“How do you preach so that the preaching is a demonstration of God’s power and not your own?”
That is the question John Piper seeks to answer in the third chapter of The Supremacy of God in Preaching.
While he doesn’t feel comfortable laying out a definitive “how-to guide” to preaching in the Spirit’s power, he does share the following five steps that he seeks to follow to ensure he is preaching in God’s strength (using the acronym APTAT):*
- “I Admit to the Lord that without him I can do nothing. I affirm that John 15:5 is absolutely true of me at this moment: ‘Apart from me you can do nothing.’”
- “I Pray for help. I beg for the insight and the power and the humility and the love and the memory and the freedom that I need to preach this message for the glory of your name and the gladness of your people and the ingathering of your elect.”
- “The next step is Trust—not merely in a general way in God’s goodness, but in a specific promise where I can bank my hope for that hour. I find this kind of specific trust in a particular Word of God utterly essential to fight off Satan in those moments. Recently I strengthened myself with Psalm 40:17: ‘As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God!’ I memorize the verse early in the morning, recite it to myself in that moment, believe it, resist the devil with it, and…”
- “I Act in the confidence that God will fulfill his Word. And I can testify that, though the fullness of blessing that I long to see has been delayed, God has met me and my people again and again in the display of his glory and the glad submission of his people. This leads to the final step.”
- “I Thank God at the end of the message that I was sustained and that the truth of his Word and the purchase of his cross have been preached in some measure in the power of his Spirit to the glory of his name.”
These five steps reflect the attitude of dependence and faith preachers ought to exhibit as they prepare to preach God’s Word. This attitude also reflects that of Paul as described in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5:
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
Leadership Resources trains pastors to preach God’s Word with God’s heart. Learn more about our Fellowship of the Word and Training National Trainers programs that equip pastors to strengthen their church through expository ministry.
*The APTAT acronym and corresponding quotes come from chapter three “The Gift of Preaching” in The Supremacy of God in Preaching.