Gospel Preaching 23

I Corinthians 2:2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.
3 I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, 4 and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.

Some pastors and preachers are lazy and no good. They rely on these and other good books to get a sermon out of them. They do not pray; they do not study; they do not read; they do not search the Scripture. It is just as if there were no need to read the Bible for this purpose. They use such books as offer them homiletical helps in order to earn their yearly living; they are nothing but parrots and jackdaws, which learn to repeat without understanding, though our purpose and the purpose of these theologians is to direct preachers to Scripture with such books and exhort them to plan to defend our Christian faith after our death, against the devil, the world, and the flesh. (Martin Luther)

One point that must be set out in terms of what distinguishes Gospel preaching from a lecture or some other kind of preaching (if there really is another kind of biblical preaching), is that of preaching from the intellect alone and preaching with spiritual wisdom and understanding. It can exercise the intellect to high levels when one sets out to wrestle with Christian doctrine, but if one wants to preach Christian doctrine one must understand it. Using understanding in this way it includes the whole soul which must be enlightened by the Spirit and it includes having a spiritual understanding which goes far beyond the mere five senses of men.

Ephesians 4:18 being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart;

The text is quite clear that unbelieving sinners are darkened in their understanding. This darkened understanding is linked with being excluded from the life of God. This darkened understanding is linked with ignorance that is in them. This darkened understanding is linked with hardness of heart. While there is not enough space in this type of setting to expound much at all on those topics, we can see that the unregenerate sinner can know a lot of intellectual things about Christianity. But the unregenerate sinner has a darkened understanding that is linked with having no life of God and hardness of heart. The heart is involved with a true understanding of Scripture and the life of God in the soul is also linked with this true understanding.

Colossians 1:9 For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,

The passage just above shows us that to have the knowledge of His will it is required that we have spiritual wisdom and understanding. If we don’t have spiritual wisdom and understanding, then we will not have the knowledge of His will. Now this may indeed get people nervous as they read this and think that surely this is some form of mysticism, but we must remember that this is Scripture. There is an earthly form of understanding and wisdom, but there is also a spiritual wisdom and understanding. This is an understanding of the things of the Holy Spirit and His work in the inner part of man.

1 Jn 5:20 And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.

The passage just above tells us that Christ Himself has come and given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true. In John 17:3 we are told that eternal life is to know the Father and the Son. But it is Christ who has come and has given us understanding so that we may have this eternal life. It is not that Christ came and gave us intellectual information only, but He came and has given us understanding so that we may have eternal life.

Colossians 2:2 that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself,

In Colossians 2:2 we see that the wealth of believers (in this sense) comes from a full assurance of understanding. This understanding results in a true knowledge of God’s mystery and that is Christ. We simply have to see that this is not talking about intellectual information alone; it is speaking of the great spiritual truths that are found in Christ. Gospel preaching, then, involves the preacher having a spiritual understanding of Divine things (the Gospel) and speaking of them in such a way that believers are build up in a true knowledge of God’s mystery. If Gospel preaching is nothing but information alone, then unbelievers can understand the truths of the Gospel. Surely it is obvious, then, that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has great and grand truths and teachings of Christ that are foolishness to the unbeliever and s/he cannot understand them at all. Gospel preaching is rare in our day because it takes suffering and a true dying to self before one can begin to have a spiritual understanding of Christ. One cannot find out the spiritual wisdom of Christ in a commentary, but instead God has to teach these things before one can preach them in a spiritual manner.

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