And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless.

1 Corinthians 15:14

“And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless.” (1 Corinthians 15:14)

What makes for a good sermon?

Haddon Robinson was an outstanding preacher who had your attention from the moment he opened his mouth. I know, because I heard him preach several times, and his impact remains with me 30 years later.

He also spent many years training would be preachers how to preach. He once joked that, “Having spent a large part of my life listening to thousands of trial sermons, my friends are amazed I am still a Christian!”

What makes a good sermon, or preacher, good? What is it that makes you want to listen?

Paul says the foundation of all good preaching is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In fact, he states that without the resurrection, all preaching is “useless” or “vain.” It is a strong word to use because it describes something which is empty of quality, produces no result, has no meaning or practical effect – it is hollow.

“No matter how eloquent the words might be or funny and entertaining the stories are, if the resurrection of Jesus did not take place, then all preaching is a glorious waste of time!”

Why?

Because the heart and soul of Christian preaching is the death and resurrection of Jesus. Take that away and there is no Good News to tell, no freedom from sin and no hope of life beyond the grave. It is just another empty message among many in our world, offering us no hope.

I don’t think Paul means we should preach on the resurrection every Sunday, either. (Although a bit more resurrection preaching would not go astray!)

But I am sure Paul would also say that preachers must show evidence they know the Risen Jesus, He is active in their lives, transforming them into His image and encouraging those who listen to them toward the same goal.

Preachers who demonstrate by words and actions the Resurrected Jesus powerfully at work in their lives, are more likely to preach good sermons – the kind of sermons we want to listen to.

So, when you go to church this Sunday, instead of asking the question, “How long will the preacher be this morning?” why not say, “I am going to hear from the Living God today!”

You never know, you might just hear a good sermon!

For reflection: What are some of the best sermons you have heard over the years? What made them “good?” How have they impacted your life?