Home > Brandenburg, Preaching > Laid On My Heart?

Laid On My Heart?

October 4, 2006

Before a sermon I have often heard this expressed: “The Lord laid this on my heart tonight to preach.” I have to admit. I groan on the inside now when I hear someone say this. I may not even know what it means. I really do believe that if the Lord really does lay messages on someone’s heart that they would be from the Bible. That’s how God works. However, in many cases the message that God “lays” on someone’s heart, I’ve found, is a lot of something not in the Bible, and yet, I guess, because God has laid it on his heart, I’m supposed to somehow take it as authoritative. Of course, when it isn’t Scriptural, it doesn’t have authority.  Oh, by the way, the Lord laid that on my heart.

What is preaching?  Let me tell you what the Lord has laid on my heart.  A lot of this has to do with what the word “preach,” “preacher,” or “preaching” means.  Does that make sense to you?  I just kind of think that would be a good place to start.  The preacher, the kerux, was a herald.  I think that many of you knew that.  The people during NT times, hearing the word kerux, would have thought of someone who did the advance work for a king.  He would prepare the way for the king, letting everyone know he was coming, and delivering his message.  He would unroll the king’s scroll and deliver word-for-word the king’s message.  The message was authoritative because it came directly from the king.  The herald didn’t come to give his opinion but exactly what the king appointed him.

I like to compare preaching to being a waiter bringing food to a table.  You’re not the chef.  You just bring the food from the kitchen to the recipient.  You don’t mess with the food, accentuate it, add to it, or take away from it.  Your favorite waiter is someone that gets it there, gets all of it there, and gets it there with enthusiasm.  You, however, don’t want food from the waiter; you want the food from the chef.  Of course, in this case, the Chef is God.  The food is the Bible.  The waiter is the preacher.

1 Corinthians 4:1-2 talks about the stewards of the mysteries of God.  The word “ministers” there is the Greek word for “galley slaves.”  Preachers are endowed by God with His wonderful mysteries to unfold for people.  The chief characteristic is faithfulness, like the galley slave.  Being a galley slave didn’t take some great talent.  It took relentlessness, continuation, and persistence.  The best quality is not quitting.  You keep the oar moving and moving and moving.  It takes less talent as it does endurance, determination, and follow through.

As a preacher, I make sure I have the message from the king.  I don’t want to give the people anything different than what God says.  If I can’t give what God says, then I shouldn’t be a preacher.  If I won’t give what God says, then I am too proud to be a preacher.  I know that I can’t deliver to people something better than what God has already written.

A long time ago the Lord laid on my heart from His Word always to proclaim His Word.  That’s my job as a preacher. If I do not do that, I’ve failed.  And if anyone says that God has laid something on his heart to preach that adds or takes away from God’s Word, you know He isn’t telling you the truth.  God will lay on the preacher’s heart only what He has already written in His Word.

Categories: Brandenburg, Preaching
  1. Don Heinz
    October 4, 2006 at 6:36 am

    So, do you have something against the phrase itself? That is, is it wrong to express God’s direction for a message in these terms? Would it be better to use more scriptural terminology like… “the Lord has lead me to preach this message” or “I have assuredly gathered that this is the message that the Lord wants me to preach”? It seems to me that it is far better and far safer, especially when it comes to doctrinal discussions, to conform our speech to the Bible to avoid misinterpretations and misundertandings.

  2. October 4, 2006 at 7:05 am

    Good ‘chef-food-waiter-consumer’ illustration. Which is making me hungry again, not for ‘bread’ necessarily, but for meat. Jackhammer did a great job discussing the Lord’s Supper issue, I can’t wait for you to hammer out the ‘preaching’ issue.

    I have always thought that if a man says ‘God has laid this message on my heart’ and fails to proclaim God’s Word, that that just about amounts to an odd form of levity, maybe even blasphemy. Same with ‘God’s will.’ My wife often accuses me of being too particular, but I don’t think both phrases should get a pass unless they clearly evidence what the Bible says.

    As with any illustration there is a flaw. In the ‘chef-food-waiter-consumer’ illustration the consumer orders from the menu, thus employing both the waiter and the chef. That is too man-centered, which is the crux of the ‘preaching’ problem. Preachers get up and preach their messages instead of God’s. 2 Corinthians 4:5a says: For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord…” Perhaps a better illustration would be a home cooked meal. Mother sets the food, and orders us to eat it – like it or not, we finish every thing on the plate. The preacher is the ‘spoon.’ He is a tool to get the substance to the person. Mother is the representation of God, food of the Bible, spoon of the preacher, and her children the listener. But that could possibly open the ‘inclusive language’ debate, not to mention various kinds of preachers like steak knife preachers, or butterknife, how about three pronged fork preachers (those with three main points)…ok, this is a run-on comment, I am shutting up.

  3. October 4, 2006 at 11:05 am

    Great post. For the last couple days Alistair Begg has been teaching on expository preaching on his radio program Truth for Life. He spent the last two mornings describing the different kinds of bad preaching. The comic, the story teller, etc. It’s really good check it out: http://www.truthforlife.org/listen_daily.php

  4. October 4, 2006 at 4:12 pm

    Thanks for the comments. Don, it isn’t the phrase “laid on my heart” per se, as how it is abused by some. It seems to be a leading excuse for preaching someone’s own opinions. Bill, smiles, you might be taking my illustration a little far, but the point really, of course, was about the job of the preacher, less about who God is. It illustrates what a preacher does. Thanks Will, glad you visited–I’ll look at your Alistair Begg site sometime when I get back, but I preach a large majority expositionally.

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