5 Essential Elements of Pulpit Preaching

If I had gone to a homiletic class to learn to preach, I might actually preach more eloquently, however, I would probably rely upon my knowledge of how to preach well, rather than leaning upon the effectual work of the Holy Spirit through those means. That’s just me. Please don’t misunderstand. I would not, by any means, dissuade anyone from attending a homiletics class to learn to preach better. If you have the wherewithal to attend a homiletics course, then by all means, do so. If you don’t have the means financially to attend a homiletics course, this bit of advice may be helpful to you whenever you preach the gospel in the pulpit of a local church.

N0. ONE: Approach God’s Word to be preached in humility.

Number 1There is only one Prophet who has ever preached God’s Word with impeccable verity: Jesus Christ, the Righteous. The very best of our proclamations are so filled with the corruptions of flesh that we will all fall short of the glory of God. The preaching of Christ’s glorious gospel requires all of grace from start to finish. Recorded in John 5:39, Jesus said,

Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

Jesus Christ is infinite and eternal God as well as the incarnate, crucified, risen and exalted Son of Man. If all the scriptures are about Him, and He is infinite, eternal, and all glorious, the best of all the most eloquent sermons preached, teached, speeched, and screeched by redeemed men will never fully express Christ and Him crucified. It is eternal truth. We must humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord and He will lift us nearer Himself to be further humbled in His majesty. Ever endeavor to approach the pulpit with godly fear and trembling.

N0. TWO: Approach God’s Word to be preached with joy.

Number 2Although we approach God’s Word and Christ’s gospel with fear and trembling, because it is the most supreme message of the entire universe, He has given us the privilege and honor of pronouncing and proclaiming His truths with corrupt lips and tongue; by oral implements that can only be cleansed by His grace through the living coals of His heavenly altar. Yet, in His condescension to allow you and I to preach His gospel, we should preach with joy unspeakable, amazed at His glorious grace for such a privilege! We preach with love for Christ, love for His commandments, and love for His people. That should be a joyous thing. Jesus said,

These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.

If it is not joy to us, then why do it? If it is not a joy, we must examine whether the presence of Christ is truly with us when we preach. Psalms 16:11 tells us,

Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

If preaching or teaching God’s Word and Christ’s gospel has never been a joy and pleasure to you, flee to another ministry with all speed.

No. THREE: Seek to honor God by exalting Christ’s person and work from the text.

Number 3If a sermon does not glorify Christ, that is certainly evidence that the personal presence and effectual power of the Holy Spirit is absent from the pulpit. Recorded in John 16:14, Jesus told His disciples,

He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

Studying the text without pleading in prayer for power is the acme of foolishness. The preaching and teaching of God’s Word carries with it a huge responsibility, as James reminds us in the third chapter and first verse of his epistle,

My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.

It is better to turn down an invitation to preach from the pulpit than to accept an opportunity that gives you the time only to provide light treatment of the text with little or no prayer.

No. FOUR: Deliver God’s Word to His people without doubt and without presumption.

Number 4We don’t see into the hearts of those to whom we are preaching. We must deliver God’s Word and the gospel of Jesus Christ without reservation, which contains God’s power to save the lost and edify the redeemed; yet, at the same time, we should never presume upon His grace to say that this one will be, or should be, saved; or that one will be, or should be, blessed. We must walk into the valley of dry bones like Ezekiel and recognize that whatever is accomplished is according to God’s good pleasure by the counsel of His own will; and that attained only by His grace and mercy. It is written in Ezekiel 37:1-3,

The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest.

God knows for it is in His hand. When we preach in the power of this comforting truth, our attention may be fixed upon Christ, and not upon the results, which is always where our corrupt flesh lusteth unto exaltation.

No. FIVE: Expect the preaching of God’s Word to change your life.

Number 5When preaching from the pulpit becomes merely a job that feeds my family and not the truth that transforms my life and the joy that fills my soul, then it’s time for me to stop preaching and sit in the pew to be fed the bread of life. The Word heard is a transforming truth, strengthening the faith of the saints and imparting faith to the lost, as it is written in Romans 10:17,

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Yet, it is not merely the congregation that hears it, but also we who preach. When the sermon preached no longer affects our souls while we are preaching, it may be a pretty reliable indication that we are so given to the Word’s delivery that we are not fed while delivering it. The tremendous responsibility to preach God’s Word to His people does not come without its benefits; and that benefit is an essential one for a pastor that must preach from two or three new texts each week. The blessing we receive from the gospel we proclaim aids us in the study for each subsequent text delivered.

About Jon J. Cardwell

"The Spirited Speaker" - Pastor of Sovereign Grace Baptist Church in Anniston, Alabama. Nationally recognized speaker and publisher. Author of several books, including the bestseller, Christ and Him Crucified.


  1. Amen and great counsel! I am in an elder training program at my church, am blessed to preach once in a while, have not been to seminary (our elders see the church as responsible for training up men!). I’ve been taught these principles and have experienced the joy of see the Spirit of God impact His people when the Word of God is rightly preached. Not resting on man’s wisdom or eloquent speech, but trusting in the Spirit of God to do what only He can do.

    • Thank you, brother, for your blessed and encouraging comment. So glad to hear that. Likewise, I believe that the local church should recapture the equipping men that the Lord has raised for the work of ministry and the preaching of the gospel. May the Lord continue to bless you as you continue in ministry for God’s glory and the exaltation of Christ.

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