One of the most neglected parts of preaching is understanding the role and power of the Holy Spirit in preaching God’s word. As teachers, we spend hours studying, outlining, doing word studies, and thinking through applications. This is important, but without the power of the Holy Spirit our preaching is in vain.
Only the Holy Spirit can change a person’s heart.
Unless the Holy Spirit shows up when we teach, no one will be changed by our messages.
I have realized through years of teaching the Bible, leading small groups, and counseling people that I can’t change anyone. I can’t even change myself. Only the Spirit can transform a person.
And the good news is that the Holy Spirit has come to change people’s hearts. In John 14-16, Jesus explains to us what the Spirit will do in the world. One of the clearest descriptions of the work of the Spirit is John 16:8.
John 16:8 And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment.
The Holy Spirit will draw people to God. Therefore, we desperately need the power of the Spirit in our teaching.
If we want to see the Spirit empower our preaching there are several things we need to do. Before I share these action steps with you, I want to make clear that the Spirit is God. He is sovereign and can do whatever he wishes. We can’t control the Holy Spirit. But there are certain things we can do that will help us experience his power in our preaching.
Pray for the Spirit’s power throughout your preparation time.
In each step of our preparation of a message, we need to ask for the Holy Spirit’s help. The entire process of writing a message needs to be a devotional experience.
We must ask the Spirit for insight and clarity in explaining his word to us. We must ask that he would reveal his truths to us and that it would change our lives before we teach it to others. We must ask him for help in applying the Bible to the lives of our hearers.
Admit that you are powerless without the Holy Spirit.
This happens to me in the hours and moments leading up to delivering a sermon. I wake up the day I am going to teach the Bible with a realization that if the Holy Spirit doesn’t show up and bring power to my words, no one will be changed.
I try and constantly remind myself during the church service that I need the power of the Holy Spirit as I preach. I confess to God that my confidence is in him and not in my ability to speak. Before I preach, I want to be deeply aware of how in need I am of God’s help.
Teach others to rely on the Spirit in their lives.
The power of the Holy Spirit is not just for the preacher. The Spirit wants to work in the lives of all of God’s people.
I try and teach people to seek the Spirit in their lives. They need to learn to rely on the Spirit to help them lead small groups, lead family devotionals, or have meaningful one-on-one conversations with others.
I want to model for people a dependence on the Holy Spirit. Again, without the work of the Spirit, no one will be changed.
- Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
- What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
- How do you know when the Holy Spirit is at work in your teaching?
- How important is prayer in your sermon preparation?
- How aware are you of the Holy Spirit’s work in your life?
- Write a personal action step based on this conversation.