What’s the big deal about preaching?

Dr. R. Scott Clark has a must read post (What’s the big deal about preaching?) on the necessity of preaching because it is the God-ordained means by which the Holy Spirit works to convict sinners of their sin (the law) and to produce and strengthen faith in the hearts of His elect (the Gospel).

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7 Responses to What’s the big deal about preaching?

  1. Joe Jon says:

    John,

    Wow, I’m commenting a lot here lately. When I see you over Christmas we will have to discuss how far this should be pushed in terms of preaching as the God ordained means of hearing the gospel and its connection to worship, evangelism, and other activities of the church. I’m thinking in terms of the regulative principle here. It would be interesting to hear your thoughts! See you soon!

  2. Hi Joe Jon. Great to always hear from you.

    Couple of thoughts. Our mentors from the Reformation insisted (rightly so) on the centrality of the pure preaching of the Word (both law and Gospel) as the first mark of a true church (see e.g., Belgic Confession, Article 29). Why? Because as I write above, the preached word by the power of the Spirit brings conviction of sin and salvation and strengthens the faith of God’s people (e.g., see HC, Q. 65; Eph. 4:11-16; 1 Tim. 4:6; 2 Tim. 2:2; 3:16-17). The rightly, pure preached Word (law and Gospel distinction; especially the Gospel in this case) is as the HC describes it, the “key of the kingdom of heaven,” (Qs. 83-84). There are no other keys!

    The Reformers (rightly so!) emphasized the necessity of the preached Word in the life of the church as both the means of justification and sanctification. Churches that neglect the preaching of the Word (both law and Gospel) do a great disservice to their people. No amount of Evangelical self-will worship and innovation (skits, secular love songs and ballads, seeker models, movie clips, purpose-driven, etc…) can replace or be more relevant or effectual than the humble yet powerful Gospel-means of grace (preached word and sacraments).

    The Gospel is to be placarded before us on all occasions in both word and sacrament. It is sad how many churches don’t get this. The Word and the Sacraments should be administered on a weekly basis for our comfort, assurance, conviction, motivation for obedience (i.e., sanctification) and heartfelt joy in God (see HC, Qs. 65-67, Q. 90).

    Gospel blessings!

  3. Jim Basinger says:

    While I don’t disagree with Scott Clarke on the importance of preaching, I think one needs to listen to exactly what Gordon Cheng (the person who made the original post) said.

    His point was not to devalue preaching, but to say that there were other ways to teach the word of God to congregations. Gordon has produced some excellent stuff for Matthias Media on one-to-one ministry. He overstated his point – but there other ways of proclaiming the gospel than from the pulpit.

  4. Hi Jim,

    Sure there are other ways of sharing the Word but there is a real difference between the public proclamation of the Word and the personal witness of Christians acting as private persons. I realize that “every member ministry” is quite popular in American evangelicalism but it hangs by a very thin biblical reed. I think it probably has a lot more to do with democratic populism than it does with the biblical view of the church. Our Lord did not give the keys of the kingdom (Matt 16) to every member but to the apostles, the first officers in the visible, institutional church. We need to think carefully about how we speak about “ministry,” and “preaching,” and even sharing the Word.

    rsc

  5. Jim Basinger says:

    Gordon Cheng is an Australian Anglican minister in Sydney. Plus, how in the world does ‘every member ministry hang on a thin biblical read.’ I would think you and I would rejoice when members of our congregations, to supplement the pulpit ministry of the word, would meet together, pray and read the Bible.

    What about Tyndale’s Ploughman – or the reformed insistence on the perspecuity of scripture and private judgment of individual Bible readers – which, properly understood, does not undermine the authority of the presbyter, deacon and overseer.

  6. Jim,

    1. Thanks I corrected his nationality. It was a typo.

    2. I tried to illustrate what I meant by “thin biblical reed” by discussing the EMM appeal to Eph 4. It doesn’t work. How can one make a case for EMM from an interpretation which rests on a comma? It’s a view in search of biblical proofs. I’ve had discussions with folk at the Puritanboard where folks have appealed to Heb 5 and other texts and, on inspection, none of those texts are actually teaching what EMM proponents claim. If a view isn’t biblical, it doesn’t have a lot to commend it.

    3. I’m all in favor of Christians using their gifts and fulfilling their vocation to be Christians, but I don’t think it’s biblical or helpful to describe the ordinary Christian life as “ministry.” I think that re-description owes more to American culture and pietism than it does to Scripture or the Reformation.

    rsc

  7. Jim Basinger says:

    One final comment. Perhaps a better word to use is ‘fellow-worker’ in the gospel. That unites both ordained and non-ordained as in Phil 4.3,

    “Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.”

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