Full Text for Preaching (Text)

Preaching P IIEIICI-IERS CAN EASILY become discouragcci with the task of l>reachi~ig either froin cspecting too much or too little of it. The man mlio expects too ~IILIC~~ of preaching espects the sermon to [lo evcr~~thing in the life of the congregation and beconles diccnrlraged wheil changes in the lives of peoplc do not becolnc immeOiatcl\. ap- parent as a result of a sermon. This pastor fails to sec thc seilnun as hilt o~ic part of a configuration of ncti~rit! clcsigncd to equip the saints for their ininistr\~. sermon is al\\ia!s ~upporti\~e ot' evan- geIism, stcwarclship, pastoral care, ancl anv other activit~ of the p:irish. Thc brothcr who becollies cliscouragc.tl n;ith l~read~ing be- cause he expects too Iittlc of it feels that preaching is onlv words, his \\lords, weak ancl halting, and fails to see it as a mighk act of Got1 \\ho through thc FooIishiicss of preaching saves those. that be- lie\ e. \\ hat is a sermon? rl clefinition is liclpful: X scniion is thc p~~blic proclamation of the \Vortl of God bv the callctl ministcr of Christ for the edification of God's peol3lc. 'The first accent in this definition is that thc scrmon is the public proclal~iation of the \\70rd of God. This statement tells us, first of all, that the \\'ord of God, the sacred Scriptirrcs, are the sourcc of the sermon. The pull~it is not a rostruni for thc airing of private opinions. Nor is the s~~~rcc of the sermon a contei~il>orar) e\iciit 01- a 13rohlenl of man. \\'bile the scrmon may and, in fact, prol>abl\ shoultl acltlrcss it~lf to ;I contcmporarv e\.ent or a prob- lciii of -man, t11c sourcc of the scrmon is al\\ia\.< the \I7orcl of God contained in the Sacred Scriptures. "Thus snit11 tlie Lord" must al\.~a! s be the charactc~ristic note of authorit\. in preaching, for God sqs: "Flc that hat11 1111~ \\lord, let him spealc mv \\'ord faithfull\," ?, (Jeremiah 23 : 28). 1llc scrmon that \\ins the heart$ of men is onc which makcs thc. inspired \\'orcl of God a coi1tci1i1~or~1r\ \\'orcl. \\71~cn n-c sa!. that preaching is thc l>ublic 1~roclal:lation of \\lord of God, n.c arc sa\~ing more tl~nn that the Bible is tljc source of the scrmon. \\'e are saying that prcacl~ing is tlie \\!orcl of C;ocl. 1 Paul makes this bold assertion when hc sa\s 1 Tlicssalonl~i.ns 2 : 13 : "\Vhen vc I-cccived the \\7ord of God ~vhich vc heard of rlc. ye re- ccived riot as the \Irord of Illan, but as it is ill truth, thc \\'ord of God." r,~~tllcr lo17ed to speak of the preached \\'ord as tlie ~~i~~n 17ox olicrngclii. 1,istcn to this high \'ic\v Luther has of preaching: You clo well to call the \\'orcl of thc pastor and 11reaci)cr \~illcn he preaches, the \\7ord of God. For the officc is not that of tlie pastor ant1 preacl~ci-, bl~t of God; an(] rhc lvortl that he ~~rc~ach(\s is not the \\'ortl of the ],astor ailcl l,l.eachcr, but of God. If IYC ~~IICLY 3 ch11rc11 111 tlii> \\[jiIss in \.our own cl~urcli at lioi~ie fronl \our own pastor. (J'~.~l., 111, 376>. Jesus tlimself malies this idcnti1ic':ttion of thc \\ord of thc preacher \vith tlie \\'ord of Cod \~~hcn he sa\.s: "1-Ic that hcarcth 1.0~1, hear-ctli Ine; hc that dcspiseth ou, clespr~cth mc. 311~1 Ile tliat dcspiseth mc, dcsliseth hi111 that se~lt mc" (Luke 10: 16). \L hat a grcnt 11ri\7ilcgc it is tlint the \\'ord of (:ocI shoultl as it wcrc he incarnated in us, c;\rthen \~csscls. This is \\,hat ga\c I'aul the tcriierit\, to say: "N~\Y thcn \\e arc ambassatloss for Christ; as tlio~1~1i Got1 (lid h~scecli \011 111 LIS, we beseeell \IOU jn Christ's stcatl, bc yc. rcconci1c.d to GoclJ1 (2 COG. 5 : 20). 13111 ol~r cli~i~~i for prcacl~ing is even morc than this. \\'c tlo not oril\ sa! that l>rcaclijng is the \\'ord of God, hut ;11so that ~>rc.achiilg is tlic dcctl of Gocl. l'rc.;~ching is not onl!; n.ortls, 11ut God at ivorli through our \\ortls in tlic 11cal-ts of mcn. 'This is Iio\\r the For~rlrr la of Collc-ot-rl 1x1 ts it : -7 1 llro~rgl~ tlicsr~ Incalls (namclv, tlie prcachirig nntl hearilig of the \\lord) Got1 is actir..c, hrdahs our hcarts and draws men . . . tl~c \\'orel \\.hich is Ilcarcl and preachcct is an office and work c;C thc. I-Iol\ Spirit \vlicrch\, he ~lss~lrcdly is l>oteiit n11c1 actirc. in our I~c:,l-is. (FC, Sl), 11, in Tappert, pp 53 1 f.) 'The \\'hole Scripture is rcplcte \\ it11 passages \\lhich dcscrihc this cl\ nariiic character of tlic \\'ord of God. The Gospel is theĀ‘ pon-cr of Got1 unto snl\ration to c\7crj80nc that bclierctli (Ilonians 1 : 16). The \\lord is quick and pon~crful (1lcbrcn.s 4: 12); it docs not rc- t~~rii \raid ( Isaiah 5 5 : 1 1 ); it sanctifics nncl clcanscs thc church (Ephesians 5 : 2 5) ; through it men arc lccl to 1<1101\- the truth (John 8 : 3 1 ) ; mcn arc born again b! thc \\'ord of Gocl ( 1 Peter 1 : 2 1 ) ; fail11 comcs 11) lieariiig and hearing by tlic \\lord of God (Ronlans 10: 17); it is able to save souls (Jamcs 1 : 2 1 ); it cauws 11s to gro~\ ( 1 I'ctcr 2: 2). No\\ all of this ouglit to I>c lilost encouraging to LIS \I 110 Sun- da), aftc.r Sunda\ stand up to speak f01- God. hl~~ch ruorc is happen- ing as \vc prc;~ch that our speaking; God himself is at ivorli. 'That's 1\~111- n7c do riot gii7c 1113 on 1,reacIiing. \\'it11 Paul uTe ca11 sav: "\\'e ha\.c its treasure i11 earthen \~clsscls that the CXCC'IIC'IIC\~ of tlic po\ver ma! l~e of Gocl nritl not of us" (2 Cor. 4: 7). \I1c> liarc said tliilt Cocl is at \\or-]< through prcachiiig, 1111t \vllnt is God trj ing to (lo in thc li\tcs of men through lwewl~i~~g? 111 a 11-orcl, IIc. is tr\ iilg to bring men to fail11 and to 1Ircscrvc tlien~ in it. In its utter rcalism the Uiblc tlescrihcs man by nature as in a statc of death (Komnns 5: 15), which is separation fro111 God. T11 this statc of rebellion against Gocl, natural man activehr opposes God nncl tlie rulc of His gracc. The v-cy remedv, the pr6aclii~~g of the cross, is foolishiless to hiin. This nian is the ohjcct of God's conccrn. Through tlic preaching of the Law God is enclea\roring to hr~iig hi111 to tllc ~lio~I\ of rccognitioli of I~i~nsclf as a sil~iier bc- fore Gocl. 'Through 'The (:ospcl (:o(i is cncIea\oring to bri~ig 11im into a f'aitll rclatiolisl~ip with I~ilnself. But Goct is also coi~c~rncd in 17rc.aching with tllc Christian. God tllr~~igb the \\'or(i is b~isy edil'jing him, buildi~~g hi111 up ill his faith and lo~c'. 'Throug1i the Ida\\ God a1wa1.s alerts us to thc s!nll~to~msof tleiith in us v hich ~i?uzt clciil\ be molish tlic goals of prc>aching, the conversion of sir111ers antl thc c~lificatioii of the s~ii~~ts. 'I'l~js is ;inotllcr \\;I\. of sa!ing tliat prc~:~ching :il\~~nys opcratcs 11c.111 vcln to foci, tlie truths of the \\'ord of Gotl :111(l the ncccls of mcln. 'To prcach one ~vithout the othcr is fault\- ptcaclling. r170 17rcach only the doctrines of thc \Vord opens thc (loor to irrelevance. To preac11 onlv t!ic ncecls of men opens the door to (lctailccl analysis of need \\itliout supplying answers to i~ccds. Goocl prc1:lching combinc~s both thc tru tlis of Gocl's 'i'i70r(l ant1 the. ~ic~c