An anonymous story speaks to the question of whether or not gospel preachers and the sermons they preach really do any good. Reportedly, a reader wrote the editor of the British Weekly as follows: “Dear Sir, I noticed that ministers seem to set a great deal of importance on their sermons and spend a great deal of time in preparing them. I have attended services regularly for the past 30 years and during that time, if I estimate correctly, I have heard no less than 3,000 sermons. But, to my consternation, I discover I cannot remember a single one of them. I wonder if a minister’s time might be more profitably spent on something else? Sincerely. . .” As you might expect, the letter stirred up a rather large storm of angry responses to the editor that lasted for weeks, tossing the pros and cons of preachers and sermons back and forth. Until, that is, one letter shut down the debate. This letter said: “My Dear Sir: I have been married for 30 years. During that time I have eaten 32,850 meals – mostly my wife’s cooking. Suddenly I have discovered that I cannot remember the menu of a single meal. And yet, I received nourishment from every one of them. I have the distinct impression that without them I would have starved to death long ago. Sincerely …” I don’t know if you’ll say it with me or not but here goes – let the church say “AMEN!”
I have attempted to preach gospel sermons for more than 45 years. I estimate I have taught / preached 7,500 to 8,000 classes, sermons, etc. I keep a record of texts and titles I teach and preach publicly, and by referring to them can tell what passages / topics I studied and preached and when I did so. In preparing this article I tried to remember the first sermon I preached this year (2020). Alas, I found that for the life of me I could not recall the text or title! A week ago (July 12, 2020) I preached a sermon – and, to my consternation I candidly confess I couldn’t remember the title and topic of that sermon (until I checked my notes)! Can you (if you heard me last week)?!! I sort of doubt it. So the question is, what good does preaching sermons do? Words from Jesus in Matthew 4:4 bear on that question. There the Lord declared, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” People stay alive by eating and taking in nourishment for their bodies all week long. On Sunday morning, a Bible sermon, filled with truth from God’s word, is chockful of nourishment for the soul. Good sermons, Biblically defined, feed people spiritually. James provides another powerful rationale for hearing sermons when he directed readers at James 1:21 to “receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls” (see also Romans 1:15-17; James 1:21; 1 Timothy 4:16, etc.). Sermons, properly preached always help those who hear them properly. Food doesn’t keep you alive and well each week because you remember the exact content of each meal. Food keeps you alive and healthy because you ingest it and your body reaps the benefit. Don’t worry if you can’t remember all the content of a sermon. Just take it in – and if your heart is in the right place it will do you good! By the way, if you are curious, my first sermon in 2020 was Sunday morning, January 5; the text was Ephesians 5:14-17; the title was, “We’re Only Here For a Little While.” Last Sunday (July 12) the sermon I preached was a study of Philippians 4:4-8, and the title of the message was (remember?!), “At Peace in a Prison Cell!” Preaching does good – if preachers “preach the word” and if people hear and heed!