preach

A Theology of Preaching

(This is Part 1 of a 4-Part Series on A Theology of Preaching)

Preaching is the heart of a preacher’s ministry. Hours are invested in the study each week. Numerous people will be sitting in the audience to hear the preacher give a word from God. Believers need edification. Non-believers need the gospel. Decisions of life or death, heaven or hell will be made. And all of this will begin with the preacher and his thirty minute sermon. Thus, the importance of a clear and proper theology of preaching is paramount. So much to do in so short of a time. And the theology of the preacher plays a critical role. Why do preachers preach? What do they preach? And how do they preach? Each of these will be answered in turn.

Why Do We Preach?

We preach because God chooses to speak, inspires the Scripture, and commissions His servants.

First, God chooses to speak. The truth that undergirds any preaching ministry should be the fact that God speaks. Al Mohler writes, “True preaching begins with this confession: we preach because God has spoken. That fundamental conviction is the fulcrum of the Christian faith and of Christian preaching.”[1] A careful study of Scripture proves that the God of the Bible is a God who speaks.[2] Peter Adams correctly asserts, “Without God’s words there can be no ministry of the Word. If God is dumb, we may speak, but we cannot speak God’s words, for there are none to speak. The first great theological foundation for preaching, then, is that God has spoken.”[3]

The Scriptures attest to the reality that God has spoken. The very creation of the world in Genesis 1 occurs through God’s spoken word. The writer of Hebrews testifies to a speaking God when he writes, “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world” (Heb 1:1–2, [NASB]). Not only did God speak in the creation account, but the author attests that God has spoken through Jesus as well. This reality of God speaking then transfers to modern man through the Scriptures.

Second, God inspires the Scriptures. Not only did God speak, but He inspired the human authors of the Scriptures to record his words. The result is that we have an inspired text that is both authoritative and trustworthy. Thus, we preach the Bible. Jason Meyer writes, “The Scriptures attest to the specificity not only of God’s spoken words, but also of his written words. God’s prior spoken words are written with God’s authorization as specific words in a specific form.”[4]

The Scriptures support a high view of the inspiration of Scripture. Exodus 24:4 notes that “Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord.” God also instructed Isaiah to record these writings when he says, “Now go, write it on a tablet before them and inscribe it on a scroll, that it may serve in the time to come as a witness forever” (Isa 30:8). And Jesus taught that not one letter or stroke of Scripture would pass until all of it was accomplished (Matt 5:18). These words of Scripture are not the words of human wisdom, rather they are the words taught by the Spirit (1 Cor 2:13). Peter concurs when he writes, “So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:19–21). And the Apostle Paul climaxes with his classic statement on the inspiration of the Bible in 2 Tim 3:16–17: “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”

Third, God commissions his servants. Because God speaks and because God inspires the Scriptures which contain his words, God has commissioned his servants to go and preach that word! Adam agrees when he writes, “Preaching depends not only on having a God-given source, the Bible, but also a God-given commission to preach, teach and explain it to people and to encourage and urge them to respond.”[5] Isaiah is called to speak on behalf of God (Isa 6:8–13). Jesus commanded it as part of the Great Commission (Matt 28:19–20). And Paul exhorts Timothy to “Preach the Word” (2 Tim 4:2).

We preach because God chooses to speak, inspires the Scripture, and commissions His servants.
This is the motivation for the task.

[1] R. Albert Mohler Jr., “A Theology of Preaching,” in Handbook of Contemporary Preaching (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1992), 14.
[2] Peter Adam, Speaking God’s Words: A Practical Theology of Preaching (Vancouver, British Columbia: Regent College Publishing, 2004), 15.
[3] Adam, Speaking God’s Words, 25.
[4] Meyer, Preaching, 276.
[5] Adam, Speaking God’s Word, 37.