The kind of preaching that God wants
There are many people in the world that have their own opinions on what kind of preaching they desire, but the real question is what kind of preaching does God want? There are many in the religious world who are not that concerned about wanting to know how God wants it done because we live in time where people just want feel good about the message they hear and they donít want to hear how they need to change things in their lives to be right with God. Of course, this is not a new problem because this idea has always been around. For instance notice what,
Isaiah 30:8 Now go,
write it before them on a tablet, And note it on a scroll, That it may be for
time to come, Forever and ever:† 9
That this is a rebellious people, Lying children, Children who will
not hear the law of the LORD;† 10
Who say to the seers, "Do not see," And to the prophets, "Do not
prophesy to us right things; Speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits.† 11 Get out of the way, Turn aside
from the path, Cause the Holy One of
These people would rather have lies told to them than the truth and this is the same problem that many are guilty of today. We also have example of this in the NT and comes as warning to Timothy from Paul.
2 Timothy 4:1 I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom:† 2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.† 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;† 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.† 5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
Again as you read in verses 3 and 4 sometimes people donít want Godís truth taught, instead they want the preacher to preach sermons that will tickle their ears even if what they are preaching will lead many down the wide road that leads to destruction.
So as Christians we must stop asking what we desire to hear preached and instead we need to open up our Bibles and find out what God wants preachers to preach. A great place to begin is by reading 1 and 2 Timothy because Paul gives a great deal of instruction to Timothy on what he should preach and how he should live his life by what he preaches.
The first thing we see Paul telling Timothy in our passage we just read was to preach the Word of God because it will convince, rebuke and exhort Christians to stay the course with Godís doctrine. Godís Word should be the main thing that is taught. Those preachers who get up and tell stories and only briefly mention any Scriptures are certainly not preaching the Word. When preachers do it their way instead of Godís way it causes congregations to lose respect for God Word and it opens the door false doctrines to enter in. This is why Paul warns Timothy that if the Word is not taught then people will go astray. In fact, Paul tells Timothy at lest 12 times in his letters for him to keep the doctrine and teach other to keep the doctrine of God.
1 Timothy 4:6 †If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.
A good minister is one that instructs the brethren with the Word of God. When this is done, this will help equip the saints with what they need to hear and not necessarily what they want to hear. God wants a preacher who will convict people of sin through His Word, so their hearts will be †pricked and they will realize that they need to repent and change their ways. This is not something that a preacher enjoys doing, but if he is preaching the whole council of God, he will preach on topics that will eventually touch everyone because we all have our different weaknesses and strengths and Godís Word covers them all as Peter says,
2 Peter 1:2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord,† 3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue
Paul gives a great example of this in,
2 Corinthians 7:8 For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it. For I perceive that the same epistle made you sorry, though only for a while.† 9 Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing.† 10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.† 11 For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.
Notice, Paul took no personal satisfaction in pointing out the sin these people were guilty of, but at the same time he also rejoiced knowing that the words he said, which came from God caused these people to be lead to repentance and that is the same attitude that all preachers should have.
Another thing we can learn about doctrinal preaching is that should be preached in such a way that everyone can understand what you are talking about. Some preachers like to show how intelligent they are and their lessons will be full of difficult terms and terminology that most people cannot follow. I remember talking to a Christian lady once who told me about how they had preacher once that could speak beautifully, but the problem was he kept speaking over everyoneís head and they would get lost in his message because he used so many words that most had not heard of and he used them as if everyone understood them. God doesnít want His Word preached this way because He wants people to understand what His Word is saying and He wants it to be clear and plain.
How many times have you heard lesson preached where the preacher sounds more like a politician than a preacher? I know I have. There has been some lesson that I have listened to where the sermon had a title, but the lesson preached was so disorganized that by the time the preacher got finished with his lesson I didnít have a clue what it was about just like a politician who says a lot but yet says nothing.
Again this is not the kind of preaching that God wants for His people because this kind of preaching even if it uses Scriptures is so confusing and undefined that it doesnít do anybody any good and will cause you to walk away feeling empty. So God wants preachers to preach the Word and to do it plainly with clarity.
Another thing we learn about Godís doctrine is that is to be taught with love for the brethren. If a preacherís main goal is to belittle and make people feel low, then they have the wrong attitude. God wants preachers who have love for the Godís people and who wants them to be right with God. They should not gloat in the sins of others instead they should rejoice in the righteousness of others. When a preacher speak out of love for a personís soul, he is going to do his best to reach that person at their level just as Paul did.
1 Corinthians 9:19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more;† 20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law;† 21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law;† 22 to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.† 23 Now this I do for the gospel's sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.
Now Paul is not saying that he would engage in sinful activates to reach these people, but that he would relate with them and come down to their level so that he might get them to listen to the Gospel. Again this shows how a preacher should preach with love for the lost and for the brethren.
Another problem some preachers have is they want to jump on a hobby horse and they want to ride it until it dies. It may be the case what they are pounding on needs to be taught, however it should not be the main focus of every message. When someone does this and even if they use lots of Scripture and itís simply to understand it can turn into something that God doesnít want because God wants all of His word preached and not just one part of it. I believe this shows lack of love on the preacherís part since he is neglecting other important issues that need to be preached about.
So God wants a preacher who preaches out of love for the brethren and who preaches the whole council of God.
Another thing we learn about what kind of preaching God wants is that he wants preachers to preach things that please God and not man. Now this can be a challenging task for some preachers because some are afraid to preach the whole truth especially if they are concerned about losing their job. Others have fear of offending someone and so they will tread in Godsí Word lightly so they donít offend.
The first thing preachers need realize is that if they offend someone while preaching the truth then they didnít offend that person, Godís Word did. Preachers and teachers need to realize that we are vessel for Godís Word and if we donít preach or teach it than we are neglecting our duty. Notice what Paul says about this in,
Galatians 1:6 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel,† 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.† 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.† 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.† 10 ∂ For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.† 11 ∂ But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.† 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Paul emphasizes twice that there is only one doctrine and we must not teach another, but he also is teaching us that that Godís Word cannot be watered down to please other people. This is area that all preachers and teachers need to understand. We donít preach to people for the sole purpose of being pleasing to them, instead we must be bold and preach the Word of God. As Jesus told His disciples,
Matthew 10:27 Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops.† 28 "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.† 29 "Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will.† 30 "But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.† 31 "Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.†
We can see that His disciples took this advice to heart because when Peter and John were arrested for preaching about Jesus and they Jews threaten them they said,
Acts 4:19 "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge.† 20 "For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard."
This is the attitude that every preacher and teacher should have. We have to learn to set aside our own personal thoughts and desires and simply preach the truth. We should never avoid preaching against things that we are struggling with. I can tell you there has been lessons that I have preached that probably stepped harder on my toes than it did anybody else.
Preachers and teachers must not avoid talking about those things that difficult for people to hear. It is very tempting to avoid difficult and controversial topics that affect many people in one way or another and I can tell you when I preached sermons like this it made me uneasy because I certainly donít enjoy preaching on †difficult controversial topics, but its necessary if all Godís Word is going to be preached.
1 Peter 4:11 If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
How can we follow what Peter has said here if we are not willing to speak all of Godís Word? You cannot. Thatís why itís so important for all of Godís Word to be preached and it should not be mixed with false doctrine.
One last point I want to make about what kind of preaching God wants is that he wants those who preach His word to live by what they preach because they are to be example of holy living as Paul told Timothy.
1 Timothy 4:12 Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
If the preacher isnít living his life according to Godís Word, yet he teaches others that they must then they are no better than the Pharisees of Jesus time because that is exactly what they were guilty of.
Matthew 23:1 Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples,† 2 saying: "The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat.† 3 "Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do.† 4 "For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.† 5 "But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments.† 6 "They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues,† 7 "greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, 'Rabbi, Rabbi.'
It not going to take long before people figure out if the preacher is living by his preaching and when they do his words become less effective because if he isnít living by them then people are going to start to think that they donít have to live by them. That is why it important that preachers practice what they preach. I read a story that illustrates this and it goes like this,
A preacher presented a sermon on honesty one Sunday. On Monday he took the bus to get to his office. He paid the fare, and the bus driver gave him back too much change. During the rest of the journey the preacher was rationalizing how God had provided him some extra money he needed for the week.
But, he just couldnít live with himself, so before he got off the bus he said to the driver, ďYouíve made a mistake. Youíve given me too much change.Ē And he preceded to give him back the extra money. The driver smiled said, ďThere was no mistake. I was at your church yesterday and heard you preach on honesty. So I decided to see if you practiced what you preached.Ē
If this preacher had not been honest then this man would have lost respect for this preacher and either stop going to church or stop listening to what this man had to say. Since he was honest and practiced what he preached this bus driver would have gained a deeper respect for the preacher and would learn from him that he does practice what he preaches and that he should do the same.
This is not just a lesson for preachers and teachers, but it also a lesson for every Christian because in one way or another we are all representing God in our lives and if we call ourselves Christians then we must also be willing to live like Christians so that we can all be good examples to those around us and so that people can see that we are practicing what we preach.
In conclusion, the kind of preaching that God wants is preaching that comes from His Word and He want all of His word preached. He wants it preached with clarity and by people who are motivated by love for the lost and for the brethren. He wants preaching that is pleasing to Him and that is not watered down to please others. Finally, he wants those who preach His Word to live by it and to be good examples to others.†