Preach the Word
May 14, 2009 · Print This Article
by Pastor David Ferranti
Senior Pastor, Bay Valley Christian Church
As pastors, we need to evaluate the preaching of the Word in our churches. Looking at Paul’s four instructions to Timothy, he says “But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you” (2 Timothy 4:5 NLT). Let’s focus on the last instruction Paul gave Timothy: Fully carry out the ministry God has given you. Across the centuries, a consensus has emerged among theologians that all the vital duties of the pastor(s) of a local church can be reduced to three items: Word, Sacrament, and Discipline. As we focus on the Word, keep in mind a faithful pastor will present God’s Word three ways: explanation, revelation, and the prophetic.
The Explained Word
The first time in scripture that we see a man stand behind a pulpit to read and discuss the Word of God is in Nehemiah 8:1-3. “Now all the people gathered together as one man in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate; and they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded Israel. So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly of men and women and all who could hear with understanding on the first day of the seventh month. Then he read from it in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate from morning until midday, before the men and women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law.” This is amazing to me. Ezra stood from morning until midday reading the Bible and that whole time the people were attentive. Not only that, but the leaders had to send the people away. They didn’t even desire to go! Why? Because the Word was being given with explanation and the people were listening intently. As Dr. Ken Chant author of Building the Church God Wants and pastor in Sydney, Australia says, “The poorest speaker can be lifted to eloquence if he is faced by an enthusiastic and attentive audience. We preachers need to teach our people how to be devout hearers of the Word of God, rather than listening to clever sermons. It is substantially our own fault that the people have “itching ears”, and only want to hear “good” preachers. We have exalted the preacher above the pulpit; the messenger above the message; the worker above the Word. The people must learn, not just to hear a sermon, but to listen for the voice of God.”
The Revealed Word
The second part of the pastor’s duty lies in bringing his people the revealed Word of God. In Ephesians, Paul is praying for the people in the churches he’s founded. He prays “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power” (Ephesians 1:17-19). Paul wanted the people’s spiritual eyes to be opened so that they would not merely have knowledge of God and His Word, but also revelation of them. When we go beyond knowledge of the scriptures into a revelation of them, we understand the power we can operate in and the great calling we have through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Prophetic Word
The last way a faithful pastor presents God’s Word is through the prophetic. In other words, we need to seek God for the strategy He has for our church. One thing is true about the Lord, He seldom repeats a strategy. Therefore what may work for one church may not be the same for another. We must seek God for His fresh strategy for our church. And over time, the strategy may change. Take Israel for example. As they marched through the wilderness toward the Promised Land, they had many battles to fight in order to capture the territory. Before going into each battle, they sought the Lord for His strategy. And when they sought the Lord and followed His plan, they had the victory. It is the same for us. If we will seek the Lord for His plan, we will see the victory in our church and in our community.
In conclusion, I encourage us as the Church to take the Word of God seriously. We need to be a people who are attentive to His word and attentive to His voice.
Reference: Building the Church God Wants by Dr. Ken Chant