5 Steps John Piper Follows to Ensure He Preaches in God’s Strength

John Piper Preaching in Power of Spirit

“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):*

  1. “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.’”
  2. “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.”
  3. “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…”
  4. “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.”
  5. “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.

How to Read the Seven Letters to Seven Churches in Revelation (Graeme Goldsworthy)

The Seven Churches of Asia in Revelation

The book of Revelation features seven mini-epistles to the churches of Asia: Ephesus (2:1-7), Smyrna (2:8-11), Pergamum (2:12-17), Thyatia (2:18-29), Sardis (3:1-6), Philadelphia (3:7-13), Laodicea (3:14-22).

In Gospel In Revelation, Graeme Goldsworthy lays out a suggested structure for these short letters, as well as an idea how they function in the book of Revelation:


  1. Address to the angel of the church.
  2. Description of the author, Christ.
  3. Reference to works followed by praise or criticism.
  4. Warning of consequences of faithlessness.
  5. Exhortation to persevere.
  6. Promise to all who overcome.

*(There are some slight variations, especially in the warnings and exhortations.)


The seven messages to the churches structure Christian existence during the overlap of the ages as a creative tension between the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man.


The seven letters to the churches serve to introduce the main themes of Revelation by dealing with them at the outset in the down-to-earth context of the daily life of the local congregations. The drama of redemption is thus shown to have on-going effects in the world of human existence. Christians are not onlookers while a cosmic conflict rages in spiritual realms, but rather they are participants. The letters prevent the apocalyptic descriptions of this spiritual struggle from being detached from our daily struggle. The risen and glorified Christ calls upon his churches to be faithful to his gospel and to persevere in well-doing. During this period of the overlap of the ages the lordship of Christ in the world is expressed through the church which is made up of responsible human beings. The good works which are demanded are part of the apocalyptic struggle with the powers of darkness. Because the final inheritance of Christians follows on a life characterized by good works, it may be spoken of as reward, even though its basis is not those works but Christ’s merits.

Found in The Goldsworthy Trilogy pages 235, 242-243

Review of Preaching with Accuracy: Finding Christ-Centered Big Ideas for Biblical Preaching by Randal Pelton

How can a preacher proclaim God’s Word with greater accuracy?

This is the question Randal Pelton seeks to answer in Preaching with Accuracy: Finding Christ-Centered Big Ideas for Biblical Preaching. Pelton is the senior pastor at Calvary Bible Church in Mount Joy, Pennsylvania and also a professor at Lancaster Bible College and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

In this book, Pelton builds on the work and methodology set out by two prominent preaching books (Chapell’s Christ-Centered Preaching and Robinson’s Biblical Preaching) and narrows the focus to helping preachers, “[find] Christ-centered big ideas for biblical preaching, an ability that plays a major role in preaching with greater accuracy” (13).

Pelton shares, “Preaching with greater accuracy involves knowing how big ideas and little ideas interrelate to create meanings” (39). Pelton suggests coming at big ideas from several different angles before zeroing in on a preaching big idea:

• The Textual Big Idea (labeled as texbi)
• The Contextual Big Idea (conbi)
• The Canonical Big Idea (canbi)

The book begins by laying the foundation for both exposition and communicating the big idea before moving on to passage selection, sharing one chapter for each component of the big idea (texbi, conbi, canbi), and closes with advice on putting all of the pieces together in the form of a sermon.

Pelton has been greatly influenced by Timothy Keller’s Christ-centered preaching method and explains how Keller preaches Christ and how application flows from the gospel truths drawn from the text. I found his short interaction with Keller’s method to be especially helpful, especially when followed by a short analysis of others who wouldn’t label themselves as “Christ-centered” preachers fall short.

One of the strengths of Preaching with Accuracy is that it encourages readers to practice finding each component of the big idea. Following a didactic section explaining his process, Pelton provides several exercises and examples to practice with before sharing his own conclusions.

Another thing I appreciated was that Pelton doesn’t oversimplify preaching Christ to the neglect of other members of the Trinity, as many preachers do. We should not only preach Christ, but, according to Pelton, preach “God-in-Christ-by-the-Spirit,” for that is what gives readers true, Trinitarian precision in how gospel transformation takes place. Pelton’s explanation of over-interpretation (finding Christ where he is not) and under-interpretation (often taking the form of moralism) of a text is also very helpful in seeing how the three contextual threads (texbi, conbi, canbi) form one strand of faithful gospel preaching.

Preaching with Accuracy will help many preachers sharpen their understanding of the big idea in preaching and their understanding of how all of Scripture points to Christ. This book not only will shape the mind of preachers, but will provide opportunity to practice what was taught so they will be better equipped to preach with accuracy.

Title: Preaching with Accuracy: Finding Christ-Centered Big Ideas for Biblical Preaching
Author: Randal E. Pelton
Publisher: Kregel
Year: 2014

Editor’s Note: Leadership Resources training in biblical exposition works through eight books of the Bible using hermeneutical principles like structure and the big idea of a text. Learn more about our training or look through our Dig & Discover Hermeneutical Principles Booklet.