Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line: I. The Primacy of Preaching

Thursday, March 3, 2011

I. The Primacy of Preaching

Preaching for Decisions and Revival

If you are a pastor and getting a little discouraged, remember that the world loves the race horse, but God loves the plow horse. Do not envy the glory given to the race horse. The plow horse loves to give all the glory to the Master. The primary goal of preaching is what I refer to as the redirection of priorities. As worldly and carnal people, we are all prone to worldly and carnal priorities. The preaching of the Word of God ALWAYS redirects the importance of any decision in life to ask one simple question; how will/can what I am doing, or what I am thinking about doing, bring glory to God? Therefore, the primary purpose in preaching within the redirection of priorities is also a redirection of focus. The world of unbelief considers all of this a mere waste of time or “foolishness.” However, God has ordained this “foolishness.” Whenever a preacher redirects the focus of a life priority with the Word of God, such redirection ends with an appeal for a decision to act upon what God’s Word says. Preaching that merely conveys knowledge, without including an appeal for a decision, is not preaching at all. This is the difference between preaching and mere teaching. 

17 For Christ sent me not to baptize {because Paul was an Evangelist}, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. 18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent {through preaching}. 20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise {fishermen, publicans, and common people; Paul was the only trained theologian in the bunch and God had to take him into the wilderness for three years to fix him}; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29 That no flesh should glory in his presence. 30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: 31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord {what God does through men, not giving glory to the men; cp I Corinthians chapter 3}:” (I Corinthians 1:17-30). 

Spirit-filled preaching is defined by a prerogative, at least three definitive parameters, and at least four purposes/objectives

  • Prerogatives; an exclusive right, privilege, etc., exercised by virtue of rank or office. Although all believers are to preach the Gospel, the Word of God explicitly commands that preaching (as a calling) is to be limited to qualified individuals. These specially called and gifted men are required to possess certain definitive character qualities (I Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9). 

8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. 9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:” (Ephesians 4:11-12). 

Ephesians 4:8 is quoting from Psalm 68:18. We must understand what Paul is saying from the context of that text. “Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell among them.” When Christ “ascended on high,” He ascended to the position as a new High Priest of a new priesthood. Upon His ascension, God gave Him “gifts for men.” According to Ephesians 4:11, these “gifts for men” of Psalm 68:18 are especially God-gifted men. In other words, they have a special vocational calling and special supernatural enabling for that calling. According to Ephesians 4:12, these specially gifted men are given “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” The only two continuing gifts of men throughout the Church Age are “evangelists” and “pastors/teachers.” 

  • Parameters: what is the primacy in preaching? This is defined by the parameters of preaching. Parameters are the limits/boundaries of preaching. A parameter is a characteristic factor that both limits and determines the genuine viability of something. 

1. “Preach the Word;” preaching is the interpretation, proclamation, explanation, and application of what God has said in His inspired Word. 

“1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (II Timothy 4:1-2, cp. Neh. 8:1-8). 
2. Preaching is Christ centered (Christocentric) as opposed to people-centered (anthropocentric). At any time a text of Scripture is avoided, or the explanation of the message of a text is reduced, generalized, or purposefully neglected so as to avoid division or to avoid confronting anyone about anything that Scripture condemns, but culture condones, that preaching ceases to be Christocentric. People-centered preaching is what the Word of God refers to as respecting persons. This is certainly true of the damnable philosophy known as Positivism

1 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. 2 For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; 3 And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: 4 Are ye not then partial {discriminating} in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts {the idea is making a prejudicial or bias judgment that is contrary to what is right}” (James 2:1-4)? 

3. Preaching is God glorifying in its focus; perhaps the greatest danger to any preacher is the desire for the praise of men for by this one fault all the rest of his motivations will soon be corrupted. 

“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (I Corinthians 10:31). 

Everything we do should be done with a finger pointing to God. As soon as someone begins to point their finger of praise to us, we should immediately correct them and redirect them to glorify God. In order to insure that we do not perform for the praise of men, every Christian needs to consider “his precepts, and the propriety, expediency, appearance, and tendency[1]” for receiving, or even wanting, the praise of men for our actions. 

Anything that generates applause for the performance to the performer is false spirituality. That which brings glory to God and directs all glory to God is true spirituality. 

There is a great but simple truth here. If you want or perform for man’s praise you will lose God’s blessing. Now think about this for a moment. Are you willing to settle for a meager few seconds of applause or praise from men or do you believe that our loving heavenly Father might possibly be able to give you a spiritual blessing so great that it is beyond your imagination? Do you want a handful of peanuts or do you want the peanut farm? You answer these questions by where you want the glory to go and by the degree you act to insure the directing of that glory to God. 

  • Purposes/Objectives: an objective is something that one’s efforts or actions are intended to attain or accomplish; a purpose or goal. The preacher must always remember that “fruit” production is God’s work accomplished through the Spirit filled preacher as the preacher interprets, explains, and proclaims God’s expectations. 

1. To persuade people to make spiritual decisions especially regarding the issues of faith or trusting God. The very first decision is to accept the sixty-six books of the Bible as the Word of God. Until the Bible is accepted as the Word of God, there are no dogmatic foundations for faith. Apart from the inerrant, inspiration of Scripture all faith in God is reduced to Empiricism and Relativism in that all doctrine becomes relative to empirical evidences. 

A. Autopisticism: accepts the Bible’s claims of inerrancy and inspiration by faith.
B. Axiopisticism: accepts the Bible as the Word of God only to the degree it can be proven accurate by history, science, and external evidences. This is the primary purpose and methodology of Apologetics. 

2. To lead people to an understanding of their sinfulness before God and their condemnation by God. To lead people to understand God’s loving promise and provision of redemption “by grace through faith and to understand the Gospel of the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ. This understanding must include His resurrection/glorification in fulfilling God’s promise of redemption for “whosoever will.” This ends with an appeal to people to “obey the Gospel” by repenting of sin, believing/resting in the objective facts of the Gospel, confessing Jesus as Jehovah, calling on the Name of Jesus for salvation, and receiving the Lord Jesus in the Person of the indwelling Spirit Holy Spirit. 

3. Once people have been led to trust in Christ and are “born again,” these people are to be led to formally unite with the living organism of a local church through water baptism. This is a physical testimony that they understand that they are committing to die daily to the “old man” and daily walk in the “newness of life” through yielding to the indwelling Holy Spirit and being habitually filled with the Spirit. This is the initial decision and commitment to begin their discipleship process in progressive transfiguration (Romans 12:2). 

4. To teach God’s Word to believers so that they can be equipped with the tools necessary to the “work of the ministry.” This is the third phase of the Great Commission (“Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you,” Matthew 28:20). This is the goal of discipleship through progressive levels of spiritual decisions in practical sanctification. No one can said to be evangelized until all three phases of the Great Commission have been accomplished in a life. 

[1] Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, SwordSearcher Software 6.1, comments on I Corinthians 10:31

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Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: http://www.disciplemakerministries.org/
Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist.
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.

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