The Primacy of Preaching

30 06 2014

“May thy church never yield to the world with the idea of setting up the kingdom of Christ in a more easy and rapid manner than by the simple preaching of the gospel!” Charles Haddon Spurgeon

When you walk into a church the part of their worship that takes center stage is that which is prominently displayed. This is the main focus of their gathering and the thing that most preoccupies them as a church body. For the Romanist it’s the altar of sacrifice where in their hearts they murder and sacrifice the Lord Jesus again and again hoping to attain salvation in a different manner then He commanded.

Unfortunately for most in evangelicalism it’s the worship music. Just the term alone invokes something in my heart. Is not the singing of hymns worship? Of course but for some reason the term “worship” has been put in front of music of a certain genre.

It was at one time called contemporary Christian music but many opposed such music so the term was changed to draw in more listeners. I spoke to one man who had always been for the use of hymn music in the church until a certain point. I asked why he now used contemporary Christian music and his response was surprising. He said, “Oh it’s not called that anymore now it’s called worship music so it’s okay.” I wondered how sheepish one could be to simply change beliefs because the title of something had changed.

We are now seeing the fruit of this phase of church history as many bands are coming out as atheists, agnostics, or homosexual supporters. Some of them admitting they tricked people just so they would buy their music. One man confessed that most of the bands they played with were faking their faith too. He didn’t give any names which leaves me looking at all so called Christian bands with extreme caution. Some have proven to be reprobates by denying the Trinity (at least in an orthodox and Biblical way) and others have gone off the deep end into mystical and hyper charismatic practices.

The point before my CCM rabbit trail is that in most churches it’s singing that takes the primacy not preaching. When someone posts on social media that they had a great time of worship they mean singing. They don’t mean preaching or offering or fellowship even though all of those are forms of worship. They praise the band and the talents of the band and say very little about the God who has granted them ability.

When you walk into the church auditorium the first thing you notice is the instrument on stage. When it’s time for preaching (or as most churches do a small devotional) then and only then is a small wooden or clear podium brought out. After the service it is quickly put away and the instruments are front and center again. I’m thankful that when I walk into the auditorium at my church the first thing I notice in the middle of the platform is a big wooden pulpit. Preaching is what we are about. Preaching is the focus of our worship service. What’s yours?

For us the instruments are off to the side because the preaching of the Word of God is our utmost joy and crown. We want all eyes on the pulpit because from there God speaks through he holding forth of the faithful Word by our Pastor. The pulpit is where we are encouraged, strengthened, fed, led, and where we find a challenge to our hearts. It is where many lost people first hear of the great plan of salvation and how they can be reconciled to God. We sing three songs and worship in music but then hear an hour of preaching because that is where our strength comes from. There is power in the preaching of the Word of God.

Churches today are focused on one thing and that is song. They spend 30 to 45 minutes with their eyes closed, and hands up swaying back and forth then hear a 10 to 15 minute sermonette and leave saying they had worshiped. They find themselves weak spiritually or worse unconverted. Christian radio will get more hearers playing music then preaching because we have been so deprived of good Bible preaching that we can no longer see a need for it.

The early believers believed in preaching. In fact we never see them singing in their assemblies in the New Testament. Never, not once do we see them coming together to sing. Why? Because the emphasis to them was on: “Thus saith the Lord.”

“And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.” (Acts 20:7)

Preaching is God’s method of saving souls.

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:13-14)

“For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God…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.” (1 Corinthians 1:17-18, 21)

Paul said woe was unto him if he didn’t preach.

“For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16)

Preaching protects from errors. How many who are worship music focused have gone into error doctrinally? Well many more then those who sit under men of God with a burden who preach under the power of God.

“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2 Timothy 4:2-4)

Music comes from fallible men and can only move the emotions but he preaching of the infallible Word of God changes the soul.

“And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Timothy 3:15-17)

My intention is not to say music in church is wrong but to encourage you and your church to keep the focus where it ought to be which is the preaching of the Word of God. Don’t get sidetracked. Music will not convert the soul or change the heart. It is through preaching that God works in both saints and sinners. Keep the main thing the main thing. When you walk into your church to what is your attention drawn? Whatever it is that is the primary objective of your worship. I urge you to make it a pulpit.

“To preach Christ is to feed the soul, to justify it, to set it free, and to save it, if it believes the preaching.” Martin Luther

“The backslider likes the preaching that wouldn’t hit the side of a house, while the real disciple is delighted when the truth brings him to his knees.” Billy Sunday

“It was strictly forbidden to preach to other prisoners. It was understood that whoever was caught doing this received a severe beating. A number of us decided to pay the price for the privilege of preaching, so we accepted their [the communists’ ] terms. It was a deal; we preached and they beat us. We were happy preaching. They were happy beating us, so everyone was happy.” Richard Wurmbrand

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