Preaching has fallen on hard times in our day. Many insist that pulpit ministries are boring, ineffective, outdated, and irrelevant. And if you listen to a sampling of sermons from various pulpits, there is an element of some truth to the frustrations.
So how does the preacher who wants to preach the word of God not get in the way and make the sermon become the Sunday morning equivalent to the flight attendant’s reading of the pre-flight safety instructions?
Author and pastor Jack Hughes has some ideas. He has written a very helpful book entitled Expository Preaching with Word Pictures. Hughes is convinced for the need of more colorful and descriptive preaching in our day. To help with the task he enlists the pen of Puritan Thomas Watson. Watson is renown for his ability to carve spiritual truth into our minds through powerfully weighted words.
Consider these examples:
“Zeal in a minister is as proper as fire on the altar. Some are afraid to reprove, like the swordfish which has a sword in his head, but is without a heart. So they carry the sword of the Spirit with them—but have no heart to draw it out in reproof against sin. How many have sown pillows under their people, Ezek. 13:18, making them sleep so securely, that they never awoke until they were in hell!”
“The sins of the wicked pierce Christ’s side. The sins of the godly go to his heart.”
“A godly man loves the Word preached, which is a commentary upon the Word written. This day-star has risen in his heart, and ushered in the Sun of righteousness. The Scriptures are the sovereign oils and balsams; the preaching of the Word is the pouring of them out. The Scriptures are the precious spices; the preaching of the Word is the beating of these spices, which causes a wonderful fragrance and delight.”
Hughes labors to prove the Scriptural basis to use (and not abuse) word pictures and illustrations. He interacts with many of the popular objections and then continues to demonstrate biblically the need for such a practice in the pulpit.
In the chapter entitled “Do is yourself Word Pictures” Hughes endeavors to help preachers find illustrations and word pictures in their lives and world around them. This is a most helpful chapter for preachers. He follows this chapter with a word of caution to those who may be given unto excess and misuse the pens of word pictures by scribbling over and veiling the very text they intending to highlight.
Finally, Hughes includes a 100 page appendix of topical organized quotes from Thomas Watson. This is a very helpful resource for the Bible teacher; if you can’t think of something on your own you can cruise on back to Watson’s pantry and borrow some of his supplies.
Expository Preaching with Word Pictures is a helpful tool for preachers; I found it very encouraging and instructive.
You may pick up a copy of this book at Amazon.