- Howard Ens
The Importance of Preaching
If I were to take a long journey and, by unforeseen circumstances, have to leave my family behind, there would, without a doubt, be some anxious thoughts going through my mind. I would make sure that they would be cared for and provided for as best as possible in my absence, making sure everything is taken care of for them before the day comes that I would have to leave. When the day comes for me to leave, I would gather them together to say our farewells. However, just before my departure, I would say what I have most wanted to say to them. I would wait until the end to give them the instructions they would need the most while I am gone. The most important instructions would be reserved for the last moments with them so that first, they wouldn't forget, and secondly, they would understand the final words I say to be most crucial for them to hear and do until I return. Those final words would be the hinge upon which their good, their protection, and their provision – even their survival – would depend.
Similarly, just before Jesus ascended back to heaven, His last important words were for the disciples to go and make disciples of all nations. He promised He would always be with them and would never leave them.
In the Apostle Paul’s letter to his young protégé, Timothy, he not only reserves the most important instructions for the ending of his letter, but he gives him a forward charge.
“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (1 Timothy 4:1-5)
The charge is in the presence of God and of Jesus Christ because Paul wanted Timothy to know that this charge is of utmost importance. Paul wanted Timothy to understand that this charge was to be taken as seriously as if they were in the very presence of God the Father and God the Son.
Paul includes in his charge the fact that Jesus is going to judge the living and the dead, and will appear with his kingdom. The charge is simple, yet profound – it has eternal implications. The charge is related to Jesus Christ judging the living and the dead, but it also has to do with Jesus’ coming kingdom.
“Preach the Word”
A lot depends on the charge to preach the Word, including Jesus’ Kingdom.
Paul writes in Romans 10, “For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? . . . So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:13-17).
Preaching is one of the things necessary for people to be saved, and by becoming saved, they enter Jesus’ Kingdom. Timothy’s charge is to preach the Word, and so the time in the pulpit should be time spent preaching the sacred, inspired Word of God. It should be the main objective of every Bible-believing church. Although the temptations and opportunities to fill Sunday morning service with many other good things is an ongoing reality, the church of our Lord Jesus Christ must never forget its true mandate, “Preach the Word!”
The sermon in most Bible-believing churches has been allotted the most time, yet it remains in a battle over quantity of time. This is not to say that the church should simply fill time with speaking, but let's be honest, for most Christians, their spiritual diet consists of very little Bible other than Sunday morning. Therefore, the time allotted to the sermon should be a healthy amount of time. The time should not only be focused on quantity of time but quality of time, and the preacher should be prepared to expound his text in a clear and concise manner.
Haddon W. Robinson has said that “a sermon should be a bullseye, not a buckshot.” The people should leave church knowing precisely what the sermon was about, and the application should leave an impact on their hearts. Furthermore, all preaching should be Christ-centered and should be evangelical, meaning that the biblical definition of salvation should be included in the sermon. Preachers are mistaken if they assume everyone in the congregation is saved, even if they hear the salvation message which exalts Christ. Paul instructs Timothy to “do the work of an evangelist.” Preaching should include the message of salvation.
Paul instructs Timothy to preach the Word, always be ready to preach the Word, and take advantage of the opportunities he has to preach the Word because the time is coming when people will not endure sound doctrine, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth. We are most definitely living in the time of which Paul told Timothy.
It is a great comfort to know that the gates of hell will not prevail against Christ’s church, and that God will always have a faithful remnant to proclaim the truth of His Word.