“We just preach the Word of God.”
“I just preach the Word, and let the chips fall where they will.”
I’ve heard many variants of this statement.
And none of them are true. At least not completely.
Only once have I only preached the word. A group of friends memorized the book of Philippians. In 2001, for my farewell service to the church that had been my home church for nearly a decade and where I had my start in full time ministry, I preached the Word. For 15 minutes, nothing but the word came out of my mouth. I quoted the whole book to my friends at Real Life church. And even then, I didn’t do it in the original Greek.
Every time we stand and expound on the Christian scriptures, we apply. We interpret. We explain.
And we should. We must. My personal opinion is that the examples in scripture are given so that we can find a way to relate to the truth of the exposition. In the same way, explaining and illustrating the scriptures are part of the necessary part of the calling of the preacher.
The better sermons begin in the text and stay close to the text. They don’t have to be expository. They don’t have to be topical. But there should be more than a vague reference to the bible somewhere.
But preachers, let’s not deceive ourselves.
We preach Christ and him crucified. Or we should. But we also expound and explain the word.
Maybe I’m splitting hairs here. There is a certain arrogance that I believe is antithetical to the nature of who God is and whom the man of God (woman of God) is called to be when we claim that we preach the Word and only the word. We try. I’ll give you that.
So stand and thunder from Heaven. But let us do so with humble and broken hearts for the people of God and the things of God. And let us not elevate our teaching and preaching to the level of canon. Let us submit ourselves to one another in love, to our leaders in humility and to the authority of the author of the scriptures.
A friend from an Irish Catholic background came to a personal understanding of his relationship to God. Our community of faith had a small role to play in his spiritual journey. During Ian’s travels in the UK, he came across this old pulpit in an Anglican church. These words were engraved in the lectern.
“Sir, we would see Jesus.”
Those words haunt me as a communicator of the Gospel. I have my axes to grind. I have my hobby horses.
Sir, we would see Jesus.
So in the header of each my sermons go those words. I don’t always succeed. Sometimes I’m a bad copy of Dr. Phil or Ophrah. Other days, I try to channel my inner Finley or other revivalist.
May Christ be exalted in our preaching friends.