Sunday, October 5, 2008

Preach the Word!

"Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine." 2 Timothy 4:2

I absolutely love good preaching! Good, strong, authoritative preaching. And of course to be authoritative, that preaching can be only be of one type; Biblical. If the preaching is not from the Bible, then in my opinion it lacks any authority.

At the very end of what we call the Sermon on the Mount we see something about this authority:

Matthew 7:28,29 "And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes."

Note a couple thing here. Teaching is a part and parcel of preaching, unless we have mislabeled the "Sermon" on the Mount. Jesus taught as one having authority. That is because of who he is. The book of John says that Jesus is the Word. And the Word is God! Jesus preached and taught with authority because he is God. But how can a mere man preach with authority? It's easy if you preach the Bible. The authority comes from the Word of God, not from the eloquence or style of the preacher (if it was the latter I, for one, would never dare set foot behind a pulpit).

Also note that preaching and teaching involves doctrine. That word doctrine isn't one that should scare you away. It simply means a principle or the body of principles in a branch of knowledge or system of belief . That definition comes from Websters. In the case of true Christianity, that would be a principle in a branch of knowledge. The knowledge of the one true God, Yahweh. In the case of all other religions, doctrine would be merely a principle in a system of belief.

If you go back to the very beginning of the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5:1) , you will find that Jesus sat down to teach/preach this message. So why is it customary for a preacher of our day to stand behind a pulpit to teach? If you go to Luke chapter 4, I believe I can give you an answer.

It has been said that it was customary in the Jewish culture of that day that a teacher would sit down to teach. This would seem to be verified by the account of the Sermon on the Mount, as well as here in Luke 4. Beginning in Luke 4:16-17 we see that the Bible says: "And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, .... "

After reading the passage from Isaiah, we find this in verses 20 and 21: "And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears."

Jesus stood up to read from the scriptures. Then he sat down and taught with authority. Now if Jesus stood up to read God's word, would it not be reasonable to emulate him? And since any authority in our preaching/teaching comes directly from God's word, perhaps it is best that we remain standing to remind us to to keep the focus of our preaching on the Bible.

Yes, I do love good preaching. Strong and authoritative. But you know what? The meekest and mildest of preachers can preach in a strong, authoritative way even with a meek and mild delivery. The strength and authority comes from the Word not the preacher!

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