“...to make the word of God fully known” - Colossians 1:25
There is a story of a traveling preacher who, at an airport security checkpoint, was asked what the black cardboard box in his bag contained.
It was his Bible.
But the preacher shocked the security officer when he replied, “Dynamite!”
Why Preach From the Bible?
The word of God is powerful, and the job of the preacher of the gospel is to make the word of God fully known. This includes 1) exposition (uncovering the intended meaning), 2) explanation (translating the meaning to our modern context), 3) application (action steps), and, ultimately, 4) how the text fits into the overall story of the gospel.
What this means is that our content must always flow from the word of God. Testimonies, although they are helpful, do not match God’s revelation. Illustrations and stories are great supporters of the text, but should never take the place of the text. And culture and life situations should always be explained in light of the text. As John Piper says,
It is not the job of the Christian preacher to give moral or psychological pep talks about how to get along in the world; someone else can do that. But, most of our people have no one in the world to tell them, week in and week out, about the supreme beauty and majesty of God.
In 1 Timothy 4:13, Paul says to the young pastor, Timothy, “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.” Timothy’s task (and ours) is to read the text, teach from the text, and exhort from the text. When we do this, we become somewhat prophetic because we are drawing from God’s revelation and making a proclamation to God’s people.
There is constant temptation to do other things than preach the word. So Paul tells Timothy in verse 16, “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.” The news of salvation comes through God’s man to God’s people when the text is exposited. In 2 Timothy 4:1-2, Paul says,
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 kingdom: preach the Word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
In this passage, the Apostle Paul elevates preaching to a charge given in the presence of God and of Jesus, who is noted as the Judge of the living and the dead. The charge is to preach the word. Paul says this should be done in season and out of season, in the good times and the bad times, in the dry times and in the times of blessing. Paul sees preaching God’s word as a matter of urgency for the church.
To Paul, preaching the word includes 1) reproving (correcting wrongful action), 2) rebuking (giving strong warning) , and 3) exhorting (encouraging). Each of these is an aspect of application.
God’s word is intended to be applied to the lives of those in the church. All good preaching takes the things of God and makes them real in the lives of the hearers. As John Stott rightly argues, “…a sermon ought to have heaven for its father and the earth for its mother.” The sermon is a bridge of communication between God and men. This is why the content of our preaching must be the word because there is no other divine communication like it. God’s truth is to be proclaimed wherever it is found, whether that be general or special revelation. While general revelation (e.g. the beauty of nature, the complexity of the universe) communicates God in general, the Bible, God’s special revelation, communicates God in particular - Jesus the Christ. This is why it is our goal to make the word of God fully known.
As Paul tells us, we are ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor. 5:20). Consider Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ exhortation to preachers about what an ambassador is: “He is not a man who speculates and gives his own views and ideas. He is the bearer of a message, he is commissioned to do this, he is sent to do this; and that is what he must do.”
Since we are entrusted as ambassadors to bring to the nations the message of the King, we must preach with authority knowing who we represent. The scriptures we make known to Living Stones Churches are divine words, which our church so desperately needs. As John Stott says, “The Word of God is the scepter by which Christ rules the church and the food with which he nourishes it.”
Authority in preaching comes when God’s thoughts and speech from the Bible are the content of the sermon. All illustrations, stories, jokes, bodily postures, voice patterns, and other homiletical skills should only serve to magnify the word of God. Therein lays the power to change humans.