The Importance of Preaching

An Interview with Dr. Tom Farrell

In what ways does preaching rely on the power of the Holy Spirit?

Apart from the power of the Holy Spirit, you don’t have a sermon, you just have a lecture. I learned many, many years ago I cannot preach without the power of the Holy Spirit. The Scriptures were inspired by the Spirit moving human writers. Now, we are not technically inspired like that today, but we must preach the Word of God in the power of the Holy Spirit who gave it. Like the song says, “All is vain unless the Spirit of the Holy One comes down.”

Should a preacher expect results?

Absolutely. Charles Spurgeon said, “He preaches best who preaches and believes for souls every time.” Faith is a complete confidence in Christ. If the Bible tells us that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation, then that hasn’t changed! Why wouldn’t we expect God to use His Word to convert? In Acts 2, on the day of Pentecost, a fisherman who once had denied Christ now declared Him. Because of this declaration, three thousand people came to Christ! Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So, if indeed the Spirit of God, through the servant of God, who was preaching the Scripture of God, wrought eternal results in the first century, why shouldn’t we believe the same thing can happen today? We should absolutely expect results.

How would you describe the work of an evangelist?

An “evangel” is a herald of the Good News. We (evangelists) are short-term, where a pastor is more long-term. Interestingly enough, in Ephesians 4:11–16, the evangelist and the pastor were given to the church actually for the same purpose: to edify the people for the work of the ministry, for the unity of the body of Jesus Christ. Both should be edifying the saints.

As an evangelist, what do you focus on in your messages?

I preach what I call “double barrel” messages, preaching to both saints and sinners. A lot of the specific content of an evangelist’s message has to do with the goals of the pastor with whom the evangelist is working and the type of audience to whom he is preaching. I put the gospel in every message.

In preaching, what do you begin with first—a theme, idea, or a text?

Normally, you’ll get your text first. Out of the text comes the theme or the big idea. The title will focus on the theme, and the points of the message will support the main point of the message.

What is the importance of choosing a text first?

I believe in expositional preaching (“ex” is out, “pose” is to display), not “impositional.” You are displaying out of the text what it says. We are never of this mindset: “That looks like a nice text. I can teach what I wish from it.” Spurgeon said, “If it’s new, it’s not true. And if it’s true, it’s not new.” The preacher should always start with the text, study the text, and “let the text speak.”

How would you describe the significance of preaching for future generations?

First Corinthians 1:21 tells us that preaching was and still is God’s idea: “It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” He has not changed his mind for this present or future generation. Second Timothy 4:2 is still God’s command for the preacher and we are to preach, “In season or out of season.” What some “theologians” may feel is outdated, God says is not dated but relevant for every generation. Preaching is not just important to God; it is imperative to Him, whether it is the first century or the twenty-first century!

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