The prophets will become wind;
the word is not in them.  Jeremiah 5:13

“[The sermons] are the words of one who has felt himself forced to speak by a greater than human power. . . . the tremendous impetus behind the preacher.”

A report of the preaching of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, recorded in Iain H. Murray, David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The First Forty Years, 1899-1939 (Edinburgh, 1982), page 144.

True preaching is more than preaching truth.  It is also deeply personal.  It rises from within a man.  He is fully aware and engaged and intelligent.  But he is forced to speak, compelled not by the expectations of others around but by the power of God within.

A man can preach the word, but still the word is not in him.  It has not yet become interior to him, experientialized to him, a part of him.  Such preaching is mere wind.  True preaching is brewed within, as the gospel enters into a man, floods his awareness, rearranges his own interiority, and surges out of him as something divine and yet still his own.

To preach in the power of the Holy Spirit is not to take a good thing and make it even better.  Preaching the truth in one’s own strength is destructive (1 Corinthians 1:17).  “The word is not in him.”  Preaching the gospel in the power of God is the only true preaching.  All lesser preaching is sinful and to be repented of.

May the Lord help all of us pastors!  May we resolve, God helping us, never again to preach a single sermon without power from on high — and deep within!

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2 thoughts on “Preaching flows from deep within”

  1. Ryan Parish says:

    Amen! I have preached both ways, and I can testify that there is a noticeable difference for the preacher himself as well as those who hear when I’m preaching a word that has had its way with me before I spoke. When I have only wrestled with outlines and illustrations, I have cheated God, myself and my hearers. When I have wrestled with the truth in the text – the reality about God and His kingdom that is revealed there – I have found that I can serve God and my hearers because I have been served by God Himself. What a privilege! Thanks for posting this reminder to a preacher prone to distraction.

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Ray Ortlund


Ray Ortlund is senior pastor of Immanuel Church in Nashville, Tennessee, and serves as a Council member with The Gospel Coalition. You can follow him on Twitter.

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