The gospel is…the word about Jesus Christ and what he did for us in order to restore us to a right relationship with God. – Graeme Goldsworthy

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Key to Reformation: Preaching is a High Priority

Preaching is a challenging – yet rewarding, discouraging – yet exhilarating activity for me as a pastor. Let me give you an idea of what the average pastor goes through: the eager anticipation of Sunday morning can easily turn into despair and endless “Monday morning quarterbacking” about our sermon by Sunday afternoon. In other words, our excitement to preach the Rock in the morning can turn into wanting to crawl under a rock by evening. If it weren’t for the Holy Spirit’s internal energy and driving call within our hearts to “get back in the saddle” for Christ’s glory and His church’s welfare, most pastors would have given up preaching years ago. To quit would be disobedience (2 Cor. 9.16); to hold in what we’ve delightfully studied would lead to a holy frustration that needs a blessed outlet (Jer. 20.9). Such is the marriage of the pastor to preaching the Word. It is wearisome – yet absolutely wonderful.

Every shepherd has strengths and weaknesses in the pulpit. No pastor is perfect. We’re fundamentally flawed because of sin and human limitations. Yet God condescends to use this thing called “preaching,” and He cares very much that it occupy a primary place in gathered worship. This is why our fourth core value at new3c reads as follows:

4. Preaching is a High Priority

Preaching is the God-ordained means through which His glory in the gospel is heard (I Cor. 1.20-21). Therefore, our community will mature doctrinally (Eph. 4.11-16) and grow numerically (Acts 2.40-41) as Jesus Christ is preached (Rom. 10.8-17) accurately (2 Tim. 2.15).

Implication: Preaching will be a significant part of our gathered worship, with preachers committed to the skillful and compelling exposition and proclamation of biblical text (Ezra 7.6b, 10; Matt. 7.28-29) and congregants eager to respond with gospel obedience (Luke 6.46-49; James 1.22-25; I John 1.6).

This priority of the pulpit in the local church was touched upon yesterday in the quote from Steve Lawson. Picking up where that quote left off, he gives a clarion call for this priority. As weak and wonderful as preaching can be at times – from the same man – nothing less than a revival of preaching will bring about a modern Reformation. As Lawson says,

Never has the need been greater for such a reformation. Our Word-starved pulpits beg for stalwarts of the faith to bring the Book to their congregations. However, only God can give such men to the church…

In this critical hour of church history, pastors must recapture the glory of biblical preaching, as in the days of the Reformation. Preachers must return to true exposition that is Word-driven, God-glorifying, and Christ-exalting. May the Lord of the church raise up a new generation of expositors, men armed with the sword of the Spirit, to once again preach the Word. The plea of Spurgeon, who witnessed the decline of dynamic preaching in his lifetime, must be heard and answered in this day:

We want again Luthers, Calvins, Bunyans, Whitefields, men fit to mark eras, whose names breathe terror in our foeman’s ears. We have dire need of such. Whence will they come to us? They are the gifts of Jesus Christ to the Church, and will come in due time. He has power to give us back again a golden age of preachers, and when the good old truth is once more preached by men whose lips are touched as with a live coal from off the altar, this shall be the instrument in the hand of the Spirit for bringing about a great a thorough revival of religion in the land…I do not look for any others means of converting men beyond the simple preaching of the gospel and the opening of men’s ears to hear it. The moment the Church of God shall despise the pulpit, God will despise her. It has been through the ministry that the Lord has always been pleased to revive and bless His Churches.

May God give to His church modern-day Luthers to bring about a new Reformation in this day. – Steven J. Lawson, The Heroic Boldness of Martin Luther (119-120)

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