The preacher that “depends upon what he reads in the newspapers for his message on Sunday” (69), making comments on political matters or anything he likes is a topical preacher. Similarly, a therapeutic preacher’s primary goal or focus is to make the people feel happy and positive about their lives. Both are prime examples of what our content and motives should not be. Then what is our message? What should be the content of your sermon on Sunday morning?
“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” (2 Tim 4:1-4).
Pastors, your charge today is the same charge that God gave to Timothy in his day. God’s truth does not change. There are no new heresies, and non-theological preaching still seeps into our churches. We must never forget what true preaching (κηρύσσω) is and what it does. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones has been such a great help to many pastors throughout the years. His insight on the nature of preaching brings great clarity to the matters of our own day.
According to Lloyd-Jones, the “work of preaching is the highest and the greatest and the most glorious calling to which anyone can ever be called” (Preaching and Preachers, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011, 17). If this is true, why isn’t preaching the element of primary importance in many of our churches’ Sabbath services? I suggest that it is because many do not understand the nature or the goal of preaching. When preaching is less than what God intended it to be, churches degenerate from the body of Christ into an organization or a social club. This was a problem in Lloyd-Jones’ day, and it most definitely is a problem today.
Preaching is the primary task of the church of God. We are to be men who preach the Word and long for the opportunity to listen to the Word preached. Preaching should not be secondary in our Sabbath Worship to God. We are set apart, “devoting ourselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word,” (Acts 6:4). The church is the pillar and ground of truth (1 Tim 3:15). Therefore, there is no substitute for the true, biblical, theological, authoritative, and Spirit-filled preaching of the whole counsel of God.
According to Lloyd-Jones, the man of God must faithfully preach in the pulpit during Sabbath Worship. He is “there to deliver the message of God, a message from God to those people. In the language of Paul, he is ‘an ambassador for Christ.’ That is what he is. He has been sent, he is a commissioned person, and he is standing there as the mouthpiece of God and of Christ to address these people” (64).