’s thoughts concerning sermon preparation. It can be found here.

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