Aug 7, 2020

In Defense of Preaching

Our Daily Bread University offers a free, 20-lesson course by John Stott called Biblical Preaching: A Pastor’s Look at Homiletics. For each lesson you can either listen to the audio of Scott’s lecture or read the transcript, or both.

Stott begins the course with 3 lectures on the topic “The Argument about Preaching.”

In his third lesson he outlines why God’s Word must be preached. The average reader of a post like this might never think to question the validity of preaching. But not everyone shares that viewpoint as Stott details in lessons 1 and 2.

If someone asked you to defend your practice of preaching what would you tell them? Think about that for a second. Why do you preach? What is your basis or rationale? How important and how necessary is it to preach God’s Word?

Having a clear answer to those questions will prepare you to defend the practice of biblical preaching against objectors. But it may also be the very thing you need to sustain you week by week in your ministry of the Word. In the highs and in the lows. When there is apparent success and when there isn’t. Or, to use Paul’s language, “in season and out of season.”

Why preach? Here are the four reasons Stott gives in defense of preaching:

Reason #1: The Word Is God’s Chief Weapon

My first major reason why God’s Word must be preached is because the Word is God’s chief weapon. God’s chief weapon is His Word.

It is God’s chief weapon in combatting our ignorance, fallenness, and blindness. Drawing from 2 Corinthians 4:4-6 Stott summarizes,

There are three actors in the drama of evangelism: There is the devil, there is God, and there is the Christian communicator; and each is given a distinctive activity indicated by a verb. The devil blinds, God shines, and we preach. And God shines through what we preach into the darkened hearts which the devil has blinded. So the gospel preaching is an indispensable activity in the church. I’ll say again, it’s God’s chief weapon.

Reason #2: Preaching Is the Pastor’s Chief Responsibility

The second argument for preaching is because it is the presbyter’s chief responsibility.

See Acts 6:4, 20:28 and Titus 1:9.

Reason #3 Preaching is the Church’s Chief Need.

My third argument for preaching is because it is the congregation’s chief need or, if you like, the church’s chief need. . . . God uses the . . . Word to nourish His people, to edify them, and to build them up into maturity.

See Colossians 1:27-29.

Reason #4 Preaching is the World’s Chief Lack.

The fourth argument for preaching: it is the world’s chief lack. . . . People are woefully ignorant of the biblical gospel even in the Western world, not just in pioneer mission fields. It’s partly—I know that they do not and will not listen—but it’s partly the church’s fault. . . . And it’s in this contemporary confusion in the visible church that biblical Christians are called to speak out with a clear message.

Why is preaching necessary? Stott summarizes his defense of preaching this way:

The preaching of God’s Word is a vital, permanent feature of the church. . . . It is the medium that God has Himself chosen for the salvation of sinners and for the edification of His people; and God has promised to own it and to bless it. And it is a ministry that He still calls His pastors to exercise.

How about you? Are you convinced?

Question: What do you think of Stott’s argumentation in defense of Christian preaching? Is there anything you would add by way of argumentation?

Kerry McGonigal

Kerry McGonigal

Kerry McGonigal is the pastor of Beth Haven Baptist Church in Simpsonville, South Carolina. He has also taught preaching to undergraduates at Bob Jones University since 2003.