Preaching is a divine calling and a necessary office in the church, regardless of the many greedy and ungodly preachers who fill that office today. In God’s wisdom, only the “foolishness” of preaching “saves those who believe” (1 Corinthians 1:21). Saving faith in Jesus Christ comes only by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). This hearing requires a preacher (10:14)!
Yes, the Bible is the Word of God. But it also contains a historical record of preaching that Word. Noah was the world’s first “preacher of righteousness” and he was saved from the flood with his family (2 Peter 2:5). Many Old Testament judges, prophets, priests, and kings were also preachers. They declared the Word of God with boldness. Jesus and his disciples preached to anyone who would listen. Those who refused to hear the Word were condemned to hell (Matthew 10:14-15).
The Great Commission commands us to “preach the gospel” (Mark 16:15; cf Luke 24:47). Peter preached on the Day of Pentecost and 3000 were saved (Acts 2:41). After releasing the apostles from prison, an angel told them to “speak to the people all the words of this life” (5:20). Paul and Silas “turned the world upside down” with their preaching (17:6). Martin Luther, William Tyndale, John Wesley, George Whitefield, D. L. Moody, and others are considered “world changers.” They were also preachers.
The world is different today. People don’t preach in courthouse squares and on street corners like they used to. Those who try are arrested. People don’t preach in churches like they used to either – in the power of the Holy Spirit and drenched in holy sweat. My prayer for many young people today is that they preach the Word with fire, sweating until they drop.
As in the days of Noah, this sinful world refuses to hear and obey the Word of God. Sadly, so does the church. I wince whenever Christians publicly disdain preaching; I know that they’re disdaining God. When I checked synonyms for ‘shun’ while writing this article, I started crying. Avoid, ignore, shirk, spurn, reject, and recoil: this is a typical Christian reaction to the word “preach.” The church today is more like unbelieving Israel than the apostles and prophets. No wonder people refuse “sound doctrine” and find false teachers for their “itching ears” (2 Timothy 4:3)! God wants his people to receive his Word like rain and dew, but they refuse (Deuteronomy 32:2). Recoiling from the Word should be the mark of sinners, not Christians. What’s happened?
After ancient Israel turned away from God, he embraced the Gentiles (Romans 10:20-21). If nothing else, he wanted to make the Jews jealous (10:19, 11:11; Deuteronomy 32:21). After the Pharisees turned away from Jesus, he embraced “publicans and sinners” while making preachers of fishermen (Matthew 4:18-19, 9:10-11, 11:19). George Whitefield (1714-1770) preached in the fields because apostate Episcopal churches turned him away. Even now, persecuted Christians in China cry and kiss their first Bibles while Western Christians ignore them. If end-times revivals repeat history, then public sinners will embrace Jesus while the church refuses him.
The bride that Jesus Christ is returning to earth for will not shun or disdain preaching, like so many people in the church today. Instead, she will hearken to the voice of her beloved (Song of Solomon 2:8, 5:2). This bride will also love the kisses of his mouth – the Word (1:2). I pray that future revivals return to sound biblical preaching. I also pray that people love and hunger for the Word, whether it’s prayed, written, preached, or sung. If this doesn’t happen, we’re doomed.