Can I Get an Amen?

“Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior.”

Paul, writing to Titus, in, Titus 1:1–3

Preach it brother!

Can I get an amen?

Well, maybe not.

The impact and influence of faithful biblical preaching has diminished in far too many local congregations.

Who’s to blame?

Preachers might say the fault lies with their church boards, elders, deacons, councils, or with inattentive listeners, or with our image-driven culture. And there’s the problem.

God doesn’t call the church leaders or listeners or cultural mavens to preach. The Lord calls preachers to preach.

Preaching has always been, from the Old Testament prophets, through Jesus, through the apostles, and through two millennia of the Church, the proclamation of the Word of God.

Faithful biblical preaching does not need video clips.

Faithful biblical preaching does not need short skits.

Faithful biblical preaching does not need interviews.

Faithful biblical preaching does not need standup comics.

Faithful biblical preaching does not need to offer self-help.

Faithful biblical preaching does not even need Powerpoint.

Faithful biblical preaching requires a preacher, who is called, gifted, equipped and anointed by God, to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, and to use the Word of God to build up the people of God.

That was the ministry of Paul, and it was the ministry he was handing down to Timothy, Titus and others, which raises some questions. Here are three of them.

1. What is the place of preaching?

The first thing my professor of preaching said to our seminary class was: “Preaching is one good thing in the Church.”

My experience over a period of forty-eight years is that faithful biblical preaching is not only one good thing, but in our worship gatherings, it is to be the main good thing.

Paul describes the place of preaching:

“For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (Romans 10:13–15)

2. What is the power of preaching?

The power of proclaiming the gospel lies in the content of the gospel itself:

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:16–17)

When preaching omits the gospel then it is derived of its life-transforming power.

3. What is the purpose of preaching?

This can be answered by considering what faithful biblical preaching accomplishes in the lives of those who hear.

a) Preaching is to strengthen God’s people for daily life.

Followers of Jesus live in communities and cultures which are hostile to the Christian message. Careful exposition of the Bible encourages and strengthens Christians to deal with the obstacles to faith, and to overcome them.

b) Preaching is to support God’s people in daily living.

Remember what Paul wrote to Timothy about Scripture?

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16–17)

c) Preaching is to satisfy God’s people’s spiritual appetite.

The Sunday worship gathering is the time when the majority of the church family will be in the same place, at the same time, to feast on the same spiritual meal.

We should leave the service satisfied, but not stuffed.

d) Preaching is to stir God’s people to witness and good works.

Faithful biblical preaching will both inform and inspire those who hear to go out and witness to the gospel of Jesus by their words and works.

e) Preaching is to sort out for God’s people truth from error.

There are so many, so very many, false teachers, who have access to television and the internet, who declare and promote error.

It is the weekly task of the preacher to ensure that all who listen learn the difference between what is truth, and what is false.

f) Preaching is to scare God’s people, just a little.

This does not mean the preacher attempts every week to emulate Jonathon Edwards’ famous sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.”

But it is the role and responsibility of the preacher to confront us with all that Scripture says about sin and salvation, about punishment and perseverance.

When Paul’s other young pastor-in-training faced some walkouts, here’s what Paul wrote to encourage him:

“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:1–5)

As Paul says, preach it brother!

Can I get an amen?

Soli Deo gloria!