Looking to Jesus

Preaching is a Holy and Shared Privilege

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The Apostle Paul famously declared “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Corinthians‬ ‭9:16‬). He was touching on the heart cry of everyone called to preach the Gospel, not only to their own hearts, but in their homes, the household of God, and to any group in any hemisphere God sends them. He was merely expressing as clearly as he could how pressing and important, how utterly necessary and crucial preaching really is. Those who devalue it do not understand the Biblical prominence God gives it. To be sure, there are many who speak empty words into the air, or do not practice what they preach, or beat peple down with the Bible as a club, or twist the very Scriptures they are called to uphold and handle accurately. These are sadly all too common, but they are not reasons to downplay preaching. On the contrary, we are to uphold it and lift up the faithful handling and bold proclamation of the full counsel of God as the panacea for a myriad of spiritual ills.

Preaching God's Word is a holy privilege, a truly weighty calling. Why else would the Holy Spirit have Paul put such a mantle of responsibility upon his protege Timothy? “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (2 Timothy‬ ‭4:1-5‬). In God's economy there is only one thing that will right the wrongs perpetrated by itching heretical ears: The Word of God rightly handled and rigorously preached. Only one thing will set us on the course of spiritual health versus the spiritual derangement caused by words that eat away life like gangrene: The right handling of the Word of God (2 Tim. 2:15). Preaching is granted, commanded, and empowered by God. This holy privilege is to be discharged joyfully, in the Lord's strength.

Preaching is also a shared privilege. We do not do it alone anymore than we breathe alone or live with a beating heart alone. We live through God's continued sustaining of our lives. “For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's.” (Romans‬ ‭14:7-8‬) And we preach with God's Spirit gifting, enabling, and sending us out. “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?" So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans‬ ‭10:14-17‬) And we preach with the support and encouragement of our Holy Spirit-indwelt brothers and sisters in Christ. Paul telling Timothy to "Preach the Word" (2 Tim. 4:2); telling the Corinthians, "so we preach and so you believed" (1 Cor. 15:11); and the Colossians, "We proclaim Him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom" (Col. 1:28). And finally, God Himself is doing the preaching through us, as Paul said, "we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God" (2 Cor. 5:20).

What are we to make of this holy and shared privilege? We are to give ourselves to God and it wholeheartedly, shunning all temptations to nullify the grace of God, weaken the message, or water down the truth. We must walk closely with Jesus in full dependence, seeking to know God and please Him. We are to lovingly and patiently encourage and correct, pointing people to the doing of God's commanded will. We are to bring the Word, calling everyone to repentance, faith, and glad obedience. We are to fiercely hold to the Word of truth and humbly give what spiritual bread God gives us to all the hungry, starving, malnourished people we come in contact with. Those with open hearts and ears will heed the warnings, cling to the life-giving truths, and find comfort in the solace of a sovereign God who opens hearts to the Gospel and is pleased to dwell in all who believe, for eternity, for the glory and praise of God.

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