The great need of our world today is godly preaching. We can look out and see every form of disarray before us. We can turn on our televisions and see it. We can turn our radios and hear it. Our world is smoldering at a steady pace. However, my claim remains the same: the great need of our world today is godly preaching.
To some that very idea sounds ludicrous. Others might contend for “better” alternatives. “We need better economic plans,” or “We need better systems in place,” and many other symptom-deadening solutions. One thing we can note is that the aim of many so-called solutions look chiefly at the symptoms while failing to penetrate where the problems facing humanity lie – that is the heart. God has so designed the world, that He utilizes the proclamation of the Bible to change people’s hearts by His Holy Spirit. The history of the church proves that point well.
The great preacher, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones noted, that the Reformation and great revivals throughout history have been accomplished by the Holy Spirit as He leads men towards an emphasis on the preaching of the Word of God. Historically this is why during the Protestant Reformation of the 1500-1600s, one of the chief changes was the removal of altars from the church. In place of an altar, a pulpit was erected right at the center. This highlighted the centrality of God’s Word, not merely in the realm of ideas, but in time and space. We are reminded with such images that a church must be established on the Word of God, or else it is a church merely in name alone. Such modern “churches” are akin to the Pharisees of Christ’s day; religious in form, void in substance.
If we consider the history of Israel, we can identify their many failures to honor God. They maintained liturgical practices and rites at the right times and seasons. But all of their spirituality was pointless because their hearts had no regard for what God had said in His Word, and by necessity, no regard for Him. The Israelites eventually were devoured by foreign nations. Yet God, mercifully still sent prophets to point them back to Himself. These prophets came under the scrutiny of Israel. Israel rejected them, and beat them. They were told to shut up and were killed. Nevertheless, faithful men like Amos continued to proclaim God’s woes of judgment (cf. Amos 7:17).
If despising God’s Word inevitably led to death and destruction, then we may infer that treasuring His Word means life and hope to all who cling to Him and His promises. English puritan William Gurnall wrote, “The Christian is bred by the Word, and he must be fed by it.” The Scriptures are as much a Christian’s source of life as a mother’s milk is vitality to her babe. We must note that God’s people have always been a people of the Word.
We may think of Ezra the priest. Ezra was used by God to help lead God’s people back to proper worship and instruction after their days in exile. Ezra is described as “a scribe skilled in the Law of Moses that the LORD, the God of Israel, had given” and that “the good hand of his God was on him. For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach His statutes and rules in Israel.” (Ezra 7:6, 9-10 ESV) Ezra had benefitted from his time in God’s Word, but that benefit was not merely for his own good. His desire was to teach it. This was the duty of a faithful priest as we read elsewhere “the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.”
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