Why Preaching?

In the early days of the church, some laughed at the message of Christianity. “A God who comes down to earth to die? What a foolish thought!” That’s the charge to which Paul responded in his letter to the Corinthian Christians: “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. … For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe” (1 Corinthians 1:18,21, NKJV).
It didn’t matter that some regarded the message of the cross as foolish; it was God’s chosen message. All who desired to serve God faithfully were under obligation to preach the message just as it had been given to them.
In our day, we don’t hear many who question the message. But there seem to be many who challenge the medium. “Preaching? That’s so outdated! Ours is an age that demands to be entertained. The message must be presented in new, creative methods.” That’s not an exact quote from anyone, but it does seem to summarize the feelings of many. Sermons have gotten shorter, dramatic depictions of the gospel story have gotten more common. Preaching has been replaced by high definition video clips. Appeals to the intellect have been supplanted by appeals to the emotions.
Why should we continue to utilize preaching? We don’t argue that it’s trendy, for it’s clearly not. But we do insist that it continues to be God’s chosen method of proclaiming the good news. Consider this statement in Titus 1:3: “[God] has in due time manifested his word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior.” God was under no obligation to any human being to reveal his will. But thankfully he did reveal it, and it has been revealed “through preaching.”
Later in the same letter, Paul pointed to the reason why God revealed his will: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:11,12). God’s grace is a favorite theme of all who claim to be Christians. But “teaching”? That’s not so popular in our age. It appears, however, from Paul’s comments that it’s a package deal. If we want to receive the grace of God, we’ve got to be open to his teaching.
We’re not trying to stifle anyone’s emotions. Emotions are from God, and they can serve useful and powerful purposes. But emotions cannot instruct us in the ways of God. The things that “feel” religious and holy are often not (Proverbs 14:12). Our only reliable path to pleasing God is by heeding the word he has given us. And that word is to be made manifest through preaching and teaching.
“Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:1).

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