The Purpose of Bible Preaching

“For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.” 2 Corinthians 4:5.

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By Robert Lee

The Lord Jesus Christ met Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus and gave him his life’s mission: “I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen of Me and what I will show you. I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.” (Acts 26:16-18).

This summarises very clearly the essential work of the church in every age. It is the main objective of true Christian preaching and teaching. Because we are created by the God of the Bible, any true development or progress can only begin when individuals are brought out of the darkness of sin into the light of Biblical truth. As long as man hates God and refuses to obey Him, he will never find a lasting solution to the earth’s problems. If God is rejected, then Satan (who exists) is the effective ruler over men and their societies. The troubles of our times and countries are directly related to the blatant disobedience of God’s commandments.  Man is everywhere tempting God to judge him.

Someone has written, “One foot of the preacher must always be anchored in the Bible and the other in the contemporary world.” The preacher must study both the Word and the world. The Biblical portrait of our world in need of Christ’s salvation must be the ultimate reality into which the preacher directs Christian truth. “The primary task of the Church and of the Christian minister is the preaching of the Word of God.” (Martin Lloyd-Jones). Lloyd-Jones also writes that renewed preaching always heralds the dawn of reformation and revival among believers.

Against all evidence to the contrary, against Biblical revelation, man keeps hoping for the best in a world that wants to live without the authority of its Creator to guide it. The Bible is dismissed as an old book. Yes, it is, but the question should rather be whether its contents are relevant to our daily lives today. The world continues to look to politicians, economic and property wealth, charismatic religious gurus, music, sports and other superstars to provide their deepest material, emotional and spiritual needs. Humanity looks for peace and ultimate happiness in all the wrong places. They are looking for a rest and contentment that is impossible outside of Jesus Christ, God become Man among us.

The Christian preacher, calling men and women from darkness to light, passes on the invitation of the Lord Jesus Christ: “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30).

The preacher must be able to see where and how “darkness” and “the power of Satan” are manifest in his world. As a warrior of Christ, he cannot fight and defeat the enemy unless he sees him, identifies him and confronts him directly. So often, the church and its preachers are not realistically engaged in the raging spiritual warfare and its deceptions. If many find Bible, church and Christians irrelevant, it is because many persons in pulpits do not apply Biblical revealed truth directly to the problems and evils of today’s society. Many church-goers do not find that the pulpit speaks realistically to their needs, concerns, situations.

There is also the problem of bad teaching and preaching, poor education of leaders and preachers, misunderstanding of Scriptural doctrines, theological positions which are erroneous, church power politics, divisiveness and many other human challenges in the pews. All these prevent the clear and correct exposition of sound Bible doctrine. We must also consider the existence everywhere of the “electronic church,” with big-name, rich preachers at their head, where a glamour and entertainment style attracts thousands into their huge meeting places and their TV and online spaces. It is hard, frankly, to find sound Biblical doctrine taught in those places where glitter, style and money hold the preeminence. Every now and then a big scandal breaks over these so-called ministries. Many local people are hypnotized by these religious circuses. So one must question whether Biblical preaching of sound doctrine is to be found there.

Martin Lloyd-Jones, one of the great preachers of our times, has written in his classic book Preachers and preaching (1971), “in many ways, it is the departure of the Church from preaching that is responsible in a large measure for the state of modern society. The Church has been trying to preach morality and ethics without the Gospel as a basis; it has been preaching morality without godliness; and it simply does not work.”

The great danger of our times is that evil and sin are called good, and good is rejected as evil and hypocritical. Much that was once anathema is now popular and accepted. Freedom and rights are the clarion calls of rebellion against God. While a society like ours is still ostensibly “religious” and churches are full, clear preaching of the Biblical Christ, importance of the moral and spiritual standards of the Bible in private and public life, are widely mocked and despised. Many proclaim themselves atheists. The Bible is rejected as an old book, irrelevant to these modern days. Yet one hears of a growing interest in the occult as well as in other new-age religions. And certainly, with a popular view of God as sentimental Love, any talk of judgement or hell is not tolerated.

The Bible promises inevitable judgement. Judgement is as much part of sound preaching as the holiness, love and mercy of God. One is free to choose one’s life style in our liberal democracy. But just as there is law in our land against crime, there are consequences beyond the grave for the choices we make in this life. “Do not be deceived. God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows that he will also reap.” (Galatians 6:7).

But Biblical preaching also promises to faithful believers a “new heavens and a new earth, the home of righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13), where Christ the main subject of preaching, rules as Prince of Peace and Purity. We who preach call men and women everywhere to repent (change their lives), to believe the Gospel, the good news of salvation which all humanity needs.  Biblical preaching proclaims that God “has appointed a Day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” (Acts 17:31). The purpose of sound Bible preaching is to keep these revelations before all till Christ returns. The old Book still speaks clearly, loudly and relevantly today to those who will listen.

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