Preaching


Who is to preach the Gospel? Is it the one who gets paid to preach the Gospel? Is it the one that is ordained and holds an office that some call Minister of the Word and others call Teaching Elder?

Can un-ordained men preach? How about women? How about 5 year olds or teenagers?

The answer, of course, is no and yes.

Does that sound like a postmodern answer to you? Well, it is quite ancient:

Acts 8:4-5 Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached to them the Christ.

Verse 4 says that those who were scattered were preaching the word. Our English translation for preach is from the Greek word which means ‘spreading the good news’ or ‘gossiping the Gospel’. This is the duty of all whose hearts have been changed by the Lord Jesus Christ. A converted heart overflows with the love of God and there is a desire to ‘preach’ Christ to all who are around. This means that the un-ordained layman, the old church lady, the little kids, the teens…. all who have been redeemed have this obligation to preach, or gossip the good news of Jesus Christ and his death for sinners.

Verse 5 is a different story. This verse uses a different word for preach. The word is the same word as ‘herald’. In verse 5 we see Philip preaching the Gospel in a commissioned, ordained, set apart for public ministry way. This is heralding of the good news that Jesus Christ died for sinners! All who are ordained to the task of Minister of the Gospel, or Teaching Elder, has this responsibility. Preach Christ crucified!

Remember though. None of us are off the hook. We are all verse 4 preachers or verse 5 preachers! Now preach Christ to those who are lost.

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Professor R Scott Clark has written an article on how to evaluate which denomination to serve in. Since I have friends who are planning on serving in numerous denominations, I think that honest discussion like Prof. Clark is exhibiting, is quite helpful for building up of the greater church. I have not digested all of what he is saying, and of course, there are areas in which I disagree with him, but overall, it is quite helpful for those who want to enter seminary but are not sure where the Lord is calling him. Read it here.

Acts 17:5-7 But the Jews were jealous, and taking some wicked men of the rabble, they formed a mob, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the crowd. And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.”

The book of Acts deals with the work of the early church in spreading the Gospel from Jerusalem to ‘all the ends of the world’. It is amazing that God chose these men, who in the Gospels, were so foolish and narrow-visioned at times. God used men who were prideful, self-centered, unfaithful (at times), and bigoted to ‘turn the world upside down’!

This should give aspiring Gospel preachers hope. The Gospels’ description of the disciples should be a mirror into our own lack of personal ability (but with Him, all things are possible). We also need to remember that the disciples became the Apostles. The old cliche is that God equips the called, not calls the equipped. He will prepare and secure the needed gifts and abilities. The world still has plenty of places that need to be ‘turned upside down’ for the sake of Christ and his Gospel. Proclaim to the world that there is another king- Jesus Christ! This is our calling.

For my Preaching Practicum class I have been assigned Joshua 241.14-15 (and my pastor is the one who assigns the texts). While meditating on the text the issue of social covenanting came up quite a bit. Through-out Scripture we see the people of God covenanting back to him in response to his love and redemption.

Joshua 24:14-15 Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. 15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

I have talked about this ordinance with a number of friends (even at the Sabbath evening discussions at my house, the issue was brought up.) One of my friends pointed me to the famous Associate Presbyterian, Fisher’s Catechism, which speaks of the issue. Here is what Fisher said:

Q. 61. What is a social vow?

A. It is the joint concurrence of several individuals in the same exercise as in a personal one, openly avouching the Lord to be their God, Deut. 26:17; where Moses, speaking of all Israel, says, “Thou hast avouched the Lord this day to be thy God, to walk in his ways,” &c.

Q. 62. When doth such a social vow commonly get the name of a NATIONAL COVENANT?

A. When the representatives of a nation, or the better part of them, concur in a covenant of duties, as ingrafted upon the covenant of grace, Jer. 50:4, 5 — “The children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, — saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten.” See also Neh. 9:33, and 10:1, 30.

Q. 63. How do you prove that national covenanting is a warrantable duty under the New Testament?

A. From its being promised in the Old Testament that this shall be a duty performed under the New, Isa. 19:21 — “The Egyptians shall know the Lord in that day, and — they shall vow a vow unto the Lord, and shall perform it.” Besides, if it was a moral duty upon special occasions, under the Old Testament (as appears from 2 Chron 15:12, and 34:31, 32; Neh. 9:38), it must remain to be the same, upon the like occasions, still; because Christ came not to destroy the law or the prophets, but to fulfil them, Matt 5:17.

Q. 64. Is our obligation to moral duties increased, by our vowing or engaging to perform them?

A. Although it is impossible that our obligation to moral duty can he increased by any deed of ours, beyond what it is already by the law of God, which is of the highest authority; yet by reason of our own voluntary and superadded engagement, this obligation from the law may make a deeper impression than before, Psalm 44:17, 18, and our sins receive a higher aggravation, if we either omit the duty engaged to, or commit the evil opposite to it, Deut. 23:21, 22.

What are your thoughts on the idea of a nation being covenanted to God? What would be an equivalent in the Dutch Reformed tradition? Is there a way that the people of God could covenant to God in a country that does not allow for an established church?

This week our congregation should have elections for ruling elders. I say should, because we were snowed out on Wednesday. That gave us a few extra days for prayer and searching the Scriptures.

Here are the Vows that a ruling elder must take in the RP Church:

1. Do you believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, and the only infallible rule of faith and life?

2. Do you believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the only Redeemer of men, and do you confess Him publicly as your Saviour and Lord?

3. Do you believe that it is the duty of Christians to profess publicly the content of faith as it applies to the particular needs of each age and situation, and that such public profession, otherwise called covenanting, should be made formally by the churches and other institutions as well as informally by each believer according to his ability?

4. Do you believe in and accept the system of doctrine and the manner of worship set forth in the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Larger and Shorter Catechisms, and the Testimony of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, as being agreeable to, and founded upon, the Scriptures?

5. Do you believe it to be the teaching of Scripture—that church and state are distinct and separate institutions; that both are under the mediatorial rule of the Lord Jesus Christ; and that the permanent form of church government is presbyterian?

6. Do you believe that Jesus Christ is Saviour and Lord of men and nations, and that in loyalty and obedience to Him, it is our duty to follow the noble example of the faithful confessors and martyrs of Jesus in their witness for divine truth, and in their sacrifices and labors to establish the Kingdom of God on earth?

7. So far as you can know in your own heart, is it the call of Christ, the glory of God and the welfare of the church, and not any selfish object, that moves you to undertake this sacred office?

8. That you may perform faithfully all the duties of the office to which you have been called, do you engage to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit? Do you promise, in His strength, to live a holy and exemplary life, to study and promote the purity, peace, unity and progress of the church—to watch over the spiritual growth of the members of the congregation, to endeavor to win others to Christ, to visit the afflicted and to attend the meetings associated with your office?

9. Do you promise subjection in the Lord to the courts of this church, and engage to follow no divisive courses from the doctrine and order which the church has solemnly recognized and adopted; and do you promise to submit to all the brotherly counsel which your brethren may tender you in the Lord?

And, for the itinerant preacher part: I am preaching at the RPCNA in Atlanta, GA this Lord’s Day. Please pray for me and my family.

Douglas Wilson frequently has good thoughts. They are not always well received, but some of his thoughts are filled with biblical wisdom. Here is one thought on the way in which the preacher is to approach his pulpit:

True masculinity is submissive. Right, submissive. Effeminacy in the pulpit is disobedient and rebellious. God tells the preacher to go and speak as the very oracles of God (1 Pet. 4:11). He might not feel like it. He worries that people will think he is getting above himself. He wonders if he is really called to the ministry. When tackling any lofty scriptural subject, far above him, he is frequently as disappointed with his performance as the farmer’s wife was when she asked the sow to fold the linen. But how he feels does not matter. He is told what to do, and he is under authority. “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”

Anyone who is a Christian must sit under the foolishness of preaching. It is God’s ordinary way to lead men and women to Christ; as well as God’s normal way of sanctifying them. Here is the help that the Westminster Divines give for listening to sermons. There is also a survey that would be helpful to fill out about your sermon listening practices.

Q160: What is required of those that hear the word preached? A160: It is required of those that hear the word preached, that they attend upon it with diligence,[1] preparation,[2] and prayer;[3] examine: What they hear by the scriptures;[4] receive the truth with faith,[5] love,[6] meekness,[7] and readiness of mind,[8] as the word of God;[9] meditate,[10] and confer of it;[11] hide it in their hearts,[12] and bring forth the fruit of it in their lives.[13] 1. Prov. 8:34; 2. I Peter 2:1-2; Luke 8:18; 3. Psa. 119:18; Eph. 6:18-19; 4. Acts 17:11; 5. Heb. 4:2; 6. II Thess 2:10; 7. James 1:21; 8. Acts 17:11; 9. I Thess 2:13; 10. Luke 9:44; Heb. 2:1; 11. Luke 24:14; Deut 6:6-7; 12. Prov. 2:1; Psa. 119:11; 13. Luke 8:15; James 1:25

Survey for sermon listeners.

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