HAS PREACHING PAST ITS PRIME

by Kevin V. Rutherford

 

A friend of’ mine once told me he believed preaching was no longer effective.  He believed preaching should be replaced in worship services.  My friend suggested preaching will not save men.  He is not the only one to have said preaching is past its prime.  Many would like to see preaching in the worship service replaced with drama or some other type of entertainment.  Has preaching past its prime?

Let us not forget that Jesus proclaimed the will of His father through preaching (Matthew 4:23).  Jesus believed that preaching was an excellent method of passing on spiritual information.  The early church believed preaching was important also. They went everywhere preaching the Word (Acts 8:4).  They did this because Jesus told them to (Mark 16:15).  Preaching was also an important part of first century worship (Acts 20:7).  If the approved acts of worship contained within the New Testament are not a guide for worship today, then what is?  To use anything else as a guide is to supplant the Word of God as our standard of authority. Preaching was important in the first century and it should be important today.

The apostle Paul emphasized the importance of preaching in 1 Corinthians 1:18-25.  Those who are opposed to the preaching of the Gospel believe themselves to be wise.  This is the wisdom of the world and not of God. God has chosen preaching as the means by which the Gospel is to be taken to the whole world. Paul wrote, “Where is the wise?  Where is the scribe?  Where is the disputer of this age?  Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?  For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe (1 Corinthians 1:20, 21).”

Perhaps some might suggest that preaching is past its prime because so many today do not understand what true preaching is.  Many preachers have turned themselves into a combination of game show host and stand up comedian.  They pull and tug at the heartstrings of individuals with sermons soaked in sappy stories.  The illustration has become the sermon for so many. This kind of preaching will draw larger crowds, but it will not save souls.  This is not at all the approach Paul used when he preached. The Bible says he reasoned with people from the Scriptures (Acts 17:1-4).

The Scriptures must be the foundation of every sermon (1 Peter 4:11). The power to save men is in the Scriptures (Romans 1:16).  Therefore, it is the Scriptures that must be preached.  After all, it is the Word of God that has the power to penetrate the heart like a two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). Illustrations have their place, but they must not become the whole of the sermon. The sermon must be based on Scripture and filled with Scripture.  A sermon built upon any other foundation is a sermon sifting on sand.  It will have no eternal value.

When sermons are built upon and around the Word of God, they will please God. Seeking to please God rather than men is what we must do (Galatians 1:10).  Sermons founded squarely upon the Bible present truths that never fade in importance or relevance (Psalm 119:89).  God said, “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it (Isaiah 55:11).”

In Jeremiah’s day the preachers had “become wind” because they preached the lies people wanted to hear (Jeremiah 5:12).  That kind of preaching is never relevant and always corrupting in influence.  We need preachers today who will proclaim the Word of God with all boldness as did Jeremiah.  Jeremiah urged the people to “seek the old paths (Jeremiah 6:16),” he rebuked the religious leaders of his day (Jeremiah 6:13-15), and he was not afraid to ref false doctrine (Jeremiah 7:4).  Furthermore, Jeremiah’s sermons were filled with a “thus saith the Lord (Jeremiah 5:14).”  This is true preaching, and this is powerful preaching.  This is the kind of preaching that is always relevant.

True Gospel sermons will never fade in importance.  The proclamation of the Gospel of Christ through preaching has not past its prime.  In fact, the preaching of the powerful Gospel is as important now as it has ever been.  It is sound preaching that will save the souls of many.  Preaching is precisely what is needed today.