Mile Long and a Quarter-Inch Deep

For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. 1 Thessalonians 1:5

All of our preaching is vain unless empowered by the Holy Ghost. No amount of technique or finesse or talent matters if God is not helping us. I read a lot of sermons from preachers from the past. I have noticed that most of the time they would take a very short text or even part of a text before preaching. I am thinking of C. H. Spurgeon s sermon “Little Sins”. His text was part of a verse from Genesis chapter nineteen. “(Is it not a little one?) To be fair I think most of these churches had a “reading” which would include the whole chapter from which the text was taken before the preacher came to the pulpit.

I think Dr R. L. Hymers makes a good point in the following quote. We who are preachers should consider what he says and also study the sermons and men that God has used in the past. – Shawn

“Baptist people are made shallow and uninformed by Bible “rambles” that are a mile long and a quarter-inch deep. If you are covering eight to ten verses, you are forced to be very superficial – and this does not give the people in our pews the meat they need! Only expositions on one or two verses can go deep enough to give the people meat instead of pablum! 

I believe in exposition, but it should be confined to one or two verses only – or even a phrase – certainly not to eight or ten verses – or more – as is so often the case today. Verse-by-verse preaching is, of necessity, not only too shallow, it is also, of necessity, too scattered to be motivational. The greatest preachers of the past, like Whitefield, Wesley, Edwards, and Spurgeon, knew that. They knew that if you want to motivate people to a given course of action, then you must not get bogged down in a prolonged series of comments on an extended passage of Scripture. Whitefield and Wesley changed the direction of a civilization! You can’t do that with a rambling commentary! Great sermons move people to action! Today’s insipid “expositions” move people to sleep – mentally and spiritually and, yes, emotionally as well.”

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