Piper: Preaching Must Be the Portrayal of God’s Glory

Preacher, here’s a great statement from John Piper regarding your responsibility to display Christ’s glory as revealed in the Scriptures and thus help hearers change into His image. It comes from the first few minutes of this message (which is part of the series that is now in print as The Pleasures of God).

When it comes to understanding what should happen in the act of preaching I am guided by several biblical texts, especially 2 Corinthians 3:18.

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

I believe this text teaches us that one of the ways we are changed progressively into the likeness of Christ is by looking at his glory. “We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness.” The way to become more and more like the Lord is to fix your gaze on his glory and hold him in view.

We hum the music we listen to. We speak with the accent of our vicinity. We pick up the courtesies of our parents. And we naturally tend to imitate the people we admire most. So it is with God. If we fix our attention on him and hold his glory in our view, we will be changed from one degree of glory to another into his likeness. If teenagers tend to fix their hair like the stars they admire, so Christians will tend to fix their character like the God they admire. In this spiritual transaction seeing is not only believing; seeing is becoming.

The lesson I learn from this for preaching is that to a great extent preaching must be the portrayal of the glory of God, because the goal of preaching is to change people into the likeness of God. I think this fits with Paul’s view of preaching because just four verses later, in 2 Corinthians 4:4, he describes the content of his preaching as “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the likeness of God.” And two verses later in verse 6 he describes it just a little differently as “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ”. . .

Preaching is the portrayal or display or exhibition of divine glory to the hearts of men and women (that’s 4:4-6), so that by the beholding of this glory they might be changed into the likeness of the Lord from one degree of glory to another (that’s 3:18).

This is no artificial or merely intellectual construction. It is precisely what I know to be true from my own experience (as do many of you!): seeing God for who he really is has proven again and again to be the most powerful and compelling force in motivating my quest for holiness and joy in him. . .

That means that as a preacher I am constantly confronted with the question: How can I best portray the glory of God so that the greatest number of people will see it and be changed by it?

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  1. […] Piper on preaching God’s glory […]

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