Have you ever considered how many miracles have to happen for a sermon to succeed?
In some schoolwork today, a homiletician I’d never heard of (John Edwards, a not-related influence on Jonathan Edwards) added to my understanding of one of my favorite verses:
What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.
-1 Corinthians 3:5-6
Reflecting on this verse, John Edwards underscores the countless things we must pray for when preparing to preach, recognizing that neither the preacher nor the hearers can do their jobs by human ability alone:
Therefore a man should never undertake the preaching work, but he should before it offer up a prayer, that God would direct and assist his thoughts, meditations, and studies, for the instruction and salvation of men’s souls. And he should beg the heavenly assistance not only for himself, but for his hearers. It was St. Paul’s constant practice (as we read) to pray for his flock: and the same is required of every good pastor, he must put up ardent addresses to heaven, that God would vouchsafe to enlighten their minds and affect their consciences by the preaching of the word; that whatever wholesome instructions he shall be enabled to deliver to them, may be faithfully retained in their memories, and conscientiously practiced in their lives and that the whole flock may be doers of the word, and not hearers only.
-John Edwards, The Preacher (2nd ed.), p.162
How many miracles does it take to preach a sermon? The preacher needs enlightenment. The hearers need enlightenment. Everyone needs help remembering. Everyone needs help putting it into practice. Considering how many individual lives make up “everyone”… it takes quite a few.
Yet, God does give the growth. Week after week, in so many thousands of gatherings all around the world, God performs miracles by His Word, using His Spirit to even work through fallible, human preachers and hearers to build up His body, for the sake of His name. To God be the credit, the glory, the praise.