What Is The Purpose Of Preaching?

Bob Vincent

How would you answer the above titled question? This question can be answered only by the Divine source of truth, God and His inspired Word. God has chosen preaching as the means of proclaiming the Gospel to a lost and dying world, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God . . . it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (1 Corinthians 1:18, 21). In answering the question “What is the purpose of preaching?” we would do well to notice what is not the purpose of preaching.

The purpose of preaching is not to preach or glorify self. “For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord” (2 Corinthians 4:5a); “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Galatians 6:14). The pulpit is not the place to “toot your own horn.”

The purpose of preaching is not to show one’s education. Paul wrote, “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God … my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:1, 4-5).

The purpose of preaching is not to entertain or to please men. Some brethren will judge a sermon as being good by the number of humorous stories that are told or by how short the lesson might be. The purpose of a sermon is not to tickle the funny bone. If a preacher preaches merely to please men, he is not being the servant of Christ he is called to be. “For do I now persuade men or God? Or, do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10).

The purpose of preaching is not to be popular or even well liked. I am not in a popularity contest. I simply want to please the Lord; after all, He will be my judge! 

An unknown author has written the following poem about preaching.

“When I preach, there are some who say they could listen to me preach all day. Others think I preach too long; Still others think I go about it wrong. Some say my sermon is much too deep; To others, it’s shallow, and they go to sleep. Some report that I hold them spellbound, While others squirm and look around. Some speak of me as an ‘orator;’ But others feel I’m a perfect ‘bore!’ Some believe I have no light; And others think I preach just right. Some affirm that I’m too bold; Others wink and say I’m cold. Some used to say I was much too young; Now others declare my spring has sprung! Some folks say I have met ‘success;’ Others think my work is a ‘mess.’ Some have said my pay is too low when they discovered the pace I go; Still others say it is above the peak; ‘Why, he only works three hours a week!’ From all of this ’tis plain to see, that as a preacher, I’m up a tree. Condemned if I do, condemned if I don’t! Criticized if I will, criticized if I won’t! I can’t please men of such discord; So, I’ll just keep trying to please my Lord!”

The purpose of preaching is not to preach “some new thing.” In Athens at the Areopagus, “the Athenians and strangers, which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing” (Acts 17:21). We must preach the same Gospel today, as did the apostles and Christians of the 1st century if we would please the Lord. The bottom line is, there is not a “new” gospel. If it is something “new” it is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ! (Cf. Galatians 1:6-9).

In preaching, one cannot preach for “doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9). To be pleasing to God we can only “preach the Word” (2 Timothy 4:2). May we pray to God for men who will boldly proclaim His Word. May we as members of the Lord’s church uphold those who “hold fast the form of sound words” (2 Timothy 1:13) and “mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine of Christ” (Romans 16:17). –1311 Sanlor Ave., West Milton, OH 45383. bobvincent1@verizon.net

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