What is preaching?

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Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
What is and what is not preaching?


What are the bounds of this defintion?


How does it differ from other forms of telling/expressing the Gospel?

What are the elements that MUST be there for it to be preaching. What elements can be subtract or change based on context or culture?

Who can do it?


When preaching, how is on to preach? Expository? Topical, etc? How did Paul and Peter preach? Was it expositional or topical and can we model their examples or not? Why or why not?


When preaching, how relevant should we try to be and how much should our sermons touch on current events and current trends in our cultures and thoughts?
 

KenPierce

Puritan Board Freshman
Truth set aflame, truth on fire, truth conveyed through personality.
A primary means of God converting and sanctifying his people (How shall they hear without someone preaching...we preach Christ).
The preaching of the Word of God is the Word of God (2d Helvetic)
It is prophetic, it is textual, it is personal, it is applicable.

Random thoughts...
 

KenPierce

Puritan Board Freshman
Paul says about preaching: Eph 4:21 --wrongly translated (except NAS): surely you have heard of (or about) him. JR de Witt used to point out often, it really says, "Surely you have heard HIM!" God's own voice thunders, whispers, and pleads in faithful preaching.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
See Stuart Olyott's book Preaching - Pure and Simple. The main points of this are summarized in my book The Regulative Principle of Worship: Explained and Applied. Mr. Olyott does a great job of showing what preaching is by his study in the Greek words used for preaching.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
In fact here is my review of Stuart Olyott's book:

Stuart Olyott is some bloke, not only does he preach Biblically accurate, heart-searching sermons, he also writes books about how to preach them. While those of us who do not aspire to the ministerial office may question the point of reading a book on preaching, we should remember that the preaching of the word occupies the central place in both New Testament and historic Protestant worship; and for this reason it is absolutely requisite that those of us who adhere to the regulative principle of worship correctly understand the place of preaching in worship. Mr. Olyott helps us in this respect in part one of the book where he examines precisely what preaching is. By focusing on the four Greek words used for preaching in the New Testament (kerusso, euangelizo, martureo, and didasko) the author explains that preaching must always include: declaring the King’s message exactly (kerusso), bringing good news (euangelizo), bearing witness to the facts (martureo), and spelling out in concrete terms what the message means as far as living is concerned (didasko). In order for a minister’s sermon to preaching (in the Biblical sense), then it must contain all of the above. This means that there is not one form of preaching to the saved in the morning, and then another for the unsaved in the evening; all sermons, whether preached to the saved or lost, must contain all four of these elements.

In part two the author then examines what makes good preaching. Firstly, exegetical accuracy is vital to preaching. One of the things I loathe most is when some clown (I will not give him the dignity of the title ‘minister’) dares to get into a pulpit and deliberately lifts verses of Scripture out of context to speak, not preach, on whatever he wants - regardless of whether or not it is coming out of the text. Thankfully, for the four years that I have been in the Reformed Presbyterians I have never heard a minister do this; and long may it continue. Such a man, when he does this, is little better than a liberal; because what is the point of believing that the inspiration of Scripture extends to each and every word, if he can profanely lift these words out of their context and use them as a springboard for whatever he likes. Consequently, the preacher needs to consider the wider and narrower context in which a particular text appears, and to consider what it meant to the original writer and audience. If a minister doesn’t do this then he can get the Bible to say whatever he wants, because as Don Carson once put it ‘a text without a context is a pretext for a proof text.’ Obviously preaching which lacks doctrinal substance is certainly unedifying; one wonders how a man can claim to be preaching the Bible and yet try not to be too doctrinal?

Other important factors in good preaching include a clear structure, the author favours the three point system - which I believe is to be preferred to the Puritan method of having hundreds of points, sub-points, and sub-sub-points - accompanied with suitable and useful illustrations to assist the memories of the congregation. Pointed application (not ignorant or ranting) and a helpful method of delivery are also essential; although it is really supernatural authority that puts the icing on the cake of a good sermon.

In the final section Mr. Olyott suggests a very practical method of sermon preparation and, dare I suggest, that every minister read this every week before he writes his sermons. Finally there is a short biography of Hugh David Morgan (1928-92), a Welsh Evangelical and Reformed preacher who exemplified the principles of this book. Written in a very clear and comprehensible style Preaching - Pure and Simple is well worthy of prayerful consideration, even by those of us who are not ministers.
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
A sermon is an explanation of a portion of Scripture with doctrinal formulations and practical applications. It is from the whole preacher to the whole person (no separation of head and heart). I agree that the preaching of the Word of God is the Word of God (as long as it is faithful!) used by the Spirit to change people. I view explanation, doctrine, and application as being the three integral elements of preaching (this is the Puritan view). Without any one of those things, it is not a sermon. This raises the serious question of whether "topical" preaching is actually preaching. It can be done in a way that renders it little different from expository preaching (basing the topic on a Scripture passage). However, most topical preaching is not preaching, since they do not preach the Word, but their own hobby horse. The model is Ezra, explaining the text, and the Spirit effecting change in the people as they heard it applied to their situation. The application bit is where the relevance to our modern situation is to be explored. The Word applies not only to the original audience, but also to us in our situation.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
Preaching is the vehicle by which faith is delivered. Preaching is done by those whom are sent by God with authority to deliver the good news. (Their feet are beautiful, BTW) (Rom 10)

Preaching is the revelation of the arm of the Lord. (Isa 53:1)
 

MOSES

Puritan Board Freshman
Preaching is the vehicle by which faith is delivered.

THE vehicle..

What about those who have faith from infancy.

9 Yet you are he who took me from the womb;
you made me trust you at my mother's breasts.
10 On you was I cast from my birth,
and from my mother's womb you have been my God.

this is :offtopic:

I'm just curious though.
 

toddpedlar

Iron Dramatist
Preaching is the vehicle by which faith is delivered.

THE vehicle..

What about those who have faith from infancy.

9 Yet you are he who took me from the womb;
you made me trust you at my mother's breasts.
10 On you was I cast from my birth,
and from my mother's womb you have been my God.

this is :offtopic:

I'm just curious though.

Off the top of my head, we can look at this firstly by
recognizing that the Psalmist is not giving us some doctrine
of "paedofaith" here. (Sorry, Rich Lusk) What is being proclaimed
is God's love to his children from the earliest days - and trust
that the Psalmist always remembers.

Secondly, one has to be VERY careful about assigning normativity
to extraordinary cases. The Holy Spirit can and DOES act in
extraordinary ways in individual cases, but His doing so cannot and
must not be treated as an every day expectation for everyone.
In this case, perhaps (though I prefer the simpler reading above,
as I think it is quite common for Biblical writers to express things
that way) the Holy Spirit spoke the Word, in a way that the
infant Psalmist could understand, in order that faith be awakened.
The infant John was in that way awakened prior to his birth, also.

My tuppence.
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
How Preaching May be Called "The Word of God" -- William Gouge

http://www.puritanboard.com/f35/william-gouge-preaching-13469/

Directory for the Publick Worship of God.

Second Helvetic Confession, Chap. 1:

THE PREACHING OF THE WORD OF GOD IS THE WORD OF GOD. Wherefore when this Word of God is now preached in the church by preachers lawfully called, we believe that the very Word of God is proclaimed, and received by the faithful; and that neither any other Word of God is to be invented nor is to be expected from heaven: and that now the Word itself which is preached is to be regarded, not the minister that preaches; for even if he be evil and a sinner, nevertheless the Word of God remains still true and good.

Neither do we think that therefore the outward preaching is to be thought as fruitless because the instruction in true religion depends on the inward illumination of the Spirit, or because it is written "And no longer shall each man teach his neighbor..., for they shall all know me" (Jer. 31:34), And "Neither he who plants nor he that waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth" (I Cor. 3:7). For although "No one can come to Christ unless he be drawn by the Father" (John 6:44), And unless the Holy Spirit inwardly illumines him, yet we know that it is surely the will of God that his Word should be preached outwardly also. God could indeed, by his Holy Spirit, or by the ministry of an angel, without the ministry of St. Peter, have taught Cornelius in the Acts; but, nevertheless, he refers him to Peter, of whom the angel speaking says, "He shall tell you what you ought to do."

INWARD ILLUMINATION DOES NOT ELIMINATE EXTERNAL PREACHING. For he that illuminates inwardly by giving men the Holy Spirit, the same one, by way of commandment, said unto his disciples, "Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation" (Mark 16:15). And so in Phillippi, Paul preached the word outwardly to Lydia, a seller of purple goods; but the Lord inwardly opened the woman's heart (Acts 16:14). And the same Paul, after a beautiful development of his thought, in Romans 10:17 at length comes to the conclusion, "So faith comes from hearing and hearing from the Word of God by the preaching of Christ."

At the same time we recognize that God can illuminate whom and when he will, Even without the external ministry, for that is in his power; but we speak of the usual way of instructing men, delivered unto us from God, both by commandment and examples.

Matthew Henry on the ministry of Philip Henry:

He adapted his method and style to the capacities of his hearers, fetching his similitudes for illustration from those things which were familiar to them. He did not shoot the arrow of the word over their heads in high notions, or the flourishes of affected rhetoric, nor under their feet by blunt and homely expressions, but to their hearts in close and lively applications. His delivery was very graceful and agreeable, neither noisy and precipitate on the one hand, nor dull and slow on the other. His doctrine dropped as the dew, and distilled as the soaking rain, and came with a charming, pleasing power, such as many bore witness to, that have wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth.

Richard Baxter:

I preached as never sure to preach again, And as a dying man to dying men.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
Preaching is the vehicle by which faith is delivered.

THE vehicle..

What about those who have faith from infancy.

9 Yet you are he who took me from the womb;
you made me trust you at my mother's breasts.
10 On you was I cast from my birth,
and from my mother's womb you have been my God.

this is :offtopic:

I'm just curious though.

The exception does not nullify the rule, it establishes the rule.

LBC 14:1 The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts, and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word;
 

MOSES

Puritan Board Freshman
Preaching is the vehicle by which faith is delivered.

THE vehicle..

What about those who have faith from infancy.

9 Yet you are he who took me from the womb;
you made me trust you at my mother's breasts.
10 On you was I cast from my birth,
and from my mother's womb you have been my God.

this is :offtopic:

I'm just curious though.

Off the top of my head, we can look at this firstly by
recognizing that the Psalmist is not giving us some doctrine
of "paedofaith" here. (Sorry, Rich Lusk) What is being proclaimed
is God's love to his children from the earliest days - and trust
that the Psalmist always remembers.

Secondly, one has to be VERY careful about assigning normativity
to extraordinary cases. The Holy Spirit can and DOES act in
extraordinary ways in individual cases, but His doing so cannot and
must not be treated as an every day expectation for everyone.
In this case, perhaps (though I prefer the simpler reading above,
as I think it is quite common for Biblical writers to express things
that way) the Holy Spirit spoke the Word, in a way that the
infant Psalmist could understand, in order that faith be awakened.
The infant John was in that way awakened prior to his birth, also.

My tuppence.

My :2cents:

Faith is a gift from God, not an intellectual accomplishment.

Thus...wether it is an infant or an adult, the gift of faith is equally SUPERNATURAL and EXTRAORDINARY!!!

only an Arminian, in my opinion, would assume otherwise.

(I'm not accusing anyone of arminianism...I'm only making the point that faith is supernatural in all cases, and God (His giving of faith) is not a respector of persons)

Note: to clarify....the giving of faith to an adult is just as supernatural and extraordinary as the giving of faith to an infant.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
THE vehicle..

What about those who have faith from infancy.



this is :offtopic:

I'm just curious though.

Off the top of my head, we can look at this firstly by
recognizing that the Psalmist is not giving us some doctrine
of "paedofaith" here. (Sorry, Rich Lusk) What is being proclaimed
is God's love to his children from the earliest days - and trust
that the Psalmist always remembers.

Secondly, one has to be VERY careful about assigning normativity
to extraordinary cases. The Holy Spirit can and DOES act in
extraordinary ways in individual cases, but His doing so cannot and
must not be treated as an every day expectation for everyone.
In this case, perhaps (though I prefer the simpler reading above,
as I think it is quite common for Biblical writers to express things
that way) the Holy Spirit spoke the Word, in a way that the
infant Psalmist could understand, in order that faith be awakened.
The infant John was in that way awakened prior to his birth, also.

My tuppence.

My :2cents:

Faith is a gift from God, not an intellectual accomplishment.

Thus...wether it is an infant or an adult, the gift of faith is equally SUPERNATURAL and EXTRAORDINARY!!!

only an Arminian, in my opinion, would assume otherwise.

(I'm not accusing anyone of arminianism...I'm only making the point that faith is supernatural in all cases, and God (His giving of faith) is not a respector of persons)

Note: to clarify....the giving of faith to an adult is just as supernatural and extraordinary as the giving of faith to an infant.

The ordinary way God gives grace is through preaching. (According to the confession) Therefore, it is extraordinary when God gives anyone faith without preaching.
 

Archlute

Puritan Board Senior
I have appreciated a thought that Hugh Old comes back to again and again in both his single volume Worship Reformed according to Scripture, and his series The Reading and Preaching of the Scriptures in the Worship of the Christian Church , namely, that the best preaching is always doxological. What he means by that is that the best preaching in the long history of the Church (of which numerous example could be cited) has always been one inducing worship in its hearers and such that causes us to give praise to God for the magnificent work done in Christ.

Scripture can be expounded in a manner that magnifies Christ and causes us to glory in him, or it can be analyzed with scientific exactness while missing its telos altogether.

Doctrine can be preached in a way that causes the soul to be lifted up to God, or it can be rolled out in lecture style so as to be of little benefit.

Application can motivate us by being grounded in the glories of our salvation, or it can be ranting moralism that is just as much appropriate to a mosque or a synagogue as to a Christian church.

He does a good job of showing how this played out in the preaching of some well-known preachers of the past, and I would say that his observations are fairly accurate and theologically thoughtful.

So, if we want preaching to be done well, and not just done with an eye to cultural accommodation, we will not hesitate to say that it must be the Word proclaimed by a studied and pious minister, that it must be a verbal monologue that yet actively dialogues with the minds of its hearers (do not even Paul's own epistles accomplish this with his employment of rhetoric?), that it must include exegesis/doctrine/application, and yet that those three elements must be joined with piety and insight into the soul, centered upon Christ, and causing a state of worship among those who hear it.

It will not always happen that we produce such preaching, maybe even rarely happen, but that should be every minster's goal nonetheless.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Perkins' definitions in the Art of Prophesying and the Calling of the Ministry are very helpful. In the Art he calls preaching the Word a "prophesying in the name and on behalf of Christ." In the Calling he says that the minister is God's Angel or messenger and his Interpreter.
 

2 Tim 4:2

Puritan Board Freshman
Rom 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
2Ti 4:1 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:
2Ti 4:2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
1Co 1:17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
1Co 1:18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
1Co 2:4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,
1Co 2:5 that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
The preaching of the Word of God is the Word of God?

Interesting...

not a new idea at all. Bullinger, for one, taught this very clearly, and it has long been regarded as such in Reformed teaching about preaching the Word.

The preaching of the Word of God is the Word of God?

If it is so biblical and has such a long history why am I so uncomfortable with this phrase?

I would rather amend it and say that our preaching is the Word of God in as far as it is truthful to the Word of God.


It seems highly arrogant to tell your audience that they are hearing the very voice of God, unless all you do is read the Scripture and not mess it all up with your comments.
 

mvdm

Puritan Board Junior
Our local church is presently hosting a conference on preaching, led by Dr. Nelson Kloosterman of Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Last night at our first session, Dr. Kloosterman provided us with a definition of preaching that he uses with his students at the seminary in his Homiletics class:

"Preaching is the official, covenantal, trinitarian administration of the living Word of God revealed in Scripture primarily in the context of the public worship of Christ's church to edify believers and disciple the nations."

Beginning last night and over the next 3 weeks he will expound on the elements of this carefully worded definition, with generous citations to scripture and the confessions.
 

toddpedlar

Iron Dramatist
The preaching of the Word of God is the Word of God?

Interesting...

not a new idea at all. Bullinger, for one, taught this very clearly, and it has long been regarded as such in Reformed teaching about preaching the Word.

The preaching of the Word of God is the Word of God?

If it is so biblical and has such a long history why am I so uncomfortable with this phrase?

I would rather amend it and say that our preaching is the Word of God in as far as it is truthful to the Word of God.

If I'm not mistaken, that idea is part of the statement that Bullinger makes, though. Nobody would claim that a preacher's word, if lacking in conformity to God's revealed word, is the word of God.

It seems highly arrogant to tell your audience that they are hearing the very voice of God, unless all you do is read the Scripture and not mess it all up with your comments.

Be careful here - because what is said is not that the preacher is saying "Thus saith the Lord".
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
The preaching of the Word of God is the Word of God?

Interesting...

not a new idea at all. Bullinger, for one, taught this very clearly, and it has long been regarded as such in Reformed teaching about preaching the Word.

The preaching of the Word of God is the Word of God?

If it is so biblical and has such a long history why am I so uncomfortable with this phrase?

I would rather amend it and say that our preaching is the Word of God in as far as it is truthful to the Word of God.


It seems highly arrogant to tell your audience that they are hearing the very voice of God, unless all you do is read the Scripture and not mess it all up with your comments.

The effectualness (is that a word?) of preaching, as with the sacrements and prayer, is not hindered by the 'messing it all up' of imperfect humans. When preaching is done by those who have been sent by God with authority, faith is delivered to all those who have been given ears to hear.

In this way, it is the Word of God.

Eph 2:17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.

When did Jesus ever preach in Ephesus? He didn't but when His sent preachers preach, it is as if He Himself were preaching.
 

Theogenes

Puritan Board Junior
Pergamum,
The WCF, Chap.1, P.6 states that "The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man's salvation, faith and life is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture..." I think a good (biblical) sermon is just that...a deduction from Scripture and therefore in that sense, the Word of God. The sermon should explain and apply. Both are deductions from the propositions of Scripture. So, if the preacher is not being illogical, irrational concerning his deductions from the text, he is preaching the Word of God. If this were not the case then a preacher should just read the Scriptures to the congregation (I know some people may prefer that if the man is not gifted :lol:).
:2cents:
Jim
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
KMK: So preaching becomes the Word of God when it is effectual, but when it is not effectual then it is not the Word of God? If this is so then a statement that says that preaching is the Word of God and is effectual is merely a tautology.


Wouldn't it be better to say that people hear the Word of God through our preaching. I want to distinguish preaching from the Word of God, partly because so much of it stinks out there.
 

KenPierce

Puritan Board Freshman
THe preaching of the word is ALWAYS effectual. IT is either effectual unto salvation and growth and grace or condemnation.

But the true preaching of God's Word is always accomplishing God's purpose: saving and sanctifying the elect, and sealing the reprobate for the day of judgment.
 

raekwon

Puritan Board Junior
I started reading through Chapell's Christ-Centered Preaching for a second time today and caught something that I missed the first time. With all due respect and deference to the wording of our confessions, it might be more accurate and/or helpful nowadays to say that "the Word of God preached is the Word of God" instead of "the preaching of the Word of God is the Word of God". The difference looks like it could be merely semantic, but to the reader's eyes (or the listener's ears), it could eliminate a lot of misunderstanding.

The phrase "the preaching of the Word of God is the Word of God" can imply to some that receive it that "if the preacher says it, then God says it". Obviously, that is not always necessarily the case, because as Pergy just alluded to, there's a lot of bad "preaching" out there.

In saying "the Word of God preached is the Word of God", we're essentially saying what the original phrase was meant to mean, but we're putting the emphasis on the Word of God. In other words, if the preacher strays from what has been revealed in the written Word and the living Word, then whatever comes from his mouth is not the Word of God.
 
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raekwon

Puritan Board Junior
The passage in Chapell's book that the above post references (emphasis his) . . .

Scripture's portrayal of its own potency challenges us always to remember that the Word preached, rather than the preaching of the Word, accomplishes heaven's purposes. Preaching that is true to Scripture converts, convicts, and eternally changes the souls of men and women because God's Word is the instrument of divine compulsion, not because preachers have any power in themselves to stimulate such godly transformations (although human powers can certainly bring about all kinds of worldly changes, including those that masquerade as the products of heaven).
-- Bryan Chapell, Christ-Centered Preaching. 2nd ed, 27

This is what is meant by "the preaching of the Word is the Word", and is better stated as "the Word preached is the Word", in my opinion.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Thanks.


Yes, if preaching IS the Word of God and always is effectual, then this means that our preaching is always effectual...


I guess sleep is an effect....but I hate to blame that on the power of the Word of God.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
I get the feeling you are looking for a more 'visible' definition of preaching.

I have to admit that I have trouble defining preaching practically. Someone could get up and do everything in proper Puritan fashion and if they are not sent by God with authority, then it is not preaching in my opinion.
 
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