The Priorities of Preaching

from Dec 07, 2008 Category: Articles

Sometimes it happens that preaching the Word is met with antipathy and resistance. Why? Because “the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword” (Heb. 4:12a). And as the Lord spoke to His prophet Isaiah, “[My Word] will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire” (55:11b). Sometimes this means that God uses the Word to rebuke and correct His people. And it is the preacher who must speak that word and reap the response. Sometimes preachers are ejected and fired. That is simply one of the realities of pulpit ministry.

And it is not just conflict and controversy. Sometimes, preachers experience persecution or even martyrdom. The man who wrote the letter to the Colossians was himself to be a martyr for the faith. In giving his final instructions to Timothy, he speaks of being poured out as a libation. He is ready to be offered as an offering. The sufferings of which he speaks in Colossians 1:24 are going to be realized in a martyrdom that is yet before him. There have been martyrs throughout the history of the church, but the blood of those martyrs has been the seed of the church, nourishing its growth.

Do you not imagine that your preaching priorities would become clear under persecution? After all, if you are forced to meet with your congregation in a catacomb, and if you know that you might be arrested at any time, you are going to weigh every word. There is not going to be any time for pulpit frivolity. There is not going to be any time to promote the next youth program. You are going to be concerned with getting down to the reality of the eternal Word of God.

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Quoted in Feed My Sheep: A Passionate Plea for Preaching. 2nd edition, 2008 by Reformation Trust Publishing, an imprint of Ligonier Ministries. Available here.