Preacher, Put Your Hand to the Plow

It will take diligent effort by the preacher, in Sunday preaching as well as great effort throughout the week, to overcome Satan's tare sowing.

Hugh Latimer, the papist turned Reformed preacher in England in the 16th century, who was burned at the stake by Queen Mary for his preaching, made this point regarding the hard work of preaching vividly. His most famous sermon is known as “Sermon of the Plough“, where he called men to work strenuously in their preaching ministry by reminding them of the most active preacher.

 

One of the misconceptions I encounter with beginning preachers is over what is involved with preaching. Many seminarians simply think of preaching is what the pastor does when he goes behind the pulpit on Sunday morning (and perhaps evening). Though Lord’s Day preaching to the gathered assembly of the congregation for worship is primary – central to the life of the church – the ministry of preaching involves so much more than this weekly feeding of the sheep. Preaching is a lot more work than that!

For in the life and ministry of Jesus, we see that his and the apostles’ preaching was extensive. He did preach in gathered assemblies. “He said to them, ‘I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.’ And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea” (Luke 4:43-44). But he also preached openly throughout the land of Judea. Additionally, he sent the apostles out to preach widely. “They departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere” (Luke 9:6).

This type of ministry continued, spread beyond Judea, and intensified in communities after Pentecost. Luke, speaking of the apostles, said after they were persecuted that in Jerusalem “every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus” (Acts 5:42). When Paul described his three year ministry in Ephesus to their elders when he met with them on the beach, he said that “I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house” (Acts 20:20), and that “for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears” (Acts 20:31).

Hugh Latimer, the papist turned Reformed preacher in England in the 16th century, who was burned at the stake by Queen Mary for his preaching, made this point regarding the hard work of preaching vividly. His most famous sermon is known as “Sermon of the Plough“, where he called men to work strenuously in their preaching ministry by reminding them of the most active preacher.

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