Faithlife Sermons

Why the Folly of Preaching?

1 & 2 Timothy/Titus  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  34:33
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Why is preaching such an important part of Christian worship. 2 Timothy 4:1-8 provides us with the answer.

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During the last several decades preaching has fallen on hard times. Extended periods of singing, drama, dance, healings, tongues, and other miraculous signs and wonders have all displaced the sermon in many churches. Even when there is a “sermon” it is not an expository message based on a text of Scripture, but it is messages of self-help morality, therapeutic advice or political pontificating with a bible verse thrown in here or there. The biblical expository sermon has become the Rodney Dangerfield of the American church: “It don’t get no respect!”
This is not a new problem. Our prayer of confession and assurance of pardon were based on 1 Corinthians chapter one. Apparently in Corinth biblical preaching of the gospel was looked down upon as “folly”. In 2 Timothy 4, Paul had to urge Timothy to not neglect the preaching of God’s Word. Let’s turn our bibles to that text. I will begin reading at 2 Timothy 3:16 and conclude with 2 Timothy 4:8.
2 Timothy 3:16–4:8 ESV
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
The first thing that jumps out at us in this passage is the urgency of the charge Paul gives Timothy. From this we can discern that the first reason preaching should have a prominent place in the Christian worship service is because...

Preaching is Urgently Needed

Twice in these verses Paul mentions the coming judgement (2 Tim 4:1 and 2 Tim 4:8). In those two verses he also mentions twice the “appearing” or Second Advent of the Lord. The end of this present age and the judgement that will follow is rapidly approaching. The day of reckoning is at hand!
The church growth movement was based on meeting people’s “felt needs.” Consequently, self-help messages loosely based on the bible replaced expository preaching. The message of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation is about Christ and him crucified. To rip the moral and ethical teaching of the Bible out of its gospel context in order to produce “practical” messages about marriage, parenting or personal finances is to distort the message of the Bible. In addition, it in light of the appearing of Christ and his judgement it is impractical. A happy marriage, beautiful kids and a healthy bank account is not going to do you any good on judgement day!
What the world needs is preachers and preaching like that of the apostle Paul.
1 Corinthians 2:1–5 ESV
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
The concluding words of this passage point us to the second reason expository preaching must have a prominent place in the Christian worship service...

Preaching Unleashes the Power of God

The reason Paul was not ashamed of the gospel is because he understood that it was the power of God.
Romans 1:16 ESV
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
It is by the power of his Word that God does his work. In the beginning spoke creation into existence.
Genesis 1:1–3 ESV
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
For five more days God spoke and creation responded. That Word was Christ.
John 1:1–3 ESV
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
It is by his Word that God created new life in spiritually dead sinners.
1 Peter 1:23 ESV
since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;
It is by the Word of God that God creates faith in us.
Romans 10:17 ESV
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
In that same chapter, Paul identifies preaching as the primary way God unleashing this regenerating, faith producing power.
Romans 10:14–15 ESV
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
The reformers understood, that God is free to use extraordinary means of grace. Stories abound of people coming to repentance and faith apart from preaching. Stories such as a salesman coming to faith in a motel room reading a Gideon bible or someone reading a Christian biography. But these are all extraordinary means, the ordinary way God creates faith is through the preaching or heralding of the gospel.
In days past, a herald was someone who walked through the streets heralding the king’s new: “Hear Ye! Hear Ye! The kings has proclaimed a feast in his kingdom to occur in a fortnight.” In this sense, anyone who proclaims the message about Christ, be they a Sunday School teacher, a street evangelist, a camp counselor is a “preacher.” But it is in the ministry of a Teaching Elder like Timothy, preaching in public worship that God especially uses. Listen again to the charge Paul gives Timothy.
2 Timothy 4:1–2 ESV
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
The reason for why the Teaching Elders preaching ministry is so important is found in the next two verses.
2 Timothy 4:3–4 ESV
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
Notice the “for” at the beginning of verse 3? Paul is giving Timothy the reason why he should be so devoted to the preaching ministry—because if he is not faithfully preaching the gospel people will fall prey to false teachers.
This brings us to the third and final reason Paul gives us in this text for the primacy of preaching in the public worship service.

Preaching Preserves the Saints

Paul concludes his charge to Timothy to preach the Word by holding himself up as an example.
2 Timothy 4:5–8 ESV
As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
Paul is one who has done what he is charging Timothy to do. Paul has faithfully, “preached the word in season and out of season;” he has done “the word of an evangelist” and has “fulfilled his ministry.” Now he prepared to “depart” and put on “the crown of righteousness,” but did you notice how he ends his appeal? Paul says the same thing is true for “all who have loved his appearing.” In other words, there is not just a “crown of righteousness” awaiting faithful Teaching Elders, but all faithful Christians.
I started my Scripture lesson at 2 Timothy 3:16 because I wanted you see and hear how Timothy’s “continuing” under the Word has a similar effect on him as a preacher as it does on those who he preaches to. Never forget that the first target God aims a sermon at is the preacher, not the congregation! I have never felt as though I was preaching AT a congregation, rather I am listening WITH a congregation as I preach. This is because it is not my word or idea I am preaching, but God’s!
Let us as a people here at Greene Valley Presbyterian Church not neglect the preaching of the Word of God. Because...
Preaching is Urgently Needed in Light of Christ’s Second Coming
Preaching Unleashes the Power of God
Preaching Preserves the Saints Unto Glory.
Let us pray...
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