A Syllabus for Preaching

The kind leaders at Reformed Theological Seminary—Dallas have asked me to teach Communication 1 this fall. It’s my first run at a practical theology class, and I can’t wait. The homiletical festivities begin tomorrow morning.

The class covers the bare necessities of Christ-exalting preaching. If you’d like a sense of where the course goes, check out the syllabus below.

Here’s a little clip of how we’ll start:

“It is, perhaps, an overbold beginning, but I will venture to say that with its preaching Christianity stands or falls.” So began P.T. Forsyth when he delivered the Lyman Beecher lectures at Yale University in 1907. Trepidation may have constrained Forsyth as he stood in the throes of New England modernity, but we can confidently acquit the Scottish theologian from being “overbold.” He simply read his Bible well.

God’s word tells us the Christian life is, this side of heaven, is lived “by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). In other places, we are told, “Faith comes by hearing” (Rom. 10:17) and “anything that does not proceed from faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23). Because faith is central, we can declare preaching lies at the center.

Preaching is the ordinary means by which God awakens cold, crusty, and callous hearts to breathe in the grace of faith (Ezek. 37:1–10). Preaching is the chariot that carries Christ to sinners’ bosoms and breasts (Col. 1:28). It is the spiritual sword God uses to assault hell’s gates and ruin Satan’s strongholds (Matt. 16:18). The Sun of Righteousness dawns upon the earth in His heralded word to harden clay hearts and melt icy souls (Mal. 4:2). Preaching convicts, illuminates, rebukes, encourages, and enlivens the soul.

We are thus engaged, over this semester, with the greatest of the great things, the deepest of the deeps, and the highest of the heights: preaching Jesus Christ.