Sundays: 9 & 11am LATEST MESSAGE


Charlie Boyd - 7/30/2023


Preaching a sermon and listening to a sermon is not an exclusively human work. It’s a miracle.


About 65 million Americans listened to a sermon last week. But I don't think many, if any, of them have ever heard a sermon on the topic of preaching. Consequently, most weekly worship service attendees haven’t thought much about what God intends to happen when His Word is preached, and His people listen. How about you? Have you thought much about that? Why does preaching matter? What does God want you to experience when you listen to a sermon? That’s our focus today.

The main business of the church is to keep God and the Gospel front and center in the minds and hearts of God’s people. And a main way of doing that is through the preaching of God’s Word—not preaching therapy or self-help strategies—not preaching politics or social agendas—but understandable and applicable biblical preaching. In a very real sense, then, biblical preaching is the main business of the church. John Piper has said—“The great aim of preaching is the white-hot worship of God’s people.” That’s true. By that, he doesn’t mean musical worship. Worship is responding to the great truth about who God is and what God is up to in the world and in our lives. We respond by singing. We also respond (worship) when we listen to how God has revealed Himself to us in Scripture. So, preaching serves and assists worship. But preaching itself is also worship. Preaching is worship-seeking worship. And for it to be worship, the Holy Spirit has to do a “work” in our hearts to draw our hearts toward the goodness and greatness of God. It is the Holy Spirit that takes a preacher’s words and makes them God’s word in a way that you receive them as God’s Word.

The key text for all I’ve said so far is 1 Timothy 3:15—(my paraphrase)—“The church of the living God is the pillar and foundation of the truth.” Again, the main business of the church is to keep the truth about God and the Gospel in the forefront of the minds and hearts of God’s people. If that truth is not preached, heard, sun, and embraced, there is no worship

Big Picture: If you do a quick survey of the Bible, you’ll see that much of the written text of the Bible—from Genesis to Revelation) was originally sermons preached to God’s people by God’s prophets (also see Romans 10:14-17 and 1 Corinthians 1:21).

Digging Deeper: But when you think about it, it takes two to make a sermon. So, in talking about the importance of biblical preaching, I also need to talk about the significance of prayerful listening. James 1:21-25. In the first century, most people couldn’t read or write, so they learned by listening rather than reading. So, this letter from James was probably read to a congregation rather than read by a congregation. James is giving his friends instructions as to how to get the most out of the Word of God when they hear it read or when they listen to it as it is preached.

First, James says—Prepare your heart to hear a new word from God (v21). James says, “If you want to make the most out of a new hearing of God’s Word, you must first “humbly accept”/humbly submit to the Word that’s already been planted in your heart.” He’s saying, “Weed out anything you know is contrary to God’s Word and will that can prevent your heart from being open to hearing God’s Word preached.” In other words, weeding comes before seeding. 

James’ point is—to be able to hear God’s Word, you need to humbly submit to the word you already know—and you need to prepare your heart to humbly/eagerly receive what God wants to say to you in the present moment.

Second, he says—Receive the Word with a desire to do the Word (vv22-25). In other words, have the mindset that whatever the Spirit tells you to do through the words of a preacher, you will do. James calls us out here; he says, “to hear the Word and not do it, is to be self-deceived. I can’t think of any greater deception among the people of God today than the deception that comes from thinking that knowing the word is equal to doing the word. People who study the Bible or sit under Bible preaching but who also fail to humbly receive what they’re hearing and do nothing with it.

Third, he’s saying—There’s more going on than you realize (back to v21). He says that God can do things through the words of a preacher that result in “saving” faith—not just eternally “saving” faith, but sanctifying faith.” It’s a miracle—something happens between the preacher’s lips and the congregation’s ear that is beyond prediction or explanation. There’s more going on right here, right now that we can fully understand from a human point of view. It’s the miracle of God using a preacher’s words to open up someone’s mind and heart to faith or greater faith. (Remember back in Rom10:17—“Faith comes by hearing and hearing through the word of Christ.”) If that sounds like I’m going too far, listen to how Paul talks about this very same thing regarding his own preaching. (Read 1Corinthians 2:17-18, 23; 2:1-5, 12). All these passages make the point that the “miracle in preaching” happens when the HS shows up, and He takes the preacher’s words and makes them God’s words in the hearing and in the hearts of God’s people. Still wrestling with that? Read 1Thess 2:13—God’s people accepted Paul’s words as God’s words! Wow. Here’s the miracle—God’s Word informs a preacher’s words, but the Spirit takes the preacher’s words and makes them God’s words. And when our hearts are rightly prepared to receive that Word, life-changing miracles can happen (Read Galatians 3:2 and 5).

How to Hear God in a Sermon   

Before the message—Maybe Saturday night or sitting quietly in your seat before the service begins, ask the Spirit to remove all the distracting voices that are screaming for your attention. Ask the Spirit to remove anything in your heart that might prevent you from hearing what God wants to say to you today.

During the message—Listen to what is being said as if God is speaking to you Himself. Pray: “Holy Spirit, speak to me.” Listen with eagerness to receive the Word and put it into practice.  

After the message—Later in the day, before bedtime, Monday morning—think back over what you heard and ask the Spirit again what He wants you to do with what you heard.

Preaching a sermon is not exclusively a human work. Listening to a sermon is not exclusively a human work. Both are miracles made possible by the Holy Spirit.

*We are a church located in Greenville, South Carolina. Our vision is to see God transform us into a community of grace passionately pursuing life and mission with Jesus.