Friday, June 8, 2012

An Iron link between the word of God and preaching

I believe that the preaching of the word is the main way that God speaks to and builds his church as a body. There is an  the iron link between the inspiration of scripture, and the preaching of God’s word. They are absolutely related, and in many ways, cannot be separated. 

Notice what Paul says in 2 timothy 3 and 4. He writes:
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. 2Timothy 3:14-4:5

What we see there is an unbroken flow from the doctrine of the word, to the command to preach. There is no break in the original text. There is a break because someone put a chapter break… but it’s all tied together and the call to preach flows from the doctrine of the word. 

What that means is that through scripture God speaks, and when preachers speak — faithfully —when they faithfully expound the word of God… God is speaking. 

This has been a firmly held conviction of the church whenever it was at it's best and greatest centuries. Here are some quotes that on scripture and preaching that I came across recently for my sermon on the above passage.

  1. When the Bible speaks, God speaks.

  1. When a man enters the pulpit, is it that he may be seen from afar, that he may be preeminent? No, not at all! He preaches so that God may speak to us by the mouth of a man
John Calvin (Quoted from a sermon on I Timothy in T. H. L. Parker, The Oracles of God, 54). 

  1. The preacher's mouth and the words that I hear are not his; they are the words and the message of the Holy Spirit [through which] He works within me and thus He makes me holy."
Martin Luther, Luther's Works, volume 24, p. 170

  1. “Tis a right excellent thing, that every honest pastor’s and preacher’s mouth is Christ’s mouth, and his word and forgiveness is Christ’s word and forgiveness… For the office is not the pastor’s or preacher’s but God’s; and the Word which he preacheth is likewise not the pastor’s and preacher’s but God’s.”
Martin Luther, Quoted in Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics¸ I/1, p107

  1.  “[God] condescends to enter the mouth of every Christian who professes the faith.” [Therefore preaching must be] “believed as though God’s own voice were resounding from heaven”
Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, vol. 24, p. 66-67. 

  1. THE PREACHING OF THE WORD OF GOD IS THE WORD OF GOD. Wherefore when this Word of God is now preached in the church by preachers lawfully called, we believe that the very Word of God is proclaimed, and received by the faithful; and that neither any other Word of God is to be invented nor is to be expected from heaven: and that now the Word itself which is preached is to be regarded, not the minister that preaches; for even if he be evil and a sinner, nevertheless the Word of God remains still true and good.  
The second Helvitic confession

I know that this is a high view of preaching. But what I want you to see clearly is that throughout church history, there has been a high view of preaching, and when the church has been strong, it’s because the church has had a high view of preaching. But more importantly, I present this super high view of preaching, because I have a super high view of the bible. As a pastor, I know that when I stand in the pulpit, and when a pastor faithfully stands in the pulpit, they don't come with their own message. They come here with the word of God. I believe that through scripture God speaks. And when preachers speak — faithfully —when they faithfully expound the word of God. God is speaking…

Mark Dever once pointed out in a sermon to pastors… you aren’t called to preach. You are called to preach the word of God. I’ve never forgotten it. My message doesn’t mean a thing. God’s message… means everything. This is why I encourage each person in my congregation, look at what scripture says. I encourage everyone, be Beraans… the Beraens were of more noble character, acts tells us, because they checked Paul's words against the bible. I don’t count. My words don’t count. They have no authority… ALONE.

But if I, or any pastor is preaching the word of God, if his words line up with the word of God, pay attention even if it drives you up the wall. There is a story told of Karl Barth, the German theologian, that during the 1930’s, he was preaching on John 3:16. Even though many in his German audience professed to be Christians, they were going along with the persecution of the Jews. Barth made the point that Jesus was a Jew, that He had died for all the world, and that the Jews were part of that world. Thus anyone who loves Christ would not participate in  the widespread ill treatment of the Jews. Many in his congregation walked out in disgust before he finished the sermon. One wrote a scathing letter denouncing him. Barth’s reply was a single sentence: “It was in the text.” If its God's word, pay attention.

So that's some thought's on the link between God's word and preaching. As a pastor, this is my job. I am to preach the word, faithfully, and to always be prepared to preach, in season and out of season; when people want to hear it, and when they don’t, because I am preaching  God's holy word, and it is through His word that the body is built up together. And notice the connection between the word and what preachers do. The word of God corrects and rebukes… and what does the preacher do? He corrects, and rebuke, and with pastoral tenderness encourages the saints. Furthermore, he is to preach with great patience, giving careful instruction. (4:2)

This wont always be popular. Look at what timothy is told. "For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths."  But even when it's like this, pastors are to preach, to herald, announce like a town crier calling out hear yee…hear yee… this is the word of the Lord, and proclaim the gospel with boldness, knowing that they have been charged to proclaim the word of God.

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