by Frank Himmel
Churches that are all about numbers gladly alter their activities to accommodate popular demand. While music usually gets special attention, preaching is no less targeted. Perhaps it would be timely to remind us all what God intends preaching to accomplish.
Preaching is to Instruct
In His wisdom, God arranged things so the world through its wisdom could not come to know Him (I Corinthians 1:21). Man does not know the things of God intuitively, either (I Corinthians 2:9). Spiritual truth was revealed by God to the apostles, and it must be preached to mankind (I Corinthians 2:11-13). Are you learning anything from the preaching you listen to?
Preaching is to Convince
Preachers must do more than assert spiritual truths. At Thessalonica, Paul “reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and giving evidence” that Jesus was the Christ (Acts 17:2-3). Does your preacher prove what he professes?
Preaching is to Command
The gospel is the good news that Christ died for us. It is also God’s requirement of us, both for salvation and our daily walk. Paul reminded the Thessalonians, “For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus” (I Thessalonians 4:2). Preachers, who do not relay Christ’s commandments, are not doing their job.
Preaching is to Rebuke
Not everyone is immediately receptive to the truth. Some stubbornly hold to sin and error. These need a rebuke. Paul told Timothy, “Preach the word... reprove, rebuke, and exhort with great patience and instruction” (II Timothy 4:2). He told Titus, “These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority” (Titus 2:15). The all-positive folks do not fully grasp the aim of preaching.
Preaching is to Remind
Not every sermon has to cover new territory. Peter wrote two letters primarily designed to remind Christians of what they already knew (II Peter 3:1-2). Both Timothy (II Timothy 2:14) and Titus (Titus 3:1) were instructed to remind the brethren. Given the vastness of spiritual truth and the ease with which we forget, reminding is a vital part of preaching.
Preaching is to Encourage
At the end of his first preaching tour, Paul returned to the places he had just been, “strengthening the souls of the disciples and encouraging them to continue in the faith” (Acts 14:22). Some accuse the preacher of being soft if he is not constantly “bearing down: on error or immorality. Though opposite the all-positive crowd, they share with them an imbalanced view of preaching.
And Other Things
Preaching is to admonish (Acts 20:31), warn (Luke 12:5), exhort (Acts 2:40), stir up (II Peter 1:13), etc. While no single lesson accomplishes all these things, balanced preaching to hearers who are regularly present does. Interestingly, entertaining is not in the biblical description of preaching. That is not God’s view of a good sermon.