Balance in Preaching
Looking back on his work at Ephesus, Paul told the elders of that church, “I did not shrink back from declaring to you anything that was profitable. . . . Therefore, I testify to you today that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I did not shrink back from declaring to you the whole purpose of God” (Acts 20:20, 26-27).
As Irven Lee once put it, preachers are just “God’s little delivery boys.” Our task is to communicate God’s word to mankind as He revealed it in Scripture. We do not originate the message. It is not our place to decide which parts are or are not important. We have no authority to edit the message. We have no business either making rules God did not make or dismissing those He did. We dare not ignore instructions that may be harder to practice, or water down truths or requirements that we fear some might find unpalatable (see 2 Corinthians 2:17). If people reject the message, they are rejecting God. “See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking” (Hebrews 12:25).
Paul told the Corinthians, “For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). That means preaching God’s grace and mercy in Jesus, uniquely in Him. It means preaching who and what Jesus is, including the supporting evidences of Jesus’ miracles and fulfilled prophecy. It also means preaching what Jesus requires: the title Christ refers directly to Jesus’ lordship.
Paul’s letters to the Corinthians illustrate just how broad the scope of preaching Jesus is. They talk about Jesus’ death and the forgiveness it makes possible. They speak of God’s grace and our hope of a coming better life. They also deal with “doctrinal” matters such as the two covenants, pointedly condemning those who teach what is false. They address worship, plainly identifying right and wrong practices. And they have a lot to say about attitudes and conduct in the daily lives of Christians.
Those of us who preach need to watch our balance. We need to preach it all, not just our favorite themes or passages. We need to help both beginners and more advanced students. Our sermons need to be both educational and practical. We must reassure and at the same time challenge—as one put it, “Comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.”
Beginning this Sunday, at the first service we will have sermons on the family, then at the worship hour, lessons about prophecies Jesus fulfilled. In between, the adult Bible class will be studying David and his godly heart. Balanced preaching also requires balanced hearing. Will you be present for all these lessons?