What kind of preaching is needed by the church? Do the Lord’s people need to hear dissertations on Chinese proverbs written by Confucius? Not unless they are simply used to illustrate a scriptural point. Is preaching on the ‘pet peeves’ or ‘hobbies’ of the preacher what the children of God need to hear from the pulpit? Sometimes, maybe, if they are scripturally motivated. Should the sermon be presented in such a way as to send the entire audience home feeling good about themselves? Occasionally, yes. However, if the preacher always preaches ‘sunshine’ and never preaches ‘rain,’ he is not preaching the whole counsel of God, because the whole counsel of God contains both ‘sunshine’ and ‘rain.’ Does the church of Christ need to hear sermons that are presented by way of entertainment? In other words, sermons that are ‘preached’ using drama or stunning visual effects. NO. That is not preaching! A scriptural sermon can sometimes be illustrated with the use of humor, or visual aids that are not used for the express purpose of entertainment. The occasional ‘preacher story’ is useful as an illustration, but should never take the focus of the sermon away from the Holy Scriptures. Many of the ‘sermons’ that are ‘preached’ in the religious world are nothing more than fluff and are of less value than a “poke in the eye.” At least with a “poke in the eye” you might learn not to play with sharp objects, but with many ‘sermons’ you learn absolutely nothing that is of value.
What kind of preaching is needed by the church? Bible preaching! What kind of preaching teaches the whole counsel of God? Bible preaching! What kind of preaching uplifts those who are spiritually downtrodden, or brings down those who are “puffed-up”? Bible preaching! The preaching of the Word of God is what the children of God need to hear most! Only the Gospel has the ability to meet the spirituals needs of all men, women and children. The Gospel is THE POWER OF GOD unto salvation for those who are lost in sin and for those who are found in the Lord’s church. No other preaching will suffice other than the preaching of God’s Word.
Preaching God’s word is what causes those who hear it preached to have faith. Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” The gospel has the power to save mankind from sin, Romans 1:16 “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” But it must be preached and heard for that power to have any effect. How can anyone believe the gospel if they do not hear the gospel? Romans 10:14 “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” What happens when there is a preacher, but he does not preach the gospel? NOTHING. Yet that is exactly how it is with many ‘preachers.’ They preach all right, but they do not preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. Many preachers go to God’s Word looking for scriptures that seem to support their theological suppositions, and fail to treat the Bible in a holistic manner. They dissect it in order to get what they want out of it instead of looking at the Bible as a whole and get out of it what is there and to preach it as God’s message rather than their own.
If the gospel, the whole gospel and nothing but the gospel is preached then those who hear it cannot help but benefit from it! It may not always make them feel good about themselves, just as pain doesn’t make a person feel too good. Pain oftentimes, though, serves as a warning against physical harm. For instance, you feel pain when you get your hand too close to the fire and you jerk it away. But what if you felt no pain and you were to stick your hand in the fire? You would be standing there feeling good about yourself while your body caught fire and you burned to death. Sometime the gospel warns us in a similar fashion. If there were never any pain caused by the preaching, then many people would be just standing pat, thinking that everything was fine, while all the while they were burning to death spiritually! The whole counsel of God includes such painful warnings. It must be preached!
The best formula for what true preaching ought to be is found in the Bible. In Nehemiah 8:5-8.
“And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people;) and when he opened it, all the people stood up: And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground. Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place. So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.”
In this passage, we note that Ezra read from God’s Word to the entire nation of Israel. He was standing before such a large audience that he needed 13 other men to help him reach them all. (I guess they couldn’t find a portable PA system.) Ezra and his helpers read the scriptures to the audience distinctly, so that all could hear. They also gave the audience the sense – they helped them to make the proper application of God’s message to their lives. And they presented God’s message in such a way as to allow everyone who heard it to understand its meaning. That was preaching! That is what the people in that day needed to hear! Why would people today need to hear anything different!? Preaching the gospel means to preach the GOSPEL!