Christian preaching is not parroting.
As desirable as it is to copy a skilled communicator, and as unavoidable as it is to imitate those who have shaped us most, there is good reason for a preacher to find his own voice. Not vanity, but being true to what Christian preaching is.
Before it is heralding a message, preaching means first and foremost stewarding a message. Before we “preach the word” (2 Timothy 4:2), we should be devoted and unashamed students, “rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Before telling others what God has to say, we must hear his voice ourselves and deeply know his speaking.
What’s New About Christian Preaching
This relationship between studying and preaching, between stewarding and heralding, gets at the heart of what it means to be a pastor in the church age, the time between Jesus’s ascension and return.
Throughout history, God has used spokesmen. Long ago, at many times, and in many ways, he spoke through the prophets, but in these last days, he has spoken to us in his Son (Hebrews 1:1–2). The apostles were the Son’s inspired spokesmen in their day, and still are in their writings. And now in the days of the church, a major way in which God’s word is re-revealed to his people is through the regular, ordinary, week-in, week-out ministry of local church pastor-preachers. This is a distinct season in redemptive history in which God’s heralds have been entrusted with “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27) and with specific flocks to lead and feed.
This preaching particular to the church age is what Jason Meyer calls “pastoral preaching.” In Preaching: A Biblical Theology, he provides a whole-Bible picture of how God has worked through his spokesmen across history to bring his word to his people — and especially how that relates to preaching in the local church today.
In this new episode of Theology Refresh, Meyer challenges us to consider the task of preaching as first stewarding God’s revelation, and then heralding that revelation in such a way that the church encounters God in his word. Preachers are called to say to their flocks what God has to say, show their flocks where it comes from in the Bible, and shepherd their flocks where it leads. And, yes, it most emphatically does mean preaching the Old Testament in a distinctly Christian way — and relentlessly bringing gospel-centrality to bear in the pulpit.
For more on Preaching: A Biblical Theology, see Desiring God’s 1-minute video with Meyer.
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