1. The Glory of the Groan – Robert Smith, Jr.
I don’t mind admitting a little bias here. Dr. Robert Smith is one of my mentors. He is a preaching father to me. Still, this is the only sermon that has ever made me weep. I’ll never forget telling the story Dr. Smith’s preaching making me cry to Dr. Hershael York, preaching professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He said that Dr. Smith had likewise made him weep in a sermon, so much so that he had to pull over his car. As we discussed what it was that got us, we realized something: it was the same sermon. This is that sermon. An exposition from Romans 8, Dr. Smith’s sermon “The Glory of the Groan” will swell your heart with the goodness of the Gospel and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. This is the best sermon I have ever heard.
2. The Shepherd and His Unregenerate Sheep – Matt Chandler
This sermon caught me in two waves. At the beginning of my time at Auburn University, I was partying heavily. I was filled with guilt. I hated church and didn’t want to go anywhere near it. I saw God as vindictive and angry with me. My friend Drew casually sent me the now-famous “Jesus Wants The Rose” clip, and it changed my life. It turned me back to the Bible. It led me to learn the Gospel. It started me on the road to repentance.
When I was first called to ministry, I knew it was to preach. At the same time, I knew I still didn’t want to be anywhere near the church. The church was a place that wasted time on fun and games, that fought and gossiped, that said the Bible was inerrant but didn’t teach it with any measure of faithfulness. From the “Jesus wants the rose” clip to Chandler’s discussion of gospel-centered preaching, to his call for a holy life, this sermon has shaped me totally in regards to how I view ministry. I’m not sure there is a single thing in this sermon that I feel uneasy with or remotely disagree with. I have probably listened to this one at least 30 times. It has meant that much to me. I still feel joy when I hear it through remembering the good work God did in me as I heard it the first time.
3. Prayer As a Way of Walking In Love – Francis Chan
After my first semester of seminary, I was in a pretty desperate place with money, family, personal life, and more. For a variety of reasons, I had gotten into a rut where I simply would not ask God for things. I was anxious. I was falling apart. And now I will never forget that first line I heard in the sermon: “Jesus loves me this I know, because the Bible tells me so. Yes that’s true, but at this point in my life I can also say that I know Jesus loves me because of how he answers my prayers.” No sermon has affected my relationship with God through prayer as much as this one.
4. “Getting Out” – Tim Keller
I’ll never forget where I was when I heard this sermon. I was in my bedroom at college. I was trying to do laundry and listen to this, but before long I ended up laying on the bed and listening. I laid there about half and hour after the sermon ended with my mind racing. Wait, did he just…. did he really…. how did he see…. that’s how we read the Bible… WHAT?! This sermon is an amazing example of Biblical theology in preaching. If you’ve never heard, prepare to be amazed.
5. Passion, Purpose, and Designer Jeans – Louie Giglio
Louie’s winsome plea to student at the Passion conference is one of the most helpful sermons on vocation I have ever heard. His stories are engaging—Louie may be the best public speaker on this list. At a time when I and so many of my friends were struggling with a call to ministry or secular vocation, as well as not dividing our faith from our work, this sermon proved enormously beneficial.
6. The Mission – J.R. Vassar
J.R. Vassar is one of my favorite preachers. I have found his teaching on Sabbath and his teaching on mission to be some of the most clear and helpful there is. J.R. sermon here, from an Acts 29 Bootcamp for pastors, is a lucid explanation of what exactly the mission of the church is. I have listened to this sermon at least 10 times.
7. Passion for the Supremacy of God, Pt. 1 & 2 – John Piper
These two sermons, preached by John Piper at Passion 1997, are among the most famous of John Piper’s entire sermon corpus, which is really saying something. These sermons are especially precious to me for two reasons: 1) These sermons were the sermons that laid the foundation for Matt Chandler’s ministry that has meant so much to me and 2) these sermons further put in me a passion for the glory of God.
8. Missionary Commitment – Billy Graham
If this list had unlimited spots, I could have filled it with Billy Graham sermons. Billy Graham preaches with power and conviction that should be an model for all preachers. His interaction with the communist worldview, politics of the day, the Scripture, and passion for missions is commendable. This is a true classic.
I’ve included a clip of the sermon below, and a link to the full sermon.
9. Holy Spirit Empowered Ministry – Eric Mason
I heard this sermon in February of 2011 at The Resurgence “Our Fathers, Our Future” conference. I had never heard Eric Mason preach before this. It was my understanding that the session I was on the front row of seating for would be R.C. Sproul. I’ve never been so delighted to not get what I want. This sermon shaped my thinking at an incredibly formative time for me.
10. Universalism and The Reality of Eternal Punishment – Sinclair Ferguson
This two-part sermon by Sinclair Ferguson left me with a weight that, quite frankly, was terrifying. I don’t like to think about Hell. After Rob Bell’s book Love Wins came out, a friend pointed me towards this defense of the traditional doctrine of hell. It is weighty, saddening, and Biblical. But to have a theology where the doctrine of Hell is absent could only represent a loss. These sermons gave me that. Do not listen to these as you do other things. Set time aside.
Intimacy With God – Andy Stanley
Andy is an incredible communicator and this sermon shows that. Not only that, the teaching is solid. Andy and I don’t always agree, but when he’s on I think he’s one of the very best.
Moral Purity In Your Marriage – Dr. Russell Moore
Teaching on purity is often just shaming and guilting. Not this sermon. Dr. Moore is winsome, Biblical, and extends the grace of the gospel at every turn.
Divine Sovereignty: The Fuel for Death Defying Missions – David Platt
If you’ve never wept in public before, don’t make the same mistake I did by listening to this sermon on a plane. I was headed to Boston for a business trip, and thought I’d throw on a podcast. Huge mistake. Platt’s passion for the glory of God among all the people brought me to tears by the end of the sermon as David Platt lifted me up to the glorious throne room of our crucified Lord.
Never Spoke a Man Like This Before – Kevin DeYoung
In this sermon, primarily from the Gospel of John, Kevin DeYoung argues that Scripture’s inerrancy, authority, and sufficiency provides a foundation for both the truth of the gospel and our confidence in evangelism. Christians believe this not because of a modern, man-made ideal of “inerrancy,” but because Jesus himself thought and taught this way. As DeYoung said, “It’s impossible to uphold the Bible more than Jesus did. I heard this sermon at T4G 2014 and remember thinking, “Every Christian everywhere should hear this.”
The Path Sermon Series by Matt Chandler
After I was called to ministry and heard “The Shepherd and His Unregenerate Sheep” sermon, I turned to this. To this day, I would argue that it is the best sermon series I have ever heard. Not only that, in the middle of this sermon Matt received a diagnosis of terminal brain cancer. He returned to complete the series. What remains now is one of the best, short set of sermons you will ever hear on the Gospel-centered sanctification in all of life.
What About You? What’s the Best Sermon You’ve Ever Heard?