Preaching the Word, rarer than we think?

Posted on April 9, 2018 
Filed under Encouragement, Resources

There is nothing confusing or surprising about Paul’s dying exhortation to his younger partner in ministry, Timothy : ‘Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction’, 2 Timothy 4:2.

It is not confusing, Timothy is to see that his ministry revolves around the public, open proclamation of the Word, the Word which God breathed out, 2 Timothy 3:16.

Timothy was a Pastor at Ephesus and he would have been very familiar with Paul’s pioneering work there. When Paul rehearses his method in planting the church to the elders of the Ephesian church, he speaks of preaching, teaching, declaring, testifying and proclaiming, all Word proclaiming words.

The explanation and declaration of God’s revealed Word was at the heart of first century apostolic ministry and must be at the heart of twenty first century apostolic ministry.

This is not confusing, a pastor today exercises his pastoral role by preaching the Scriptures, by correcting, rebuking and encouraging the flock with this Word.

Cut the modern day Pastor and he must bleed Bible!

Neither is this surprising, because Paul has already reminded Timothy that it was this breathed out Word of God which, ‘gave him wisdom for salvation’ and is ‘useful for teaching rebuking correcting and training in righteousness’, 2 Timothy 3:15-16. The Bible is God’s word, it’s origin is God Himself, not to preach it therefore and preach our own ideas is perverse.

The faithful preacher must set about the task of explaining and applying a passage of Scripture, be it a verse, a paragraph, a chapter or a whole book, it will always be the Biblical text which is the focus of the preacher’s attention. This is unfortunately, rarer than we think!

Instead we may have preaching which takes the idea of the text and preaches the idea in isolation from the text. We may have sermons which are addressed to all sorts of contemporary issues, which tell much more about the issue than what God says in the Bible. We may have sermons about a theme which follows the theme through the Bible in a doctrinal way, ‘flipping preaching’, which does not settle down in one passage and explain and apply that passage to hearers.

One Pastor said recently, does this mean I have to expound a passage every week? No, but realise that the week you don’t expound a passage is the week the sheep will go home hungry.

Does this mean we never preach on topics? No, it does not mean that, it means that we will never take a topic and not expound a section of Scripture in relation to that topic.

Let me give an example. Recently in the light of that very emotional confession of Australia’s cricket captain Steve Smith, I might have preached a sermon on the topic of, Why the world is in such a mess.

I would preach on the dynamics of Genesis 3, Adam and Eve receiving God’s word, but the contrary voice of the Serpent tells the lie and the lie is believed. The reason the world is the way it is, is because a lie has been believed.

I would cross reference just once, to Jesus’ description of the Devil as a liar and murderer, John 8:44, to show that the contrary voice is always the voice of the Serpent. I would warn the church to always be aware of two voices, one which speaks truth the other the lie, don’t follow the lie! Steve Smith listened to the lie that, the end justifies the means, don’t you listen to the lie, which always causes us to doubt that the Word of the loving God, cannot be trusted.

I have thus preached on a contemporary topic of why the world is the way it is, I have done it from Genesis 3, probably in a series on these early chapters. The Devil speaks the crafty lie; our parents believe the lie; God judges the serpent, the woman, the man and the earth. Therefore trust the Word of God, rightly understood and don’t believe the Devil’s lies.

John Chapman would often say in critiquing a sermon, ‘the authority is in the text brother, preach the text!’

Do you make the text of Scripture the object of your explanation and application, thus feeding your sheep?

David Robertson is quoted as saying, ‘A preacher who does not preach the Bible is like a comedian who is not funny, you wonder, what is the point’.

– David Cook.