“And we will never stop thanking God that when we preached his message to you, you didn’t think of the words we spoke as being just our own. You accepted what we said as the very word of God—which, of course, it was. And this word continues to work in you who believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13 NLT).
Preaching, at its best, is the heralding of God’s own words. But preaching can quickly degenerate into the airing of human opinion. Often there is a vast difference between the ideal and the reality of preaching.
God’s words or human opinion?
Human philosophy or God’s wisdom?
The ideal picture of what preaching ought to be is captured by a line from the Old Testament. “They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was being read” (Nehemiah 8:8). Preaching opens up the meaning of God’s message in a way that people can hear the message and translate it into life.
Paul was grateful for the way the people at Thessalonica received the preaching. They understood the sermon was not a venting of human thought originating with Paul. They received it as a message from God – “the very word of God.”
Do we believe preaching the Bible is the speaking of God’s word?
Such a belief has a tremendous impact on the preacher writing his sermons. Will God’s meaning be read out of the scripture rather than his opinion being read into the text? Will God be the focus of the message or will his personality get in the way? Will hearers be touched by what God is saying or impressed by the preacher’s technique or style? How can the preacher shine the light on God and not cast a shadow over the Word?
Such a belief has equal impact on the Christian receiving the sermon. What a difference it makes to believe the Bible is really God’s word! You can’t get enough of reading the words from God. Every word heard is savored. Anything less than God’s word will not be filling. The sermon is not merely tolerated; it is received, accepted as God’s word. Worship arises as we subject ourselves to God, asking Him to guide us through His word. The word, when accepted into the mind and heart, begins to work. Life changes take place. God is honored.
May those who preach proclaim God’s very word. May those who listen accept the message from God. May all allow the word to continue to work in our lives.