To read the history of preaching in the Christian church is depressing for those men with a fire burning in their bones, today. John Chrysostom, stellar student of Antiochene school of theology, preached every day in Antioch and later in Constantinople. Expository sermons, festal sermons, and catechistical sermons were regular fare for those hungry for the Word of God preached, the faithful knowing no comparable taste to the delicacy of this splendor. Most of the noteworthy church fathers kept the same schedule for distributing daily bread to the people.
The mystery of preaching is the effect it still has today. Preaching is an event where the Spirit of God fills the man of God to proclaim the Word of God to the people of God. Preaching is supernatural. The Holy Spirit convicts people of sin. He also comforts, helps, and instructs the believer in the discipleship process. The Holy Spirit is the power in preaching, and He is the power in the regenerate heart to receive the message from those sent to them with beautiful feet.
God was the original preacher to Adam and Eve, but their disobedience to His Word is the ongoing negative tension in the tale of history. Their progeny ended up doing evil all the time, while ignoring Noah, a preacher of righteousness. The homosexual community at Sodom and Gomorrah terrorized righteous Lot with their immoral lifestyles, and they were not spared even though his contrasting life example spoke volumes to them. The patriarchs lived in fear of and preached the God of Israel to neighboring tribes. Moses, the Judges, the Kings, and all the Prophets were all positioned to reveal YHWH to Israel and to the nations.
Jesus entered his public ministry as a preacher of good news, followed by the apostles who boldly preached Jesus of Nazareth as the fulfillment of Scripture’s long-awaited Messiah. The church fathers followed the apostles in handing off the keys to the kingdom by discipling able men to herald the coming kingdom of Christ. God has provided a preacher to witness for Him in every era in history.
Preaching is not for the faint of heart. The assessment of the Bible itself is, “foolishness.” It takes a “fool for Christ” to see the wisdom in God choosing the foolish things of this world to confound the wise. God is not in a position to share His glory with another; therefore, He has chosen a foolish message in promoting the word of the cross. Listen to your preacher…Is the message about him or about Christ? A true preacher can only boast in the Lord. Preaching is humiliation for the preacher because he is not allowed to steal glory from God, nor will he gain favor with men. The seat of scoffers is sadly sometimes directly in front of him.
Preaching is dangerous. Here is a short history of the profession. They killed the prophets. They killed Jesus. They killed the apostles. They killed the church fathers. They killed the early reformers. The killed the later reformers. They killed the Puritan preachers. They killed the Covenanters. They are still killing preachers, today. Preachers who survive are mistreated because of the message. People hate the message, and it makes it easy to hate the messenger. The preacher asks, “Why do you seek to kill me?” Even then they claim he has a demon, while they plot his removal to cisterns and Sheol.
Pathetic preachers abound. There were those preachers who sold religion and its privileges to the ignorant. There were the ministers of government using religion as their pawn, in preaching societal control. There were the enlightenment philosophers posing as preachers. There were the moderates who found morality more respectable than the bloody man on the tree. The liberal preacher forgot Jesus in favor of humanism. The social gospel preacher promoted a salvation for good people doing good works. On the slippery slope with Freudian grace is the psychologist posing as a preacher. The con man preacher, carefully coiffed, is fascinating to watch as he fleeces the goats of their finances on television. Did Paul ever stop to consider becoming a Christian magician so he could gain an audience? False teachers, named and defamed on the pages of Scripture and their children, have been tickling ears since the Garden of Eden.
Preaching is the primary work of the pastor. The pastor can do nothing better for his flock than to prepare and present the Word of God. Preaching requires an extensive knowledge of the Scriptures — exegeted and exposed accurately. Preachers are held to a higher standard of judgment by the One who gifts, equips, and entrusts them with this calling.
Preaching needs prayer. Paul asked for the churches to pray for boldness for his labors of proclamation. Jesus is the Gospel to be preached. He is the wisdom in preaching. His Spirit is the power in preaching. All honor and glory are given to God when He is preached. Faithful is the slave of Christ who makes his Master known to the nations. Preaching is a privilege for the man whose heart refrain is, “woe to me if I do not preach.”
July 17, 2021