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Preaching Like Pelagians

I stopped in a restaurant for some take-out on my way home this evening and ran into one of my preaching professors from Asbury. After placing my order, I sat down to chat with him and we quickly found ourselves discussing two of our favorite things – preaching and John Wesley. My prof was talking about how Wesley, like the Reformers, really understood preaching sacramentally, as a means of grace through which God works to convict and save. He then made a comment that stuck with me. He said that for all of our talk about grace and faith, we are really quite Pelagian in our preaching. That is, we are taught as preachers to prop our sermons up with comedy, stories, and various types of illustrations. We think that we have to give the sermon something that will make it effective in the ears of our hearers. In that sense, we are preaching like Pelagians. I commented in response that Wesley seldom (if ever) used illustrations. He would preach on and on about one verse without a single illustration, without a single joke, and God used his preaching to convert thousands and start a revival which now bears his name. Wesley realized that he was a preacher, not a comedian. So, let us realize that we do not bring the effectiveness to our preaching. God does. Preach the Word. Tell the Truth. Trust the Holy Spirit to do the work.

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