The Elements of Public Worship – III
The Sound Preaching of the Word
“Wherefore when this Word of God is now preached in the church by preachers lawfully called, we believe that the very Word of God is proclaimed, and received by the faithful; and that neither any other Word of God is to be invented nor is to be expected from heaven: and that now the Word itself which is preached is to be regarded, not the minister that preaches; for even if he be evil and a sinner, nevertheless the Word of God remains still true and good.” – The Second Helvetic Confession, Chapter 1
The preaching of the word of God is without a doubt the most important part of our Worship. This is the means that God has ordained for His Church to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ in every age (Mark 16:15, Acts 10:42, 2 Timothy 4:2). In Preaching, God’s whole counsel unto mankind is proclaimed, and the way of salvation in Jesus Christ is made clear. The purpose of preaching is that God might be glorified, the lost might be converted, and the people of God might be edified and built up in the faith. Therefore, it is necessary that regardless of what part of Scripture we are preaching from, that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is clearly proclaimed and that faith in him is solicited. This is because all of Scripture speaks of Jesus either as the coming Messiah, or the risen Redeemer, as He Himself told us (Luke 24:27).
We are often told today that preaching should be uniformly positive, and not mention “negative” subjects like sin and damnation, but good preaching has ever contained a balance of law and gospel – it convicts men of their sin and shows them that Christ is the only way to salvation. We see examples of this balance in every example of Apostolic preaching recorded for us in the bible, and we see it also in the historic fact that every great revival in church history has featured preaching that exposed men’s sins and their perilous condition, and called upon them to flee to Christ alone for Justification. William Tyndale’s exhortation to a fellow minister on how to preach the Gospel is just as relevant as ever:
“Expound the law truly, and open the veil of Moses, to condemn all flesh, and prove all men sinners, and all deeds under the law, before mercy have taken away the condemnation thereof, to be sin, and damnable; and then as a faithful minister, set abroach the mercy of our Lord Jesus, and let the wounded consciences drink of the water of him. And then shall your preaching be with power, and not as the hypocrites. And the Spirit of God shall work with you; and all consciences shall bear record unto you, and feel that it is so. And all doctrine that casteth a mist on these two, to shadow and hide them, I mean the law of God, and mercy of Christ, that resist you with all your power.”
While our preaching may be expository or topical, we must keep in mind the need to preach “the whole counsel of God” rather than simply a few favorite subjects drawn from a limited selection of books. One PCA minister did a private survey that determined that most PCA pastors were most likely to preach from Romans, John, or Genesis. While these are excellent books for preaching, they hardly constitute “the whole counsel“.
So in summary in keeping with the scriptural model, the preaching of OSP churches should be:
* Biblically Sound (Titus 2:1)
* Diligent (Acts 18:25)
* Faithful (1 Cor. 4:2)
* Complete (Acts 20:27)
* Powerful (1 Cor. 2:4)
* Clear and easy to understand (1 Cor. 3:2)
and above all filled with fervent love towards Christ!