The most significant thing the pastor does is to preach the Word of God. While he must engage in many different tasks, his preaching remains the most important because it is the most visible and valuable. Many of the congregation will never see the pastor except when he preaches. This leads to the question, “Why do we preach?” Specifically, what is our motivation? Where does the passion to preach come from? Do we preach because we are good at it, or because it gives us prominence and visibility? Do we preach because of a Divine compulsion that is placed upon me to do so?
How we answer this question is essential. It is not a matter of our abilities. The most gifted man and the least gifted man stand dependent upon the same divine call (1 Cor 1:26–29). Without such a call, no man should consider entering the ministry. Dr. Jeff D. Ray, longtime professor here at Southwestern said, “If a man goes into the ministry because he wants to, while in it he will conduct himself as he wants to and go out of it when he wants to, but if he realizes that he is put there by the sovereign call of God he will try to please God while in it, and he will stay in it till he receives a divine summons to give it up.”Jeff D. Ray, The Highest Office (New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1923), 83.
God has designed that His truth is revealed through the personality of the messenger. We are the incarnation of the Word of God as we preach. His Word, not ours, is what is desperately needed today. God communicates through human personality, not through religious ritual. Jesus Himself modeled this truth. He gathered His disciples around Him and taught them. He perfected the oral communication of the Word of God. Then He sent those disciples out to preach (Luke 9:2).
George Whitefield (18th century evangelist) said, “God alone knows how deep a concern entering the ministry and preaching was to me. I have prayed a thousand times, till the sweat has dropped from my face like rain, that God…would not let me enter the Church before he called me and thrust me into his work.”From Whitefield’s diary entry from June 17, 1736. Quoted in Arnold A. Dallimore, George Whitefield: The Life and Times of the Greatest Evangelist of the 18th Century Revival, volume 1, sixth ed. (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1995), 86.
The very nature of Christianity is that its life has to be communicated. Speech is the primary vehicle of that communication. Every sermon should be rooted in the Word of God. Such preaching nourishes the congregation and instructs and inspires believers to become what God intends for them to be. The consistent presentation of the Word of God is essential to the vitality and effectiveness of the church.
The first Apostles asked for the appointment of deacons so they could give themselves to the ministry of the Word of God and prayer (Acts 6). The Apostle Paul clearly described his primary assignment as preaching (1 Cor 1:17). The words “preach” or “preaching” occur 32 times in Paul’s epistles. The Apostle Peter described the “imperishable” Word of God and then stated that this was “preached” to the church (1 Pet 1:25). The Apostles described themselves as ambassadors, stewards, heralds, and preachers.
The importance of preaching demands God’s anointing. If we preach the Word of God, then we are His messengers, standing in His place (2 Cor 5:18–20). The church was born in the throes of preaching. The Gospel was preached before it was written. The vitality of the church rides on the wings of biblical preaching. The passion for the very life of the church is found in the power of the Word of God delivered through preaching.
When we lift up the Word of God as the actual voice of God, divinely inspired, preserved and sufficient for our lives, then the anointing of God will rest upon our preaching. No human idea, creativity or eloquence can take the place of the message of God’s Word.
The preaching of the Word of God is the central feature of worship and the focus of the function of public worship. In reality, the preacher is the worship leader in the church. There are many elements in worship, but the proclaiming of the Word of God is central to all those elements.
Preaching must be fresh and personal. It must flow out of the heart of the preacher, confirmed by the Word of God and the holy character of the preacher. We demonstrate the truth of the sermon with our lives. Such preaching will deepen our relationship with God and produce in us genuine holiness and integrity.
Every sermon must answer the inevitable question that comes when we preach: So what? What difference does it make? We must be able in our preaching to bring God’s Word so clearly that what we preached can be practiced in the daily lives of all who hear. We not only bring instruction of Biblical truths to our hearers, but we must bring inspiration and application to their lives. Hearers must be able to take something home to put into practice.
Jimmy Draper is the President Emeritus LifeWay Christian Resources.
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|1.||↑||Jeff D. Ray, The Highest Office (New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1923), 83.|
|2.||↑||From Whitefield’s diary entry from June 17, 1736. Quoted in Arnold A. Dallimore, George Whitefield: The Life and Times of the Greatest Evangelist of the 18th Century Revival, volume 1, sixth ed. (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1995), 86.|