Pastor Phillips Brooks once said, “Do not stoop to be a king when God has called you to be a preacher.” What greater honor could God bestow upon a mortal man than to be a herald of the life saving, grace gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The primary Greek word translated “preach” is kerusso and the one declaring the good news is a keryx. The keryx would precede the royal entourage of the king and make proclamations prior to the king’s arrival. Pastors, we are heralds of the preeminent message of the King of the universe. We proclaim the everlasting gospel (euaggelion) of God that Jesus Christ is mighty to save all who call upon Him in faith and repentance.
As a local pastor it is my high honor each Sunday to preach an expositional message from Holy Scripture. Spurgeon, the prince of preachers in 19th century England, once admonished all pastors to take their text and make a beeline to the cross. Great advice. There is a scarlet thread of redemption that flows through the entire Bible, and it is the privilege and responsibility for pastors to make an appeal in every sermon for those listening to surrender to the lordship of Jesus Christ.
We should not wait until the end of the sermon to make our appeal to the congregation. I recommend that you include in your messages multiple appeals to your hearers to give their lives to Christ. Of course, it is most appropriate to make an even stronger appeal at the end of the sermon just prior to extending the public call to salvation.
Allow me to offer you some practical ways to preach for a response:
- Ask God to give you souls. Pray throughout the week as you prepare your sermon for God to encourage the saints of God that will hear you preach and also save the lost.
- Prepare your message with lost people in your mind and on your heart. I have found that the Holy Spirit is powerfully present in the presentation of the message if He is also deeply involved in the preparation of the message.
- Share personal stories of witnessing to lost people and leading them to Christ. Of course this presupposes that you are witnessing and seeking to lead people to Christ throughout your week. Recently I shared with our church how God led me to reach out to an African American man at a local 7-11 store. Fletcher works as a cashier and when I paid for my Diet Dr. Pepper I gave him a card inviting him to our church. I went back to my car and felt the Holy Spirit nudge me to go back inside and bless Mr. Fletcher. So I went in and gave him a $20 bill and you should have seen the look on his face! Two weeks later guess who shows up at church. I told this story not knowing of Mr. Fletcher being present for worship. After the service he walks up to me in front of many of our people at church and with tears streaming down his face gives me a big hug, shows me the invitation card I gave him, assured me he is coming back to church, and told me, “I can’t tell you how many people I have told what you did for me.” Pastor, let me encourage you to share Jesus and tell your congregation about your experiences. It will inspire and motivate them.
- Expect people to respond to the gospel. Billy Graham would extend the invitation with these words of anticipation, “As you come forward, we will have people at the front to help you.” He did not say if you come forward but when. A young pastor once asked D.L. Moody why people were not saved when he preached. Moody responded by asking him, “You don’t expect people to be saved when you preach do you?” The young preacher said, “I guess not.” Moody responded, “This is the reason why people are not getting saved when you preach. You don’t preach with the expectation of people getting saved!”
Pastor, may God infuse you with Spirit inspired dunamis on the Lord’s Day when you stand behind the sacred desk of God and herald the gospel of God so that all unsaved individuals within the sound of your voice will become the people of God!