For seeing that in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom knew not God, it was God’s good pleasure through the foolishness of the preaching to save them that believe.
—(1 Cor. 1:21)
It becomes necessary from time to time for Christians to reclaim words. Naturally words morph and change over time. But sometimes the changes are evil and must be resisted. So it is with the definition of the word, "preach." This word and its cognates have become almost completely negative in our day. To get "preachy" is to be sassy, bossy, and to intrude where you’re not wanted. "Quit preaching at me" is a tried and true way for a teenager to silence his or her parents. What has happened?
For Paul, preaching is power. For Paul, preaching is life. For Paul, preaching is the one and only God-appointed means of bringing the blessings of salvation to men. Whose definition are we going to use? As for me, I’m sticking with Paul's!
It is common in our day to downplay the role of teaching and preaching in the life of the church and in the office of pastor. Ministry, we are reminded, is more a matter of modeling than of words. But words are the medium that the Triune God has chosen to carry the news of the Gospel. His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, is the eternal Word of God. To dishonor the proclamation of the Gospel in words is to dishonor the Word.
Another disorder current in our day is a general unwillingness to receive correction. The kind of preaching that is commonly heard from American pulpits is tame and gentle. No fire and brimstone, please! But the preacher wields a sword. The preacher is a warrior. What commander would want a gentle warrior or a tame soldier fighting under his command? Preaching must be daring. It must be bold. The Word of Christ thunders. Can preachers do less?
To recover God-honoring preaching in our pulpits we need therefore to learn wisdom from the past. Previous ages have heard the Gospel roared from the mouths of Lion-like pastors and preachers. We want those days again. Preachers and those who listen to them must therefore train ourselves according to a different standard than that which we’ve found ourselves mired in.
Let's recover the word preaching from the dustbin of the world. With Paul, we believe that the preached word is the "...power of God to salvation for everyone who believes..." (Rom. 1:16). The resources we offer at Exodus Books stand in an earlier tradition, a tradition that honors the preached Word of God.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
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