Last week I posted a Preaching Checklist, an updated list of questions that I use to regularly “audit” my sermons and make sure I’m not forgetting the basics or drifting into bad habits.

This week, I’m posting a Preaching Primer. It’s basically a help to “priming the pump” before preaching. It’s a selection of quotes from John Piper’s wonderful book on preaching, Expository Exultation: Christian Preaching as Worship, that one way or another remind us that preaching is worship for worship. The quotes therefore focus on the exultation part of Expository Exultation, and call those of us who preach to remember that the aim of preaching is not just to explain the Word. That’s the start point but not the end-point. The end-point is the presence of God, a meeting with God, the enjoyment of God, exulting in God.

I’ve recently been reading these quotes a couple of hours before I preach and plan to keep doing so. My sermon is prepared, but I want to make sure my heart is prepared and that I focus on much more than mere information transfer. I’m very grateful to John Piper for writing this inspiring book and for reminding us of the glory and greatness of preaching God’s Word. I’ve put some sample quotes below, but I hope they’ll entice you to download the rest here.

“One of the primary burdens of this book is to show that preaching not only assists worship, but also is worship. The title Expository Exultation is intended to communicate that this unique form of communication is both a rigorous intellectual clarification of the reality revealed through the words of Scripture and a worshipful embodiment of the value of that reality in the preacher’s exultation over the word he is clarifying.” (16)

“Therefore, to say that preaching is worship and serves worship raises two questions. One relates to how the preacher is taken up into the supernatural. The other relates to how the preacher uses all his natural powers in the service of the miracle of worship.” (18)

“How does [the preacher] become an instrument of God so that his preaching becomes an act of worship and a means of awakening worship?” (18)

“The present volume, Expository Exultation, aims to show how preaching becomes and begets the blood-bought, Spirit-wrought worship of the worth and beauty of God.” (22)

“I am hoping to show that preaching is worship and serves worship.” (25)

“But if you believe, as I do, that seeing the spiritual beauty of biblical truth without savoring it is sin…” (25)

“Savoring the glory of God is the essence of true worship.” (26)

“The essence of worship is the heart’s experience of affections that magnify the beauty and worth of God.” (26)

“I take “in spirit” to mean that this true worship is carried along by the Holy Spirit and is happening mainly as an inward, spiritual event, not mainly as an outward, bodily event (cf. John 3:6). And I take “in truth” to mean that this true worship is a response to true views of God and is shaped and guided by true views of God.” (27)

“This is worship: to act in a way that shows the heart’s valuing of the glory of God and the name of the Lord Jesus. Or, as we said in the introduction, worship means consciously knowing and treasuring and showing the supreme worth and beauty of God.” (27)

“Worship—whether an inner act of the heart, or an outward act of daily obedience, or an act of the congregation collectively—is a magnifying of God. That is, it is an act that consciously shows how magnificent God is.” (28)

“The essence of praising Christ is prizing Christ.” (30)

“Preaching itself is worship and is appointed by God to awaken and intensify worship.” (51)

“To say it another way, the preacher simultaneously explains the meaning of Scripture and exults over the God-glorifying reality in it.” (51)

“Exultation without explanation is not preaching. Explanation without exultation is not preaching. Therefore, preaching—expository exultation— is peculiarly suited for Christian corporate worship, for worship means knowing, treasuring, and showing the supreme worth and beauty of God. Preaching helps people do this by doing it. Preaching shows God’s supreme worth by making the meaning of Scripture known and by simultaneously treasuring and expressing the glories of God revealed in that biblical meaning.” (51)

“But together—exposition, as making clear what the Scripture really means, and exultation, as openly treasuring the divine glories of that meaning—they combine to make preaching what it is.” (53)

“A herald (kēryx) who communicated by his demeanor that he did not revere his king, or regard his message as valuable, was nearing treason. To speak as a herald was to communicate not only the truth but also the value of the message and the majesty of the authority behind it.” (61)

“The message of the preacher, the herald, is not merely a body of facts to be understood. It is a constellation of glories to be treasured. It is, at times, a tempest of horrors to be fled. Any thought that the message of a preacher could be delivered as a detached explanation fails to grasp the significance of Paul’s use of the phrase “Herald the word!” Or, “Preach good news!” Or, “Proclaim Christ.” Preaching is both accurate teaching and heartfelt heralding. It is expository exultation.” (66)

“He is “a burning and shining lamp” (John 5:35). Burning with exultation. Shining with exposition.” (78)

“Here’s the point for preaching: Paul made clear that preaching aims at awakening and sustaining and strengthening faith. The essence of faith is seeing and savoring and being satisfied in all that God is for us in Jesus. When we preachers experience this in preaching, and our people experience it through preaching, we and they magnify the preciousness and worth of God.” (81)

“That is what preaching aims to awaken and sustain. The aim of preaching—whatever the topic, whatever the text—is this kind of faith. It aims to quicken in the soul a satisfaction with all that God is for us in Jesus, because this satisfaction magnifies God’s all-sufficient glory, and that is worship.” (81)

“I am thinking here of preaching as the portrayal of Christ with words so vivid that Paul speaks of their effect as seeing the very glory of Christ—a seeing so powerful that it transforms the one who sees.” (82)

“Preaching aims to present Christ in such a way that a spiritual “seeing” happens—a seeing so powerful that the hearers-seers are “transformed into the same image.” (83)
“The point I am trying to make here is that preaching is supremely suited for corporate worship, because it is uniquely suited by God for unveiling the glory of Christ with a view to transforming people into that glory.” (85)