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Pastoral Book Reviews – The Supremacy of God in Preaching
Reviewed by Dr. C. Matthew McMahon
The Supremacy of God in Preaching
by John Piper
Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI: 1993, fifth printing.
115 Pages, Paperback
The goal of preaching is to glorify God. This is the aim of Piper’s book: he desires to excite preachers to preach rightly – to Glorify God. Preaching is lacking because theology is lacking, according to Piper. (I agree!). If theology became important to preachers, instead of satisfying the congregation with things which tickle their ears, then preaching in America, and around the world, would improve. In this short book of 7 chapters, Piper demonstrates why God should be supreme in preaching, and how to make Him supreme in preaching.
Overall, Piper’s book hits hard into the face of contemporary evangelical preaching. If preachers would listen to what Piper echoes in his book, their sermons would ignite into inexhaustible flames. The people in the congregation would describe their pastors as men lit on fire for Christ as they preached.
After the preacher has his theology down, having God and His glory as the center of his preaching, hew then ought to rely completely on God’s Spirit for his preaching. The unction and power of the preaching of any good minister will be evidenced by what that preacher believes and what attendance he has on God and His Spirit for that preaching. Men like the charismatic preachers of today who scream and yell, and say “cliché” things, those things which tickle men’s ears, are not preaching though they have large followings. Remember, there, the people are following them, not Christ. Piper says that preachers who know God and rely on God will have sermons which glorify God.
I especially enjoyed chapter 6 of his book which dealt with Edwards’ preaching and God’s sovereignty. Without being able to delight in God’s glory, this being the chief end of man, how shall one preach effectively? Sovereignty teaches us God’s immense and powerful glory – His weightiness. How shall preachers neglect this aspect? How could they if they are reading and studying their bibles? Without sovereignty, God is not God and He has no glory to speak of.
Every preacher who is a preacher or desires the office should read and reread this very simple and straightforward treatment of preaching. Without God’s Supremacy at the center, preaching is nothing.
Piper quotes Cotton Mather: “The great design and intention of the office of a Christian preacher is to restore the throne and dominion of God in the souls of men.”
“One of the implications this has for preaching is that preachers who take their cue from the Bible and not from the world will always be wrestling with spiritual realities that many of their hearers do not even know exist of think essential.”
“Preaching would not be valid without the cross.”
“Jonathan Edwards preached the way he did because of the man he was and the God he saw.”
“The sovereign work of the Spirit of God must be the power in which all is achieved.”
“The goal of preaching is the glory of God reflected in the glad submission of His creation.”