Should Preachers Always Call for Repentance and Faith In Their Sermons?

Expository preaching addresses the entire person—the mind, the affections, and the will. Sadly, many think of expository preaching only as mental instruction. While preaching must certainly instruct the mind, it must go further than mere mental instruction. An expository sermon must also raise the affections.

Jonathan Edwards, for example, spoke of this desire to raise the emotions of his listeners so that they might be on fire for the Lord and emotionally responsive to his truth. But a sermon must not only instruct the mind and raise the affections; it must also challenge the will. In other words, an expository sermon will always include a call to respond to God’s Word. By its nature, preaching both challenges and petitions the will.

Proclamation Demands a Verdict

An evangelistic sermon demonstrates the importance of calling for decision. In evangelistic preaching, the sermon invites unbelievers to repent of their sins and trust in the Lord. The ministry of Christ repeatedly illustrates this commitment to call for a decision. Christ says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matt 16:24). Elsewhere he says, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. . . . ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water’” (John 7:37–38).

Jesus continually invites unbelievers to respond to him in repentant faith:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matt. 11:28–30)

Jesus challenged the unbeliever’s will, and our expository sermons can do no less than call for a decision and invite the will to respond.

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SOURCE: The Gospel Coalition
Steven J. Lawson