Let’s just admit it. This thing we do every Sunday is strange. Not the gathering or the singing or the saying hi to each other things. It’s the listening to preaching thing. Concentrating attentively for 40 minutes while one person lectures us excitedly about things we can’t see and people we’ve not met from a book over 2000 years old—doesn’t that seem strange to you?
It would be, if not for what we believe about that Book. As our church Statement of Faith says: “We believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the inspired Word of God, inerrant in the original writings, complete as the revelation of God’s will for salvation, and the supreme and final authority in all matters to which they speak.”
Those are some lofty claims, and if true, they set this book apart from any other. If this Bible of ours really is all of those things, it’s no wonder we need to hear someone preach from it every week. If God has indeed spoken, and if this book is His inspired, inerrant, authoritative word, we’d better listen up when it is read and preached!
The Apostle Peter describes preaching like this: “If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God” (1 Pt 4:11 NIV). Peter isn’t commending the manner of preaching: “Do it like this.” Rather, he’s saying something about the nature of preaching: “Preaching is when the speech you hear comes to you as the word of God Himself.” How can a man preach as if his words were the very word of God? Answer: Only when he says exactly what God has said.
In other words, preaching is simply a reiteration of God’s own words. It rings with the sound of God’s own voice. It echoes and explains and expresses God’s own words after Him. This means you should be able to look at your Bible and see God’s words right there, corresponding to what is coming out of the preacher’s mouth. Line by line and verse by verse, it should be apparent that what you are hearing is not a made up speech; it is the very speech of God.
The biblical preacher does not come on his own authority or invent his own message or show off his own cleverness. He’s simply a mouthpiece for God. At the end of a fabulous violin concert, no one applauds the violin. The violin is simply responding to the skill and energy of the maestro, and the master gets all the glory. In the same way, preaching that glorifies God is preaching that comes to the listeners as the very voice of God Himself.