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Greg Heisler: Spirit-Led Preaching

 

Greg Heisler, Spirit-Led Preaching: the Holy Spirit’s Role in Sermon Preparation and Delivery (Nashville: B & H Academic, 2007), 156 pages, ISBN 9780805443882.

Every Pentecostal minister should read this book. We Pentecostals agree strongly with Heisler when he says that the anointing of the Holy Spirit is very important in preaching. He strikes a significant note by emphasizing this in comparison to recent homiletical books that emphasize methodology, exegesis, post-modern preaching and delivery of the sermon—but not anointing.

Heisler connects the anointing with the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which he understands to take place at conversion. He sees this enablement to include being a person of prayer, trying to hear the Spirit’s voice, living a holy life, boldness in preaching, freedom, vitality, power, a force outside oneself taking over one’s preaching, and being free to stop or start preaching a sermon at any point of delivery. This book may even help you to affirm your own position on the anointing: is it a conversion or a post-conversion experience with the evidence of speaking in tongues? Although written from a Baptist position, there are many things in this book we Pentecostals can learn about the empowering work of the Spirit.

Dry intellectual preaching does not work. But how does a preacher receive God’s power? This book answers such concerns shared by many evangelicals, as did Aruto Azuria in his book Spirit Empowered Preaching (Ross-Shire, Great Britain: Mentor, 1998). This quest to understand the anointing of the Holy Spirit by evangelicals reminds me of the holiness movement of the 1800s that stressed sanctification as a second work of grace, and in their search, led some to the baptism of the Holy Spirit as a post-conversion experience (with evidence of speaking in tongues). Will this search for the anointing of the Holy Spirit help some reach a similar fulfillment? May we all seek God for more of his enablement.

“I do not believe the reformation of Christian preaching, specifically expository preaching, is complete. In addition to a strong emphasis on the text of Scripture, we must place an equally strong emphasis on the Holy Spirit who empowers us to preach the Scriptures.”

                      — Greg Heisler

Spirit-Led Preaching, page xv.

This book has several weaknesses when approached from a Pentecostal perspective. First, Pentecostal/charismatics, along with many New Testament scholars, believe that the empowering work of the Spirit is a post-conversion experience. Although Heisler looks at the writing of Luke-Acts, he does not see that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is subsequent to the conversion experience. Secondly, when we look at the life and ministry of the apostles, anointed preaching was bold, powerful, life changing and followed with signs, wonders and miracles. In my book, Preach the Word: a Pentecostal Approach (2004), I suggested that to proclaim the kingdom of God like Jesus and the apostles (cf. Luke 4:16-20) means not to present a sermon only, but a dynamic combination of sermon with signs, wonders and miracles. Third, Heisler does not emphasize prayer and fasting and suggests no specific daily time for prayer. Should we think that the decline of the anointing has nothing to do with the neglect of prayer and fasting? We see in the life of the apostles that a powerful ministry was a result of being filled with the Holy Spirit over and over again, and the early church prayed and fasted regularly; prayer and fasting seems to be a pre-requisite for great ministry.

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Category: Ministry, Spring 2010

About the Author: Aldwin Ragoonath, Ph.D., is a trained homiletician with over twenty years of pastoral experience in the Caribbean and Canada. His ministry is devoted to helping pastors develop their preaching gift, teaching Pentecostal preaching courses and facilitating seminars around the world. He and his wife make their home in Winnipeg, Manitoba. www.atmc.ca

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