Three P’s of Preaching from J.I. Packer


How do you define preaching? You could answer that question a dozen different ways.

In an essay titled, “The Preacher as Theologian,” Dr. J.I. Packer defines preaching from a biblical and theological approach. Here is his definition:

“Preaching is incarnational communication from God, prophetic, persuasive and powerful…”¹

The second half of his definition includes three “P’s” describing God’s divine purposes for preaching and how it is that God can speak through human preachers:²

1. Prophetic

The preacher’s role is like the Old Testament prophets in the sense that he is bringing God’s Word to bear on his congregation. The difference between Old Testament prophets and preachers today is that preachers today communicate God’s message from the Bible instead of from a variety of means including oracles, visions, or revelations. According to Packer, the text of the Bible is “God preaching to us.”

When a preacher faithfully communicates God’s message from the Word, preachers act like God’s mouthpiece–which is one reason why Packer includes “incarnational communication” in his definition of preaching.

2. Persuasive

Preaching is different than merely giving a lecture–preaching demands a response to the truth of Scripture. It is to persuade others to receive and obey the Word of God. The Apostle Paul agrees, “Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others…” (2 Corinthians 5:11). Preaching should be targeted not only by knowing the main point of a passage, but also knowing the aim (or desired response) of the sermon. Knowing a desired aim will cause the preacher to focus on the persuasive element of the sermon.

3. Powerful

When the Word is preached, truth is communicated in a living and power-packed way. “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power” (1 Corinthians 2:4-5). As preachers faithfully proclaim the Word, the same God that brought creation into being is working in His power to sow the Word into the hearts of hearers by His Spirit.

Much more can be said about preaching, but I find Packer’s definition quite helpful due to its focus on the nature of the preacher in relation to God (prophetic), the goal of the message (to persuade), and the heart-piercing effects of God’s Word as carried by the Spirit (its power).

May all preachers of the Word prophetically persuade their hearers backed by God’s power!

Kevin Halloran is the Content Strategist at Leadership Resources and on the Latin America Training Team. Follow Kevin on Twitter.

Leadership Resources International trains pastors and church leaders in the US and worldwide to study the Word of God in depth using a variety of hermeneutical principles. Learn more about our training in the US and around the world or how you can help strengthen the global church with the Word of God!

¹From Packer’s essay, “The Pastor as Theologian” from When God’s Voice is Heard: Essays on Preaching Presented to Dick Lucas.
²The categories are Dr. Packer’s, the explanations are mine.

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4 Promises from Jesus for the Start of a Disciple-Making Ministry


This post is from Kevin Halloran, the Content Strategist at Leadership Resources, sharing about an experience he had while serving in his local church. Leadership Resources is committed to strengthening the global church by encouraging and equipping pastors to preach God’s Word with God’s heart.

I serve as a team on my church praying and planning for a new ministry to reach Spanish speakers in our area with the gospel. This is a new venture for us and functions a lot like a church plant within a church–which means we are thinking a lot about how both evangelism and discipleship will happen as we launch the ministry.

At the close of our last meeting, we asked for volunteers who would pitch in doing various things: teach the Scripture, make coffee, greet, get the word out, etc. People enthusiastically volunteered:

  • “I will set up the coffee station!”
  • “I’d love to prepare a Bible study for us!”
  • “I can be the guy to talk to the church office about an announcement.”
  • “I will contact such-and-such a person this week…”

As we discussed who would do what, my mind wandered to what Jesus would say if He sat around the table with us. That’s obviously a silly question–He has told us what He would commit to do in the work of evangelism, discipleship, and planting a church.

Below are a few of Christ’s promises that show a small glimpse into Christ’s work in the process of evangelizing, discipling, and growing a church.

4 Promises from Jesus for the Start of a Disciple-Making Ministry

I will build my church. (Matthew 16:18)

As we seek to fulfill our part of the Great Commission, we can be sure that Christ will work alongside us building His church. That takes pressure off of us because it by reminding us that Jesus Himself will work in and through us to accomplish this glorious purpose and that not even “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” This promise has greatly encouraged our group as we think and pray about what this ministry will look like.

I will make you fishers of men. (Matthew 4:19)

Knowing the right evangelistic techniques alone doesn’t make a great evangelist. You need to enroll in Christ’s School of Discipleship yourself before inviting others to join you. Jesus first said, “Follow me”, with “I will make you fishers of men” a result of following Him. Christ will transform us into soul winners as we follow Him. Our new ministry team must keep our eyes on Christ, the ultimate evangelist and evangelism coach as we seek to reach Spanish speakers in our area with the gospel.

I will accomplish My purposes through My Word. (Isaiah 55:11-12)

Our proclamation of the Word will invite God to minister through us. Jesus promises to use His Word, and we just need to be faithful in communicating it. God’s Word is not only the best disciple maker, it also the best for training us for service (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Our ministry team can plan confidently knowing that God will use our efforts to sow His Word into the hearts and minds of those we minister to and that our labor will never be in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58).

I will be with you always. (Matthew 28:20)

We are never alone even when ministry seems lonely. Christ promises His presence to be with us as we make, baptize, and teach disciples. Christ’s presence with us by the Spirit will empower effective evangelism (Acts 1:8), give us needed words (Luke 12:11-12), help us in our weakness (Romans 8:26), and aid us in preaching the gospel (1 Peter 1:12). Christ’s comforting presence by the Spirit will encourage us to press forward and do our part in fulfilling the Great Commission.

The truth is, I’m not sure what this new ministry will look like a month from now, a year from now, or ten years from now–and it doesn’t matter. It may even take a month or two for anyone to show up! We can confidently trust that Jesus will do His part of this ministry as we seek to make and multiply disciples of Christ.

Kevin Halloran is the Content Strategist at Leadership Resources and on the Latin America Training Team. Follow Kevin on Twitter.


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Learn Biblical Theology with D.A. Carson: Mp3 Audio and Video for The God Who Is There Series


We recently shared how The Gospel Coalition’s International Outreach arm supplied D.A. Carson’s teaching series The God Who is There to supplement the training of Ethiopian pastors in the Training National Trainers program.

Below we have shared the audio and video from the series designed to help you understand the big picture of the Bible. The series serves to give an introductory education in biblical theology.

Here is a brief description of The God Who Is There:

This series will serve the church well because it simultaneously evangelizes non-Christians and edifies Christians by explaining the Bible’s storyline in a non-reductionistic way. The series is geared toward “seekers” and articulates Christianity in a way that causes hearers either to reject or embrace the gospel. It’s one thing to know the Bible’s storyline, but it’s another to know one’s role in God’s ongoing story of redemption. “The God Who Is There” engages people at the worldview-level.

The Gospel Coalition has made full MP3s and videos available for Carson’s 14-part series.

To download the files below, right click on the title and then select “Save Link As…”.

  1. The God Who Made Everything 
  2. The God Who Does Not Wipe Out Rebels
  3. The God Who Writes His Own Agreements
  4. The God Who Legislates
  5. The God Who Reigns
  6. The God Who Is Unfathomably Wise
  7. The God Who Becomes a Human Being
  8. The God Who Grants New Birth
  9. The God Who Loves
  10. The God Who Dies—and Lives Again
  11. The God Who Declares the Guilty Just
  12. The God Who Gathers and Transforms His People
  13. The God Who Is Very Angry
  14. The God Who Triumphs 

The Troubled Bible Translator

Dear Friends and Partners,

Thank God for Bible translation and for the many missionaries who have spent their lives putting God’s Word into peoples’ heart language. But, is it enough???

Phil is one of these heroes – a Wycliffe missionary who’s served in a large hostile nation for many, many years. He worked with a Mabi* team to translate Genesis and the New Testament so that the Mabi could for the first time ever have much of the Word of God in their own language. But, is that enough???

Phil recently wrote that after he completed the New Testament, “The church leaders asked if I could start preparing sermons for them.”

Phil was both troubled and confused. Troubled because, “I told them that what they needed was not just sermons prepared and handed to them, but instead they needed to learn how to study the Word.” Confused, because Phil didn’t know how to help them – he’s a translator, not a teacher of preachers.

Then, Phil heard about TNT (Training National Trainers). In God’s providence, we were about to launch a new TNT group in this same hostile country. Phil emailed me and pleaded for the chance to send two of his key church leaders (Peter & John*) to the training.

Well, several years later, Phil has seen TNT transformation first-hand. He told me, “The two men continue to pass on this training to others. Many people have commented on the improved quality of the preaching of many pastors and elders as a result of this training. Praise the Lord!”

Praise the Lord indeed, not only for the Word translated, but also for the Word faithfully preached in peoples’ heart language. We also thank God for your prayers and your great generosity in making all of this possible. Rejoice with us.

With much gratitude in Christ,


Craig Parro

President of Leadership Resources



PS: The news gets even better! The two Mabi men that we equipped are hoping to begin a new TNT training group with a nearby ethnic group, the Sammo*. You see, the Sammo have just gotten the Bible in their own language. The Mabi TNTers so treasure the TNT training that they feel compelled to pass on the training to the Sammo. Praise the Lord again! Wouldn’t you love to be a part of helping make that happen? Donate to Leadership Resources.

*Ethnic groups, language names, and personal names changed for security reasons.


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