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Preaching Difficult Texts

Greg Strand – December 19, 2014 Leave a comment

In your preaching and teaching ministry, what has been the most difficult and challenging text to prepare and preach? Why? What made it difficult?

This was the question asked of John MacArthur, H. B. Charles, Jr. and Al Mohler at The Expositors Summit, a conference on preaching. To set the context for each person’s response, MacArthur and Charles serve as pastors of local churches. They both have the privilege of preaching through the Word of God on a weekly basis. MacArthur has been doing that for 45 years! Mohler serves as the president of a seminary, so his preaching schedule is regular though different from that of a local church pastor.

MacArthur identified three passages of Scripture: Genesis 10 and the table of the nations; Zechariah and going through the text verse-by-verse; 1 John. His reason for the latter is that he found John is so strong, so black and white, that he was tempted to soften John’s harder edges by providing another side from Paul’s writings.

Charles identified Daniel as the most difficult, particularly Daniel 11. At the end of the day, although the details of the text might be difficult to sort out, the clear point is “God wins!” That is the clear and explicit message he made to the congregation.

Mohler pointed to the Psalms. The emotion and suffering of the Psalmist is so intense and corporate. That, however, does not match his own personal or corporate experience. With the global rise of persecution, the Psalms will resonate with believers and many will find the language to lament, to grieve, to be encouraged and to hope.

How would you answer the questions:

  • What has been the most difficult and challenging text to prepare and preach?
  • Why was it difficult and challenging?