Probably it’s a combination of attending an apologetically driven conference and being scheduled to preach on faith this Sunday, but I’m pondering preaching for faith. I suppose that is always close to the heart of the matter in Christian preaching. Anyway, here are a couple of thoughts, although this could be a series of posts for the rest of the month.
The critical role of God’s Word. Right back in Genesis 3 everything “went wrong” when? When they doubted God’s Word and listened to another “authority.” Surely God’s Word couldn’t be trusted since this impressive creature had disobeyed it and yet still lived? So they ate and they died spiritually, they began to die physically and the whole creation began to suffer death. From that decisive moment on, the Bible is full of narratives, all of which have a big question mark hanging over them like an unfurled banner – “will people trust God’s Word or not?” Interestingly, when God’s Son steps into the world to make a path back to deep relational intimacy with God, He comes as God’s Word. Will he be trusted? Doubting God’s word in the first place led us away, now there is a symmetry in the remedy in that we are asked to trust God’s Word (incarnated and inscripturated) in order to be brought back. Consequently Paul writes to the Romans that faith comes by hearing, so the Word of God must be preached. Peter tells his readers that they were born again through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead and through the living and enduring Word of God. Hebrews urges the believers to remember their leaders who spoke the Word of God to them, and thereby imitate their faith. In John 17, Jesus prays concerning the Word of God that He has given to His followers, and prays that they will be sanctified by the truth, which is the Word. I could go on pulling example after example, but the point is critical – the preaching of the Word of God is absolutely central to the purposes of God in redeeming a lost world.
So the simple question is this – as you look at your message this Sunday, what is the appropriate faith response to God’s Word as preached in your message? Is it clear? Is it central?
In the next post I’d like to share some provocative thoughts on faith from Dr John Lennox.