Preaching of the Word

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The talk about God is the focus of the Christian proclamation.  We declare what God says and we are thus witnesses to His majesty.  We are all fallen, lost and depraved so we are blinded from the things of God.  This is the truth of our state of affairs.  We so easily forget about God and tend to say strange things that have nothing to do with Him at all.  What we do say is a result of the grace of God in spite of our rebellion and sin.  This is not just the state of the world but also includes the state of the church who share in the general state of affairs of the human race at large.  However, the hope of the gospel which God has given by His mercy to all people shows itself more explicitly in the church than in the world.  The world resists the gospel while the church participates in it and are willing to reciprocate what God is already giving.  The church should freely give as much as it has freely received.

The church should be the distinction between those who have received and those who are not willing to receive what God has already given.  The church says, ‘Yes,’ to God’s Yes while the world says, ‘No,’ to God’s Yes.  It is God who awakens men and women and gathers them into one place into the visible church.   We are all here purely by the work of His hands.  It is not because people have been converted by the church or is the result of some personal decision at some point that has brought people into the church.  Rather, it is the personal decision of God in Jesus Christ for humanity that needs to be taught as commanded by the Lord where we are to make followers of the nations and we teach them to conform to His likeness as sons and daughters of God.  Jesus Christ shows us the heart of the Father whereby we have clarity on what God is really like.  When we see what God is really like, then we begin to understand what it really means to be human.

Theology is not what we proclaim.  It is what goes on behind the scenes.  What goes on out in the field is the proclamation of Jesus Christ.  The study of what we proclaim is behind the scenes.  The gospel comes first, ie Jesus Christ, and this is followed by theology.  This is not to place more importance on ministry as this is also secondary to Jesus Christ.  On the front line so to speak, we proclaim Christ which does not necessary have to be right theology.  We preach to the best of our ability.  Not all of us are theologians with letters after our name.  We teach others the gospel, baptise them in the name of the Father, Son and Spirit and trust that it is by the Spirit’s power that people will respond to the divine truth, even though we may do so poorly in our transmission.  Sometimes in our delivery, our insecurities can come to the surface and feel as though we are doing such a poor job.  We can feel so foolish and weak at times.  It is even in our weaknesses and our foolishness that the power of the gospel can be at its greatest.  There is no special formula by which God will use whatever we say and turn it into a powerful speech regarding Himself.  There is much mystery in the way God works.  All we can do is agree with what God says about ourselves, personally, and agree with what He says about every other person around us. Theology should at least come to this conclusion: God has nothing but good news for everyone.

God sets the terms and conditions upon how He will be heard and the manner through which He speaks.  He may speak to us within the church community as well as outside what we call the sacred community through some secular way.  He may speak through a pagan, an atheist and even through a Muslim.  If He does, then we listen.  It may not be the norm and it may be that the one who speaks on His behalf may not even be aware that they are speaking in His behalf.  The Christian knows full well that if God can use a donkey then He can use anyone.  However, the task given of proclaiming the gospel to the world has specifically been given to the church.

By whose authority has this proclamation been given?  The authority has been given by God Himself, Jesus Christ, who has commanded us to let Him love us and this we embrace and wholeheartedly accept.  We are commanded to love one another as the fruit of His love towards us.  In turn we become the instruments of His love and preach this gospel of His faithfulness towards us with the hope He has given and proclaim this to the wider community.  We proclaim to all that the way God is, is the way God has shown Himself to us in Jesus Christ.  The way God has shown Himself in Jesus Christ is His loving way and His desire is that we know for ourselves how much we are loved.  It is God who commands and it is to God the church must conform.  The preacher may preach their message and live an exemplary life but he too must point to God as the One whom all must conform.  The world does not have a say in the manner in which the gospel is preached.  Some may hear and respond, others may ignore, and still others maybe invoked and stirred with strong emotions.  Even so, the word must still get out and preaching is the manner in which God has chosen for His Word of truth to be heard.

The Word of Christ is the eternal Word and when we preach we do so as His representative.  He is the Reconciler who has made us ministers of reconciliation.  We preach the Reconciler who has reconciled the world to Himself.  There is no other way we can view any human being but reconciled in Jesus Christ.  We preach what is true and what is real and we declare this past event as the present truth and reality.  We call all people to change the way they think about God and to receive His love as He commands us to.

This may seem straightforward but is it really?  When we think about it, we have to remind ourselves that we must be very humble and realise that it is remarkable that we are able to preach at all.  What we are endeavouring to do is to make fathomable the things of God what is by any right infathomable.  Whatever we are able to deliver to our hearers that is comprehended at any level is purely by the grace of God.  What saves us is we believe God is with us when we have something to say and we totally trust in His promise that He will be with us to very end of the age.  We take a step, open our mouths and speak but we have no real way of knowing that what we speak is the very thing that God wants us to say.  This is why the preaching cannot be done in isolation and apart from the church.  It should be done in the sanctuary of the community of which the believer is a part.  We Jesus spoke and had to give account for what He said and Jesus did not hesitate to give an answer for the things He said.  We too at the very least may need to give an answer for the things we say and may also have to be corrected within the community of believers.  When we speak, it is good to review what we say and leave it open to discussion by those who hear.  At the end of the day, we remind ourselves that we are fallible trying to deliver what is infallible.

At the end of the day, what we deliver to each other in the form of preaching is an act of trust.  We place our trust in Jesus Christ that He is with us and what He has given for us to say is helped by the Spirit for others to hear Him rather than us.  Our fellow believers are testament to the fact that the Spirit is at work and we are the fruit of His work rather than any mission, church, preacher etc.  It is a miracle that can only be God.