The Four Pages of the Sermon

Wilson, Paul Scott

Abingdon, 1999

p. 21

“Sermons need to major in God and in grace. Social justice liberals and evangelicals alike tend to give us shoulds, musts, and have-tos. We don’t get enough Easter, Pentecost, Ascension. We get Emerson under other names. We get self-reliance preached to us, and it can’t save us. Preachers avoid grace because it ‘lets people off the hook.’ But God does it. Why must we be such unmerciful servants? We need faith, hope, and love in sermons, not just conviction of sin and dereliction of duty. Yes, the addict must stop taking drugs, the tax cheat must straighten up, and the whore get chaste, but where’s the good news that the power of sin died on the cross? Good news is like a good sacrament. It will liberate. Again, I say unto you, it will liberate. Let the sermon show God’s work in the world, too. Give God a little credit for a Peace Accord, not just discredit for hurricanes. Let a congregation leave church on Sunday with more faith, hope, and love than when they came in. So frame up themes in sermons not as ‘Jesus wants us to repent’ but as ‘Jesus brings us to repentance.’ Preach some gospel. Not just ‘God feels your pain,’ but what God does to address your pain. The Bible is the church’s book, and we may choose to preach gospel out of it. That’s where our focus should be because that’s where the Bible’s focus is.”