Nov

20

2012

Jason Helopoulos|5:00 am CT

Preachers for Preachers

Guest Blogger: Jason Helopoulos

Every preacher should be growing in their preaching ability. It is a gift that is to be nurtured. And there are able teachers available. One of the great benefits we have in our age, which did not exist in previous ages, is our ability to hear men from far away at the touch of a button. A good preacher will willing listen to other preachers and seek to nurture the gift given to him.

I have no doubt that some of the most gifted preachers in our time, as in every other age, are unknown outside their local congregations and immediate context. And because I don’t know them, I can’t point to them. Therefore, when I think of some of the gifted expository preachers of our day, the men below are those who come to mind. They all preach according to their own personality and makeup. And this is part of what makes them effective, so preachers don’t try to imitate some of the things they do. However, there are things that a preacher, who is always trying to grow in preaching can learn from them. (And every Christian seeking to grow in the faith would benefit from having these preachers on their iPods and iPads for regular listening).

Their sermons are all marked by the following qualities: attention to the text, it is clearly drawn from the passage they are proclaiming,  hard theological wrestling in the background, they do not shy away from hard teachings, are Christ focused, God-exalting, and usually excellent in application. I appreciate all of them as preachers for these reasons. These are qualities that we should all seek in our preaching. And yet what sets these preachers apart is not only these qualities, but what they each uniquely excel in. And it is these qualities that I want to draw our attention to. What they uniquely excel at are areas that all preachers would benefit from encouraging in their own preaching:

Derek Thomas–Dr. Thomas’ sermons do that which is seemingly difficult, but essential–his sermons tend to send the listener walking away contemplating God and focused upon Him(Thomas sermons)

John Piper–When one thinks of Piper’s preaching, passion and sincerity have to be two of the first thoughts. His biblical preaching is always filled with energy and you know he believes what he is preaching. (Piper sermons)

Tim Keller–His sermons excel at clarity and engaging people in our current western culture. Many preachers are good exegetes of culture. Many are good exegetes of the text. It is not easy to be both, but Keller makes it look easy. (Keller sermons)

CJ Mahaney–There are few better at having sermons anchored with affection-stirring illustrations and pleading that is appropriate in calling lost sinners. (Mahaney sermons)

Sinclair Ferguson–The Scottish accent helps. Who doesn’t like a good Scottish accent? But a few minutes into the sermon you won’t find yourself thinking about Scotland. Ferguson’s sermons drip with theological richness, are always profound, and yet are simple to understand. That is a rare gift indeed! (Ferguson sermons)

Load up your iPod, take a walk, learn, and be blessed. And be a blessing to your people.

15 Comments

  1. Thanks Jason

    What about Alistair Begg?

    Blessings

    Judd Rumley

  2. Judd,

    There are a lot of great preachers out there and Alistair is definitely one of them.

    It may be helpful to all of us if we use the comments to recommend some other preachers we should all listen to and what appears to be distinctly excellent about their preaching.

  3. The British preachers Vaughan Roberts and David Jackman are almost always simple without being simplistic; their sermons excel in their clarity without ever being lightweight. Most importantly, they point us to Christ consistently.

  4. http://tapesfromscotland.org/
    This is a treasure trove filled with sermons from some of the great Scottish Expository preachers: William Still, Eric Alexander, Sinclair Ferguson and a host of others.

  5. Great recommendations. I’ll be honest, I’d throw JR Vassar and Chandler up on the list too. Vassar’s great with the text and good with the culture. Chandler’s good with the text and great with the culture. I’ll just say that between Keller’s theological approach, and Chandler’s style, it helps me hit my college students.

  6. D.A. Carson is also excellent. He takes the most massive mind-boggling concepts and explains them with a crystal clear Gospel focus.

  7. You make mention of the blessing of our time – being able to hear SO MANY great preachers. And it is a blessing. But as with all blessings, there is often a potential curse connected to it.

    Food, for example. What a wonderful blessing! One thinks of manna falling from heaven to feed the hungry. But how quickly people, sinful and dark as we are, seek to horde and glutton-ize the blessing.

    It seems the same type of behavior is possible when it comes to preaching. Having literally thousands of very, very good preachers, whose sermons are all available with a click, can lead to major problems. Those who glutton-ize sermons may, for example, have so much information coming into their minds that hardly any of it can be the subject of serious, long-term meditation. It might be better to hear and deeply meditate on 2 sermons a week as opposed to hearing and shallowly reflecting on 12 sermons a week.

    But in our sin and arrogance we think that more must be better. We think that anyone who would listen to 2 Piper sermons, 2 Driscoll sermons, 4 Begg sermons, and 3 Keller sermons a week, must be holier than someone who goes to church and listens to his unknown pastor preach 1 sermon a week. Even if that 1 sermon has a greater and deeper impact than the collection of the others.

    Part of it, I think, is our desire to brag. We want to be in the loop of the ministries of the big-named guys, so we feel an obligation to take in as many of their sermons as possible.

    Now, let me finish with a balance. I LOVE having access to the sermons of so many great preachers (just as I love having access to a Chinese buffet). And I do think it is important for Christians to take advantage of these ministries. My point is only that we should focus on the quality of sermon-intake much more than the quantity.

  8. I’m with you on the J Pipes (Piper) and TKO (Keller) and Mahaney has taught me much as well. Along with these i regularly go to Matty C (Chandler) b/c – as others have said, he draws from the text unexpected and piercing conclusions/application + he engages at a cultural level that not many can get away with – he also speaks my love language of sarcasm so that helps too. Recently, i have also benefited much from Carl Bomb (Trueman) as he brings an amazing historical context to his his sermons that few others can (let alone do) – very edifying.

  9. First Pres Columbia is incredibly blessed to have both Dr. Ferguson and Dr. Thomas. SermonAudio is giving more exposure to the “unsung” local pastors. I am blessed to hear Dr. David McWilliams every Sunday and Wednesday. His sermons are available at SermonAudio.

  10. He is not a preacher but I would recommend all pastors listen to Carl Trueman’s mp3s at Monergism.com. I would also commend David Coffin as well http://www.newhopefairfax.org/resources/sermons-to-hear.

  11. Carl Trueman (aka. Carl Bomb) is a minster (OPC) as well as a prof at Westminster (as well as an author – reading his ‘Creedal Imperative’ presently)

  12. I can’t help but wonder why Voddie Baucham has not been mentioned. He has a keen ability to identify our cultural norms and contrast them with what we see in Scripture,and does so with a great passion. He also doesn’t come with the theological problems that Tim Keller comes with (not believing in a literal creation account in Gen. 1&2; promoting Catholic mysticism, etc.)

  13. Louis -

    I think you are unfairly singling out Keller. I doubt that John Piper and Sinclair Ferguson believe in a young earth. Keller holds something close to Piper’s view (and probably Ferguson’s) that the earth is old but Adam and Eve were created directly by God. And Keller doesn’t promote Catholic mysticism. He has only said things like Carl Trueman does in “Why Should Thoughtful Evangelicals read the Medieval Mystics”. If Keller promotes these things, so do Trueman, Piper, and others.

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