Preaching is important. It helps make us what we are as Christians. If we feed upon weak preaching, we will be weak. If we feed upon strong preaching, we have the opportunity to grow spiritually.
The kind of preaching that a person wants is what he will find (2 Tim. 4:3). The type preaching that we encourage is the type we want to hear. What we criticize, is what we do not care to hear.
Preachers must be sound in their preaching. Christians must demand that preachers proclaim sound doctrine.
1. We are commanded to preach sound doctrine. Paul instructed Timothy to “hold firm the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me” (2 Tim. 1:13). Titus was told to “speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1; cf. 1:9; 2:8).
2. Paul equates “sound doctrine” with the “gospel” (1 Tim. 1:10-11). Thus, sound preaching is according to the gospel. The book of Titus which focuses on soundness (1:9, 13; 2:1, 2, 8), begins with the basis and standard for soundness: the revelation of God (Titus 1:1-4). Thus, sound doctrine is that which is according to the revelation of God.
3. What does sound doctrine include? It includes any and all that is in the gospel or revelation of God. From the book of Titus we see that it includes such subjects as God’s nature (1:2), eternal life (1:2; 2:23; 3:7), the grace of God (1:3; 2:11-12; 3:4-7), elder’s work and qualifications (1:5-9), refutation of false teaching (1:10-16), personal godliness (2:1-10), home relationships and responsibilities (2:4-5), our speech (2:8), our example (2:7), the sacrifice of Jesus Christ (2:13-14), obedience to civil law (3:1), how to treat others (3:2-8), baptism (3:5), the work of the Holy Spirit (3:5) and dealing with a heretic (3:10).
Elements of Bible Preaching
1. Preaches the word of God. The faithful man of God must not preach his opinions or his own thinking, but “speak as the oracles of God” (1 Pet. 4:11). Paul said his message was the word of God (1 Thess. 2:13).
It is easy for preachers to think that their words of wisdom and their own strong opinions should be received by their hearers with the same open ears that the gospel is. However, Bible preaching is just that: preaching the Bible!
2. Points to God. Our preaching should point to God as source of all creation (Acts 17:24) and the authority of our lives (Acts 17:30-31). We must point to God as the object of our faith and trust. Paul preached so that his hearer’s faith would not stand in the “wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Cor. 2:2-3). Gospel preaching is not designed to please men, but God (1 Thess. 2:4-6).
A sound preacher will convert men to God and not to himself. If his preaching causes men to have more faith in him (the preacher) than in God, it will take very little to destroy that kind of faith.
3. Refutes error. Timothy was charged to “Preach the word. . . convince, rebuke, and exhort…” (2 Tim. 4:2). Titus was to instruct elders to stop the mouths of false teachers and rebuke them sharply (Titus 1:9-13). Bible preaching defends the gospel (Phil. 1:17), at times militantly (Act:17:6). A casual reading of the New Testament will reveal that the Lord and his apostles dealt with the errors of the day (both in and out of the church) and answered the arguments of the false teachers.
4. Reproves sin. Proclaiming the word leaves no room to tolerate sin. Thus, the preacher must reprove (2 Tim. 4:2). Worldliness must be clearly denounced (1 Cor. 6:9-11 ff; Gal. 5:19- 21; 1 Pet. 4:3).
5. Leads men to salvation. Preaching must tell men about God’s grace, the sacrifice of Christ and redemption available through his blood (Eph. 2:5, 8, 13, 16). Furthermore, it must tell men what to do to obtain salvation by the blood of Christ (Acts 2:22, 36, 38).
6. Instructs in right living. The inspired word instructs in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16). Being taught right living is a part of going “on to perfection” (Heb. 6:1) or maturing in the Lord. God’s people must learn about the home, marriage, prayer, worship, personal godliness, honesty and attitudes.
7. Distinctive. Bible preaching will distinguish truth from error. Likewise it must differentiate the Lord’s church and denominationalism.
Preaching (over a period of time, not one sermon) that could be presented in any denomination without objection isn’t Bible preaching. The sermons in Acts 2, 3 ,4, 8 were distinctive enough for men to see that they (though they were religious) needed to change!
8. Demands results. The message that gets results will first demand results. The preaching of Peter and Paul called for repentance (Acts 2:37, 38 cf; 17:30-31). A change of heart and life was demanded.
Application must be made to the people. Peter directed his charges of killing the Son of God to the Jews present on Pentecost. He said “you” have crucified him (Acts 2:21-22). John did the same with Herod (Mark 6:14).
9. With the right attitude. Paul described his behavior among the Thessalonians saying, “But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us” (1 Thess. 2:7-8).
It is possible for a man to preach the truth and yet do so with an attitude that stinks. His disposition hinders the effect of the gospel. He can take a firm stand and do so with humility. He can rebuke sharply and yet do so with kindness. He can inform and instruct without a know-it-all attitude. Even so, no matter how the truth is preached, those who have no intention of obeying it will find fault with how it was delivered. This is why the gospel must be preached whether their audience likes it or not! (2 Tim 4:2-5)