Preaching That Changes Lives
“Preaching” is an ugly word to many these days. We use the word to describe someone on a soapbox, someone with an agenda, or someone who tries to unkindly force others to his viewpoint.
While I was on vacation and visiting at another congregation recently, my eyes were opened to the status many brethren give to preaching. We worshipped God in song, prayer, and took the Lord’s supper, but when it came time for the sermon, the preacher decided to “open the mike” for teens who had recently been to camp to share their experiences. After 20 minutes of camp testimonials, the preacher concluded, “well, I DID have a sermon prepared, but since we’re out of time…”
Had He been present in the flesh, Jesus would have preached. No “open mike,” no question about it. Is that not the point of His dialogue with Martha (Luke 10:38-42)? There are many things we could do in our worship assemblies, but God’s people ought to be interested in magnifying the Word more than anything else!
Fact is, preaching is not a dirty word. It is the means by which souls are saved. The inspired writer asked, “how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Rom 10:14). Again, he says, “It pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe” (1 Cor 1:21). God places a high priority on solid, substantive preaching. And so should we! Consider what substantive preaching entails:
It is Christ-centered — “I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor 2:2). Paul was well-educated and could have spoken at length on a number of topics. Paul knew, however, that preaching that does not exalt Jesus Christ does not help people out of their sinful condition. Is Christ magnified in the preaching you hear?
It is relevant — Substantive preaching hits people where they are. Paul called God’s word the “dynamite” of God that brings salvation (Romans 1:16). In a world that believes the Bible is outdated and irrelevant, Godly preaching thunders forth the timeless messages of God’s love, grace, wrath, and judgment. Those themes are relevant and applicable to every generation (James 1:22)!
It builds hope — Old Testament prophets are famous for their predictions of doom and destruction. Prophets never left people without hope, however! Even Jeremiah, who was instructed to, “root out, pull down, destroy, and throw down” among the ungodly hearts in Judah, was also instructed to, “build and to plant” (Jer. 1:10). Godly preaching can and should convict us of sin, but preaching that leaves the sinner without hope is not properly exalting our Great Hope (1 Pet. 1:3).
It changes lives — Not everybody wants their life changed. Some want to have their ears tickled (2 Tim 4:3) and hear, “smooth things” (Isa 30:10). Godly preaching hits people between the eyes and causes them to see how much more like Jesus they really can be. You’ll never find that kind of power in a self-help book or a “Reader’s Digest” sermon. In the word of God lies the power to free you from sin (Jn 8:32). God’s word has the power to change your personality (2 Cor 10:4-5). God’s word has the power to make you like Jesus (Gal 2:20). How about the preaching you hear? Will it change your life? — John Baker