The Lost Art of Preaching the Word
by Norman Crawford
The three words of 2 Timothy 2:2, “Preach the Word”. are among the most important that ever came from the pen of Paul. This is the vocation of evangelists, the stewardship of assemblies and the personal responsibility of all believers that by life and word, we preach Christ.
Many evangelicals publish slogans that are based on biblical revelation, but God has taught us that the actual words of Scripture are God-breathed and they alone are living and powerful (Heb 4:12). The Lord Jesus spoke “the words of God” (John 3:34). He said, “The words that I speak … they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:68). He said to the Father, “I have given them the words which Thou gavest Me” (John 17:8). The final warning of the Bible is against “taking away from the words of the book” (Rev 22:19). These and many other verses stress the preaching of the actual words of Scripture. “From you sounded out (preached) the Word of the Lord” (1 Thess 1:8). This is in contrast to the words of men.
There is temptation in preaching to resort to philosophical reasoning, sociological principles or psychological counselling, but this is not preaching the Word. Human logic and reason will not bring a sinner to Christ. The fourth law of logic is the law of sufficient reason. Is there sufficient reason why God should love sinners? We cannot even understand the Godhead by human reason. The end result of human reasoning is to dismiss God from His. own universe and replace Him with the pride of human knowledge and temporal wisdom. Against all of this Paul wrote, “We determined to know nothing among you save Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor 2:2). Let us take to heart his words, “My speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Cor 2:4).
If an appeal is made that Paul “reasoned” with the Jews in Thessalonica, let us remember that “he reasoned with them out of the Scriptures” (Acts 17:2).
To get the ear of the Athenians, Paul quoted from their philosophers, Aratus and Epimenides, but very quickly, he “preached Jesus and the resurrection”. In speaking to children there is a danger of being heavy on the attention-getting mechanism and light on the gospel. This is not preaching the Word.
An attention-getting device can be profitable on a street comer, but the great danger is to substitute anything for the preached Word of God.
Illustrations are like windows that let in the light. No message should be constructed only of windows. Emotional stories of human tragedy are not substitutes for the conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit.
Because God is Sovereign in all His works, He may use whatever He pleases. I am a subject and a servant under orders. The pattern is, “We preach Christ crucified.” The imperative is, “Preach the Word.”