by Jeff Jenkins
When I was just getting started in ministry, one of my goals was to surround myself with older preachers. I’ve tried to do that for more than thirty years now, and it has blessed my life more than I can tell you. The only problem is, now I are one!
One of the outstanding characteristics of the best preachers I have known through the years is balance. I really believe that the key to effective preaching is balance. One of those men who mentored me in my early years of preaching was Wendell Winkler.
Brother Winkler was not only a great man, but the consummate preacher. He was often called “The Preacher’s Preacher.” I heard him present a lesson in the early 1980s with the title “Preaching the Whole Counsel of God.” It was a masterpiece. In this sermon, he spent an extended amount of time discussing the need for balance in our preaching.
Every preacher I know wants to be balanced, and most of us believe we are balanced. But what does balanced preaching look like? How do we know when our sermons are balanced? What are the characteristics of balanced preaching?
Balanced Preaching Communicates
The goal of all preaching is communication. We want to communicate the Word of God, the love of God, the mission of God, and the heart of God. God has always used words to communicate His message to the world. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…” (John 1:1-3). The message from God through the Word is grace and truth (John 1:14).
As preachers, we must guard against believing that our words are more important that God’s Word. There will always be people who will want us to give them something other than the Word of God. A classic example of this is found in 1 Kings 22 when the prophet Micaiah was asked by King Jehoshaphat’s messenger to speak just like the other prophets. Michaiah’s response was, “As the LORD lives, what the LORD says to me, that I shall speak” (1 Kings 22:14). The “what” of our proclamation must be the “that” of Divine revelation. Preachers, our communication must be “what the Lord says!”
The Holy Spirit reminded us through Paul that there would be times when people would “not endure sound doctrine.” The word Paul uses here is hygiainō. It means healthy or wholesome. We are called to present teaching that will bring good spiritual health to those who hear us.
Balanced Preaching Convicts
When Peter preached that inaugural Gospel message more than 2000 years ago, the power and passion of his preaching caused the hearers to be “cut” to the heart (Acts 2:37). The word katanyssomai means to pierce or to pain the mind sharply. One scholar suggests that a correct translation of the word would be, “they were smitten in heart with poignant sorrow.” Peter’s powerful preaching was personal, and it caused those who heard it to be sorrowful in their heart for what they had done.
Jesus had promised that through the Spirit, the world would be convicted concerning “sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged” (John 16:7-11).
Balanced Preaching Converts
It is through the message of balanced preaching that we can reach the world with the saving message of the Gospel. Paul explained it this way, “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe” (1 Cor. 1:21).
It is not our oratorical skills, our motivational skills, or our education that converts; it is the message of the Gospel. The power is not in the messenger; it is in the message (Rom. 1:15-17).
Understanding this, we must be men who have a holy heartburn to present the message. We must make sure we do not turn preaching into a boring, lifeless lecture. The people who hear us preach need more than another commentary on the news. They need the only good news that can save.
Balanced Preaching Corrects
Paul told his young protégé that when he preached the Word. He should, “reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (2 Tim. 4:2). Two of these three include preaching that corrects. The word used here for reprove is elegchō. It means “to expose, to admonish, to correct.” The word for rebuke is epitimaō. It carries with it the idea of charging sharply or severe censure.
Again, we must work to make sure our personalities don’t take over. It is not our purpose to attempt to “step on their toes,” we just preach, and let the Word do the correcting. Too many preachers consider themselves to be God’s policeman and they use their bully pulpits to “fix” everything they believe is wrong. Balanced preaching will allow the Word of God to do its work.
Balanced Preaching Comforts
We live in a world that is overrun with broken hearts, broken homes, and broken lives. The only real cure for the sin and brokenness in our world is Jesus. It was Jesus who said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30).
The God we preach is the “God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ” (2 Cor. 1:3-5).
Returning to Paul’s charge to Timothy and all preachers, the word he uses for exhort is parakaleō. It means to console, to encourage and strengthen by consolation, to comfort. The Good News brings comfort to hurting hearts. As preachers we must make sure we allow God’s Word to work and bring the comfort so badly needed in our world.
Balanced preaching is the need of the hour. The eternal destiny of those who hear the Word depends on it. Brothers, we must give our best because the Lord gave us His best. There is no greater joy in all the world than the joy of preaching the unsearchable riches of Christ.
Jeff Jenkins is an editor for Hope & Expectation and preaches for the Lewisville Church of Christ in Lewisville, Texas. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.