Nature of True Preaching 1

I have chosen to stress one fundamental fact, namely, that preaching exists, not for the propagating of views, opinions and ideals, but for the proclamation of the mighty acts of God. This is demonstrably the New Testament conception of the preacher’s task; and it is this that will always give preaching a basic and essential place at the very heart of Christian worship. (James Stewart, Heralds of God)

At the very heart of preaching is indeed Christ and Him crucified, but in preaching Christ in accordance with Scripture we must understand that He is the shining forth of the glory of God. There is no preaching of the true God apart from preaching Christ and Him crucified, but also there is no preaching of the true Christ apart from preaching the glories of the true God that He came to manifest and set forth. True preaching is not a simply matter of standing up front and explaining a text of the Bible, it is to proclaim (be a herald of) the mighty acts of God. Not only that, but it is to proclaim the mighty acts of God in a way where God Himself is set forth.

Preaching has become something of a form of teaching and instructing rather than a man sent by God who stands and declares the wonders and glories of God. Worse than thinking that preaching is simply setting forth some propositions of truth to people from the Bible, it seems that preaching has become man-centered and as such men think they are preaching when they are telling jokes and stories. It is utterly an abuse of preaching to do anything but set forth the wonders and glories of God. Yes, it is true, man has obligations to God, but if we are not careful we fall into legalism and leave men with nothing more than duties to perform. The obligations that men are to carry out are to be carried out in the strength of grace or they will be done by religious men thinking they are carrying out deeds of righteousness. The primary obligation that man has to God is to love God with all of his being first and foremost and that starts with adoration and worship. The obligations of man start with worship and adoration and move from there.

Preaching, according to Martin Lloyd-Jones, was logic on fire. That is one way of getting at one point, but another way of thinking of preaching is to think of it as a man sent from God who is heralding the truth of who God is and of what He has done. Preaching is not just telling people abstract truths about the Bible, it is to bring people into the presence of the living God or perhaps it is to preach in such a way that God comes down and visits His people. No, this is not in the power of the preacher to bring this about, but the preacher is to seek the Lord Himself and to come to the task of preaching with love for God and the power of God in his soul that he may herald forth the truths of God and seek the face of God.

When preachers do nothing but set out doctrines and ideas, they have fallen from heralding the truths to simply giving reasons for them. A man does not preach when he is simply giving reasons for certain ideas, though indeed those reasons may be good and the ideas may be true, but a man is not preaching until his soul loves God and he longs for the people to know this God and love this God. It is not enough for men to inform; they must long for and aim to set forth the glories of God in a way that people begin to cry out in their hearts to know this God. Preaching is when men are filled with the wonders of God and long for people to know this God in their hearts and to be drawn to Him and be filled with Him.

We tend to think of worship as the time where there is singing, but preaching is the central part of the worship service. It is true that the modern day has lost this concept, but it should not be a matter of singing and then being instructed in the Bible. All that is done is to be worship of the living God. Preaching, then, must be an act of worship on the part of the preacher and it should be aimed at proclaiming the living God in such a way that people are drawn to adore and worship in the preaching. The fact that one who claims to be a preacher and stands up and does what is thought of as preaching does not mean that true preaching is done. I would argue that epitome of true preaching is when the preacher worships while he is preaching and the congregation is drawn to the living God in true worship. When that happens, God has come down and is dwelling in His people in a “sensible” way.

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