Kent Hughes, one of my modern day expositional heroes, wrote this preface to his commentary on Mark. After what I posted yesterday, I pass it on to you as a worthy read. This should be especially meaningful to any of you who preach the Word and hopefully encouraging to those of you who regularly experience the pleasure of God when you listen to the Word declared. Thanks Kent.
A Word to those who preach the Word:
There are times when I am preaching that I have especially sensed the pleasure of God. I usually become aware of it through the unnatural silence. The ever-present coughing ceases and the pews stop creaking, bringing an almost physical quiet to the sanctuary…
There is nothing quite like it – the Holy Spirit filling one’s sails, the sense of his pleasure, and the awareness that something is happening among one’s hearers…
What has happened when this takes place? How do we account for this sense of his smile? The first reason for his smile is the logos – in terms of preaching God’s Word. This means that as we stand before God’s people to proclaim his Word, we have done our homework. We have exegeted the passage, mined the significance of its words in their context, and applied sound hermeneutical principles in interpreting the text so that we understand what its words meant to its hearers. And it means that we have labored long until we can express in a sentence what the the theme of the text is – so that our outline springs from the text. Then our preparation will be such that as we preach, we will not be preaching our own thoughts about God’s Word, but God’s actual Word, his logos. This is fundamental to pleasing him in preaching.
The second element in knowing God’s smile in preaching is ethos – what you are as a person. There is a danger endemic to preaching, which is having your hands and heart cauterized by holy things… Though we can never perfectly embody the truth we preach, we must be subject to it, long for it, and make it as much a part of our ethos as possible… When the preacher’s ethos back’s up his logos, there will be the pleasure of God.
Last, there is pathos – personal passion and conviction. David Hume, the scottish philosopher and skeptic, was once challenged as he was seen going to hear George Whitefield peach: “I thought you do not believe in the gospel.” Hume replied, “I don’t, but he does.” Just so! When a preacher believes what he preaches, there will be passion. And this belief and requisite passion will know the smile of God.
The pleasure of God is a matter of logos (the Word), ethos (what you are), and pathos (your passion). As you preach the Word may you experience his smile – the Holy Spirit in your sails!
– R. Kent Hughes