I highly recommend Iain Murray’s lecture “Conditions for Powerful Preaching,” the first installment in his series “Preaching in History,” which you can download and listen to for free from Sermon Audio.
Right after the 36:20 mark, Iain Murray says:
Jeremiah Burroughs, one of the Westminster divines, commenting on Matthew 28:18-19, says, “When Christ sends forth his disciples to preach, he makes this preface: ‘All power is given unto me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and teach.’ As if he should say, ‘I have received all power in heaven and earth. Through the power I received, I send you to preach. And I will be with you to the end of the world.’
“So,” Burroughs says, “the concern of ministers should be that Christ should preach in them–and likewise, the concern of gospel hearers! They should not say, ‘Come, let us go hear such a man preach.’ Oh no! But, ‘Let us go hear Christ preach.’
“It concerns you that hear not to come to hear this man or that man, but come to hear Jesus Christ.”
[This is the] Puritan view of preaching. Preachers are workers together with him, and it is God’s power alone that gives preaching its saving effect.
Obviously, ministers have an active role in preaching, and we who preach ought to be careful to immerse ourselves in the Word and in prayer.
But hearing the Word of God preached is an active role as well. When we hear the Word of God preached, we do not hear a man preaching, but we actually hear Christ preach! Such an awesome privilege–to hear Christ himself preaching in and through the minister–should encourage us both to prepare and to listen to Christ carefully.
How to Prepare to Hear Christ Preach
Here are a few ideas as you prepare each week to hear Christ preach on the Lord’s Day.
- Study the Word during the week. Nothing tunes your ear and whets your appetite to hear Christ preach on the Lord’s Day more than listening to him speak in his Word through the week.
- Pray during the week. Pray for your pastor as he prepares for Christ to preach through him, and pray that God will give you ears to hear Christ preaching through him.
- On the Lord’s Day, rest from your normal activities. God commands us to rest from our normal work on Sunday “that you may know that I, the LORD, sanctify you” (Ex. 31:13). By resting from our normal activities, we avoid the week’s distractions, and we depend upon Christ to sanctify us through his Word.
- Expect to hear Christ preach. Go to worship in the joyful expectation that Christ himself will speak through the preacher. Listen with all the diligence of Martha, sitting at the feet of Jesus, choosing and delighting in the good portion of the gospel.