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Beware of Proclaiming Yourself!

Posted by Scott on March 26, 2008

By: John Piper

The great challenge of the preacher is to follow Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:5, “What we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.”

But there are more ways to preach ourselves than one might think. This word from James Denney has exerted a sobering effect on me since I first read it in 1982. He had these words framed and posted in the vestry of his Scottish church.

No man can bear witness to Christ and to himself at the same time. No man can give the impression that he himself is clever and that Christ is mighty to save. (Quoted in John Stott, Between Two Worlds, 325)


5 Responses to “Beware of Proclaiming Yourself!”

  1. steveanrk said

    Hello John Piper

    I have a doubt hope you will be able to clear the same.

    I was studying Gen. Why does God favour Jacob even when he is a cheater ?

    Awaiting your reply….


    Hey Steve, I am not John Piper. What in the world are you talking about? Does not have anything to do with what has been presented. Hope you do not proclaim yourself above Christ? Scott

  2. bshelley said

    Excellent quote. Thanks for sharing that. My wife has to remind me of the same thing at times. If I stand in the pulpit and spend a lot of time relating stories from my childhood and so on, she asks me “Are you up there preaching Jesus or Bryan?” It is a sobering question. I pray we all represent the frame only that Christ’s picture might be seen.

  3. hurst said

    You know I just spoke about this subject this morning and I looked at it in a different way until I read 2-Corth…

    Should we not use ourselves as example to bring a figure that the people are seeing and hearing?
    I am preaching God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit, but I tell of the changing life style that God brought me from. I tell of the way that I used to live but the power of God infiltrated my heart and made me whole.

    Is that wrong? Looking for answers!!


  4. Scott said

    I don’t think testifying to what God has done for us is the same thing. The real meaning is that we exalt God in every conversation and action and make sure we are not thinking that we had anything to do with the progress. Once we are of Christ then we relinquish our power and rights in order that Christ can take over and use us. So, it is when we speak of “I did so and so” or “I did that” is when we get in trouble…rather it should always be what “God did this through us”.

    My pastor, Chuck Swindoll, has often said that when someone puts you on a pedestal, be sure to take yourself off that pedestal immediately. Graciously saying “thank you” is one thing, but never stay on top or we will start believing in ourselves rather than Christ. People will come up to us and say “that was a great sermon you preached pastor” this is your opportunity to gracefully state who it was that gave the message and who the servant was to that message. It is not that we can keep people from pumping us up, but we can control the end of that conversation. I could give you ample stories of preachers I see weekly that believe somewhat that God cannot do it without them. They think that it is really them delivering the message rather than the Holy Spirit using us as empty vessels to deliver His messages. I think you are most likely in good shape…it is good to have something like this thrown out at us to make us think about what we say and do…is it to honor God and is it honoring God or me?

    Hope this helps you some.


  5. I feel more individuals will need to read this, extremely great info.

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