Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Power of Preaching Today

There is an assault today on the art and practice of preaching in many churches. I have felt called to preach for a few years now and in my time in Seminary developed a love for not only the delivery of sermons but a deep appreciation for receiving the Word. I was blessed to be able to hear great men of God who were set apart in such a unique way by God for the proclamation of His Word.

In my time since graduating Seminary, I have had the chance to preach several times and have come to a deep love of the preparation and study necessary to stand boldly in a pulpit and speak on behalf of God to God's people God's eternal message. I have also seen a diminished view of preaching in many churches, where the emphasis has gone from the Word read and the Word proclaimed to worship being grounded in experience. This I believe is an outgrowth of the postmodern movement which seeks to ground truth in experience and that revelation and proclamation are to be placed more in the background.

The importance of Christian preaching is found in the person of God and His self-revelation to His people. God did not reveal Himself to us visually or tangibly, He is not seen or felt (counter this with a postmodern approach to worship being about experience and the visual stimulation of the stained-glass projector screen). Instead, God spoke. He speaks and Creation comes to pass, He speaks and His Law is inaugurated, He speaks and the sinner is redeemed. We speak because He has spoken (thank you Dr Mohler for your book on this subject), and our message is not innovative or new but is grounded in the words that have stood for eternity.

There is nothing new under the sun, and the minister of God should not seek to find an innovative way to proclaim God's Word, because the ordained method in Scripture is the human voice speaking to the people out of a biblical text seeking to proclaim Truths that demand a response. The Holy Spirit does the work of conviction and redemption in the ears and hearts of the hearers, it is not the responsibility of the preacher to egg on or lead or "develop and environment" of response, that is the Spirit's work.

I love preaching, I love hearing good preaching. I listen to good sermons while I work, it helps motivate me to put in more effort to strain for godliness. But I can only listen to sermons that are biblically-driven, exegetically organized, and expositing the biblical text. Those are the sermons that are true to the Jude 3 faith handed through the ages. We as pastors must always seek to lean entirely on the text for organization, application, and meaning. Preaching that does not call for an application and change of living is not Christian preaching, because we are to come away from the hearing of the Word with the question "How then shall we live?" and the sermon must be direct for a call of changed living and ethics and repentance for people to heed, as the message is not from the preacher but from God.

The church must always hold the preaching and proclamation of the Word as the central point and emphasis of any corporate gathering for worship. Anything else is un-Christian, and we must never forsake the preaching of the Word for the sake of "innovation" or "adapting to the times" or "because there's too much of it." The church that moves away from the primacy of preaching moves itself closer to a church that does not reflect the radiant Bride she was intended to be.

Pray for preachers, pray for your pastor that he would be emboldened to speak the Word freely, with passion and conviction, with truth and love, fidelity and devotion to the text, with the purpose of edifying the saints and calling for sinners to repent, Christians to cleave to Christ, and for those who hear him to say "God is at work in this place."

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