As I've touched on the sacraments this past week, I must include the ministry of the Word of God. I so appreciate that at our church we all stand up for the reading of God's Word. It is good and right to hear the Word read all together, and to hear it preached. But have you ever wondered, "But what is the sermon really FOR? God doesn't need a sermon." I know that I have gone through seasons when I wasn't sure how to think about the importance of preaching and the Word.
Edmund Clowney's book The Church has been a great resource for me in this series. Hear what he has to say about preaching in his chapter on the service of worship.
"Public worship addresses God in the presence of his people; it also addresses God's people in the presence of God. Preaching is not prayer; it is not directed to God, but to God's people and to any who will hear the message. We have all heard prayers turn into sermons, as though the Lord needed instruction. Easier to understand is the preacher who interrupts his sermon to pray for grace, or to praise God for the light of his Word. Both preacher and congregation, however, must be clear as to who is addressing whom. Preaching is part of worship, not because of a sprinkling of prayers, or by the use of a special 'holy' language, but because both preacher and people know that the Lord is present among them, and addresses them through his Word.
Because the church is the Lord's assembly, and because the hearing of the Word of God forms and directs the life of the assembly, there can be no spiritual renewal of the church that does not restore the place and power of preaching. Paul's last charge to Timothy remains the Lord's word to the church in the twenty-first century:
'In the presence of God and of Jesus Christ...I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage - with great patience and careful instruction...'(2 Timothy 4:1-4)"
Edmund Clowney, The Church
This is the 26th part in a series. Go here to read the series from the beginning. Go here to read over 700 other 31 Day series on all kinds of topics.