“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (I Corinthians 1:18).
“But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness” (I Corinthians 1:23).
As we start to think about the importance of preaching, I read a funny story that I think will help introduce our topic of preaching.A preacher was visiting with his congregation after the Sunday morning service when a determined-looking woman approached him. Obviously displeased she said, “Pastor, as a member of the pulpit committee, I was hoping that your sermons would excite our congregation.”
The new pastor replied, “You’re right, I did say I could excite this congregation, but I did not say I could raise them from the dead!”
(Taken from 1001 Humorous Illustrations )
Here is another funny anecdote—the new minister’s car broke down just after the morning service, so on Monday he had it towed to the local garage for repairs.
“I hope you’ll go a little easy on the price,” he told the mechanic. “After all, I’m just a poor preacher.”
“I know,” came the reply; “I’ve heard you.”
(Taken from 1001 Humorous Illustrations)
Preaching has become disdained in our culture and our society for a few reasons:
- Because our culture has moved away from the authority of the Word of God. As our culture has slipped away from the Bible, the preaching of the Word of God seems silly to those that think of it as a fairy tale, as a book of myths, or as a general historical fiction book.
Martin Luther said the following: “Nothing is more perilous than to be weary of the Word of God. Thinking he knows enough, a person begins little by little to despise the Word until he has lost Christ and the gospel all together.”
Consider the following quote from D. Martyn Lloyd Jones from his book Preaching and Preachers:
I believe that the printing and publication of sermons has had a bad effect upon preaching. I refer particularly to the publication of sermons, speaking roughly, since somewhere about 1890, and—dare I say it—I have a feeling that the Scottish school of preachers have been the greatest offenders in this respect. I believe it happened in this way. These men were endowed with a real literary gift, and the emphasis passed, unconsciously again, from the truth of the message to the literary expression. They paid great attention to literary and historical allusions and quotations and so on. In other words, these men, as I shall suggest in a later lecture, were essayists rather than preachers; but as they published these essays as sermons, they were accepted as sermons. That has undoubtedly had a controlling effect upon the thinking of many in the church as to what a sermon should be, and also as to what preaching really is. So I would attribute a good deal of the decline in preaching at the present time to those literary effusions which have passed under the name of sermons and of preaching.
2. Because our culture has lost its fear of God. This has crept in even to our churches. First, let’s consider what the fear of God is. We see this phrase used a few times in the Bible. Consider the following texts: Proverbs 1:7; 2:5; 3:7; 8:13; 9:10; 10:27; 13:13; 14:2; 14:16; 14:26-27; 15:16; 15:33; 16:6; 19:23; 22:4; 23:17; 24:21; 28:14; 31:30; Ecclesiastes 3:14; 5:7; 7:18; 8:12; and 12:13.
What is the fear of the Lord? There are three elements that are included in having the fear of the Lord.
These three have to be all together in order to have the proper fear of the Lord. They combine to give oneself the right attitude of God.
So, why is the fear of the Lord important?
“And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears” (Isaiah 11:1-3).
Christ feared the Lord! This was part of His submission to God in coming to give us salvation. So, for a Christian to become like Christ, he must understand and develop the fear of the Lord.
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
Fearing the Lord and keeping his commandments is the whole duty of man. So, understanding this concept should be a priority of a Christian because without this being part of our life we are not fulfilling one of God’s purposes while here on this earth.
“The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy” (Psalm 147:11).
As you can see, the fear of the Lord is a very important attribute to have in our life. This has been lost in our society. This is one of the reasons that there is a disdain for preaching. We have NO FEAR OF GOD in our lives and really in our land much anymore. This has crept into our church, our families, and our lives. How? Think of the invitation time; the singing time; the offering time—all of these aspects of our service are to worship the Lord and to bring us into the presence of the Lord. We think of using the restroom at the invitation time. We think of starting our roast at the invitation time. It is even common to see numerous people looking around. The invitation is part of our service; it is part of the preaching service. The preaching is done to provoke us to consider some aspect of our lives. By not bowing before God we show a spirit of rebellion and haughtiness to God—saying that there is no way God is going to speak to me.