A truly great preacher is marked by a combination of faith and fire–faith in two senses. The first is the faith was once delivered unto the saints. The sermons of great preachers are messages of substance. They are not merely frothy concoctions of sentiment and anecdote, but rather they find their center of gravity in the purity of doctrine, in the profundity of Scripture, and in the power of the gospel. The second is faith in the sense of personal conviction. This living faith is also fuel for the fire. Great preachers have convictions that are contagious. They speak existentially to the whole person, unleashing deep emotions and galvanizing the heart, the intellect, and the will. They move their hearers, and not merely in an ephemeral or superficial way. Deep calleth unto deep. The hearer feels located, as if the preacher is speaking specifically to him or her. The messenger provokes a response in the listener.Timothy Larsen, writing in the foreword to Thomas Breimaier’s Tethered to the Cross: The Life and Preaching of Charles Spurgeon [affiliate link]
This sounds all of the right notes.