This was Paul’s command to Timothy and is God’s command to those who would lead His flock today. In my previous blog I pressed the case that this is the single most important evaluation we need to make about our candidate before we vote whether or not to call him.
“But Donn, don’t all pastors preach the Word?”
Sadly, no. Now let me quickly say that I have never met a preacher who would say he did not preach the Word, but often there is little understanding of the difference between preaching the Word and preaching about the Word.
“Ok, Donn, now you’re just playing games with words. You must have some kind of point you want to make here.”
Yes, indeed I do. How many times have you heard a preacher announce a text, read the text, and then launch into a discussion about a wide range of topics and subjects that had nothing to do with the text he just read? Everything he says may be true, he may talk about the Bible, cite some Bible stories, read another verse or two here and there—but nothing about his message rose from the text itself! Each point of his sermon was something he thought would be profitable to share with his listeners but ultimately it was not the Scripture he was preaching, but his ideas about various religious subjects. He will tell interesting stories and cite anecdotes telling us “this is what God is like” without ever showing us where the Scriptures teach such things. How many times have you listened to a sermon and when it was over you realized you never again looked down at your Bible?
Instead, the preacher who preaches the Word will have studied the text thoroughly. While he will not try to impress by explaining Greek nouns or Hebrew verbs, he will understand the translation issues and problems so that he can make the text clear to his listeners. He will begin by explaining why it is important that you understand this text and how it intersects with your life. Each point he makes as he works through the text with you will rise from the text and will be exactly the same point Paul, or Peter, or Luke was making. He will illustrate what the text means by explaining how what is taught in the text is worked out in our time, in our lives, and in our culture. He will not simply say at the end of the message, “Here is how this applies folks,” but rather will show how each point the author makes is practical for us now.
When this kind of preaching is enjoyed by a church, listeners leave knowing they have heard from God and are able to report as they talk to others during the following week, “I was helped as a result of attending my church on Sunday.”
Lord, send us a pastor who will preach the Word! Give us the discernment to reject a man who would merely preach about the Word and give us the wisdom to identify and embrace a man who will truly “Preach the Word!”