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1400. The Centrality of Preaching

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University
The Truth Network Radio
December 9, 2022 7:00 pm

1400. The Centrality of Preaching

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University

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December 9, 2022 7:00 pm

Dr. Kerry McGonigal continues a series entitled “Truth Triumphs” with a message from 2 Timothy 3:15-17.

The post 1400. The Centrality of Preaching appeared first on THE DAILY PLATFORM.

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Welcome to The Daily Platform from Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. The school was founded in 1927 by the evangelist Dr. Bob Jones Sr. His intent was to make a school where Christ would be the center of everything, so he established daily chapel services. Today, that tradition continues with fervent biblical preaching from The University Chapel Platform. Just over 500 years ago, in October 1517, Martin Luther wrote his Ninety-Five Theses, which is considered to be the beginning of the Reformation. For the next several days on The Daily Platform, we'll be studying some of these doctrines in a series called Truth Triumphs.

Let's listen to today's message, preached by Kerry McGonigal, a professor in the School of Religion. My family lives on a 30-acre horse farm, and as much as I enjoy watching the horses from a distance, my favorite part of being a farmer is the toys that you get to play with. I love my John Deere tractor, not more than I love my girls, but I do love my tractor. And I love obeying the dominion mandate in Genesis and subduing the earth with my tractor. And one of my favorite ways to do that is to attach a bush hog to the back of that tractor and to take it down into our kudzu-infested woods and just level the thing, just clear the thing out, because all you have to do is back that bush hog into a heap of brush and turn it on and boom, it's leveled. It's disintegrated.

It's amazing. You've got these huge blades whirling around in that bush hog, and it's taking out these thick bushes and these small trees. And all you have to do is pull a button. It's called the PTO, the power takeoff button.

And I don't know if you can see it there. It's the yellow button just below my right hand. All you have to do is pull that button, and the power from the engine is transmitted through this spinning shaft that runs at about 500 RPMs, and it turns whatever implement you happen to have on the back of that thing.

So you pull the button, power takeoff, and bam, you've got power. As we think about the Reformation, it's easy to get distracted and miss who or what the true hero of the Reformation is, because the reality is the hero of the Reformation is not the likes of Martin Luther or John Calvin or any of the other reformers. And what I'd like to do today in our time together is just make a case for this idea, and that is that the Reformation was Reformational because it simply uncovered and then unleashed the corrective power of the Bible through courageous Christ-centered preaching, expository preaching. It's like these guys that we are talking about during the Reformation period, they found the PTO. They found the button, and they were willing to pull it, even though it meant putting them up against the likes of the huge Roman Catholic ecclesiastical machinery of their day. The power of the Word was unleashed through a faithful rediscovery of proper interpretation of and then proclamation of the Word of God.

The world was changed. So the reformers didn't invent preaching. They simply rediscovered what truly transformational preaching is. Some have said the Reformation was a recovery of biblical preaching. So what I'd like to do is, during our time together, is work through several characteristics of Reformational preaching, not just preaching that characterized the Reformation of church history but preaching that continues to reform, preaching that continues to transform. What does this kind of preaching look like? And what I'd love for you to be able to do at the end is to really value, as Dr. Pettit said, and prioritize and insist on this kind of preaching, especially within the context of our local churches. So would you turn with me to 2 Timothy 3 this morning? We're going to see that Reformational preaching is, first of all, convictional.

It's rooted in, driven by certain fundamental foundational convictions. Secondly, Reformational preaching is consecutive. We'll talk about the consecutive exposition of the Word of God. Reformational preaching is church-centered. It brings the Bible and the preaching of the Scriptures back into the church.

It is corrective in nature. It is contextual or prophetic. And it is ultimately Christ-centered. So let's begin here with preaching as convictional. Reformational preaching is convictional. The way the Reformers preached was based on what they believed to be true about the Bible, what the Bible is, and what the Bible does. In other words, where did their boldness come from?

Where did their courage come from? It came from, it stemmed from their convictions. So let's talk about what the Bible is. I had you turn to 2 Timothy 3. Look at verse 16, this familiar text where Paul says, all Scripture is given by inspiration of God. And in the original language, as you may know, those words translated, given by inspiration of God, mean God breathed. God is the source of all Scripture.

It is the breath of God. And a corollary truth to that is, because the Bible is sourced in God, because God never lies, then the Bible doesn't lie. The Bible is inerrant.

So it's more reliable, more trustworthy than any pope or any bishop or any church tradition or church creed or even the church itself. The Bible is the breath of God. And the Reformers also believed what Scripture teaches, and that is the Bible is the voice of God when it is preached.

In the second Helvetic confession, which was written in 1562 by one of the Swiss Reformers, Heinrich Bollinger, it's discussing what are the central beliefs emphasized in the Reformation period. And in regards to preaching, Bollinger wrote, the preaching of the word of God is the word of God. Now that doesn't mean that the words, the human words of the human preacher have the same authority or are the same standard as the word of God. But whenever the word of God is faithfully interpreted and faithfully communicated, that is the word of God.

That is the voice of God. Paul writing to the believers in Thessalonica chapter 2 verse 13 says, for this cause, also thank we God without ceasing because when you receive the word of God, which you heard of us, so was the word of God preached, he says, you received it not as the words of men, but as it is in truth. What it actually is, is this, the word of God. The word which you heard of us, not the words of men, but the very word of God. And when Peter writes in 1 Peter chapter 4 to all believers talking about their spiritual gifts, he says, as every man has received the gifts, even so minister the same one to another as stewards of the manifold grace of God.

Now he says if any man speaks, okay, if your giftedness falls underneath that category of speaking, let him speak as the oracles of God, as the very words of God. So if you're going to speak in a Christian context, and you're going to do it in a way that brings God glory, then you become the representative of God's words in that moment, in that context. One author put it this way, where the word of God is faithfully taught, the voice of God is authentically heard.

What's the key word in that quotation? Where the word of God is faithfully taught. The fact that the Bible is being used doesn't necessarily mean that it's accurate, but if the word of God is being properly handled, properly interpreted, then in that moment when the word is being preached, it's the voice of God speaking. Catholic biblical expository preaching is a re-presentation of the voice of God. It's as if we're letting God speak again.

We're re-presenting the word. And because you can't separate God from his word, God is active in the preaching of his word. God is present powerfully in the preaching of his word. He's present in grace.

He's present in judgment. So preaching is more than me just standing up here and explaining a passage of Scripture in some kind of academic way. True biblical preaching is letting the voice of God loose, letting God speak so that his voice is authentically heard. The word of God is living and powerful, the author of Hebrews says.

It's sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit and of the joints and marrow and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. This is serious business what we do when we preach God's word. So Reformational preaching is convictional.

What the Bible is is necessarily linked to what the Bible does, right? So you think about it this way. My tractor, my John Deere tractor can only do, it's only capable of doing what the engine is capable of putting out. In other words, I can only do what the horse powers allow me to do.

So let me ask you this question. What is God's word capable of doing? What is God's word capable of doing recognizing that it is his breath and it is his voice?

I mean think about what happened in Genesis when God spoke. What the Bible does. So we talked about what the Bible is. Look at verse 15 of chapter 3. Their conviction was rooted in what scripture is, the voice of God, the breath of God. And then verse 15, what the Bible is capable and able to do.

The Holy Scriptures verse 15 are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. And then verse 16, for believers all scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable. You see how it just flows from what the Bible is, the breath of God, to its profitability, its usefulness in four particular areas. It's profitable for doctrine, it's profitable for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.

So that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly equipped, thoroughly outfitted, nothing lacking, nothing missing to do everything God has purposed you to do. So doctrine, the Bible shows us what is right. Instruction, reproof, the Bible shows us what isn't right about us. Correction, the Bible shows us how to get it right. And then instruction in righteousness, the Bible shows us how to keep it right. So it shows us the standard, what's right.

It shows us where we fall short of that standard. It tells us how to correct that and get back to where we need to be and how to sustain that through discipline, training, and righteousness. So from beginning to end, the Bible is sufficient for reformation. It's what the Bible is and what the Bible does that demands, it demands its persistent public proclamation. In fact, you see that logic if you look at Paul's letter here. Chapter end ends with Paul's theology of Scripture. All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable. And then it flows right into chapter four verse two.

What do you do with that word? What do you do with the Scriptures? Paul tells Timothy, preach the word, herald the word as a representative of the king. So in other words, if we want reformation, if we want transformation, if we really value that, then we must herald the means.

We got to pull the button and let the power loose through the word. For the Reformers, the Bible was the ultimate standard. It was the ultimate governor for life. So what God said in the Bible mattered. It had weight. And it was critical that man live not by bread alone, can you finish this, but by, what does he say? Every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.

Every word. And that conviction was reflected in their practice of giving attention to the whole counsel of God. All that God had said.

In the way that God said it. What God said was so important that they were willing and eager to examine it from start to finish, book by book, chapter by chapter, section by section, paragraph by paragraph, line after line. So Reformational preaching, secondly, is consecutive. That's what I mean in part by my big idea when I said that the corrective power of the Bible was unleashed or is unleashed through courageous Christ-centered expository preaching. Expository preaching is a word that gets used a lot.

It's used in different ways. Sometimes it refers to a philosophy of preaching, which basically is, say what the Bible says. That's expository preaching. That's expository preaching philosophically, but then it takes form and expresses itself in certain methods, and one of those methods is a consecutive exposition of the text of Scripture over time to the people of God. The Reformers were convinced the best way to unleash the power of the Bible was to say what God said, to say all that God had said, and to say it in the way God said it. God revealed himself in books, and he revealed himself section after section, piece after piece, and we have the whole counsel of God.

So nowhere is that conviction more evident than in their commitment to consecutive exposition. Haldrick Zwingli, who was one of the Reformation leaders in Switzerland, he began his pulpit ministry in Zurich January 1st, 1519, and when he did, he abandoned the lectionary. He abandoned the use of prescribed texts, and he just started working his way book by book through the New Testament and then eventually Old Testament. He started with Matthew, and then he went to Acts, and then he preached through 1 and 2 Timothy, and then Galatians, and then the Psalms, and then the Pentateuch, just unleashing the Word of God book by book, text by text. The French Reformer John Calvin preached over 4,000 sermons during his time in Geneva, and his preaching, you can look at it, his preaching is characterized by sequential, consecutive, text-driven preaching. That's the kind of preaching that was rooted in their convictions and that changed the world. Now I'm not saying that's the only kind of preaching. I believe that there are other legitimate forms of preaching, like topical preaching, what I'm doing this morning, but for the overall health of a church, for the well-being of a church, it is in the best interest of that church to look at God's Word carefully as God has revealed it over time, book by book, chapter by chapter, in conjunction with other forms and kinds of preaching. And then thirdly, Reformation preaching is church-centered.

And by that I mean a couple of things. First, the Reformers brought preaching back into the church. Previous to the Reformation, a lot of the preaching took place out in fields or out in town squares, and it was done on special occasions, but now the preaching was brought back into the church. Secondly, the Reformers brought the pulpit back into the center of that place where the church met. In other words, instead of being off to the side and having the altar at the center of the building, now they moved the pulpit furniture to the center and elevated it to say, this is what's really important.

This is what we're primarily about. And third, the Reformers brought preaching back to the people of the church. So no longer are the services held in Latin a language that people didn't understand.

The Reformers believe that teaching people from the Bible in a language that was their own was a priority, and they persisted in it. So it's not just, it's not enough just to give people pictures through stained glass images. People need to hear the preached word. And then fourth, the Reformers restored preaching to a place of priority within the church's worship service. So not only did they move the pulpit furniture and redesign, overhaul the interior design, but they also highlighted preaching as central in their gatherings. The sermon was at the center of their worship. So I want to show you this real quickly if you would glance at chapter four. And you'll see in this text that I had you turn to the priority, the centrality of biblical preaching.

It's highlighted right here. Chapter four consists of Paul's final words. He says in verse seven, the time of his departure is at hand. I fought a good fight. I finished the race.

I've kept the faith. And indeed, Paul soon would be poured out as a drink offering. So what are his parting words to his son in the faith and his ministerial protégé, Timothy?

What does he highlight? What does he emphasize in this last chapter of his last preserved letter with his departure in view? Well, verses two through five consist of nine imperatives, nine commands. And the last one in verse five is the summary of them all.

So here's the conclusion. The King James reads, make full proof of your ministry, Timothy. He's telling him, fulfill your ministry. Discharge all the duties of your ministry. Well, what duties does Paul have in mind here?

Well, in the immediate context, he's thinking about those first eight. Let's read this together beginning at verse one. I charged thee before God and the Lord Jesus Christ who shall judge the living and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom. Preach the word. That's number one.

Number two, be instant or ready in season out of season. Number three, reprove. Number four, rebuke. Number five, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. Because 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.

They shall turn away their ears from the truth and shall be turned unto fables. But verse five, number six, watch thou in all things. Number seven, endure afflictions. Number eight, do the work of an evangelist. Number nine, the summary command, make full proof of your ministry. So did you notice in that list which one heads the list and which one is developed then by the next four commands.

What is it? Verse two, preach the word. That's on the forefront of Paul's mind. And did you pick up something of the tone of this text, the solemnity of it?

I mean, look at how he begins with verse one. He says, in essence, I solemnly urge you in the presence of God, in the presence of Jesus Christ who will someday judge living and dead preachers, I think in context, when he appears to set up his kingdom, proclaim the message, preach the scriptures which are God-breathed and profitable. The preaching of the word of God has to be kept at the center of church life. It is the heart of church life.

Why is it so critical? Because of this point, Reformation preaching is corrective. If you look at the context of Paul's charge in chapter four to preach the word, if you go back and look at chapter three, go ahead and look at chapter three of 2 Timothy, what's the context in which he appeals to Timothy to engage in this persistently? First verse of chapter three, Paul writes, this note also that in the last days, that period of time that begins with the earthly ministry of Jesus, according to Hebrews 1, in the last days, perilous times, savage seasons shall come or be present.

Why are they perilous times? Paul explains in verses two to four. He lists out 19 representative characteristics of mankind in these last days that will challenge a faithful preaching of the word. So I just want to draw your attention because of time to the first one and then the last one.

And they kind of bookend the whole list. Look at verse two, for men shall be lovers of their own selves. End of verse four, lovers of pleasure more than or instead of lovers of God. And then you've got the prevailing spirit of these last days in verse five. You see the same spirit entering the church of Jesus Christ today, having or holding along with the characteristics that he just named, having an outward form of godliness, true religion, Christianity, but denying the power thereof. Now, do you think these people that are described here are going to endure, they're going to put up with biblical preaching for very long?

No. And that's why I look at chapter four, verse two again. Notice the fourth, the third, the fourth, the fifth commands that Paul gives in his final charge to Timothy. They're going to be seasons when people even within the visible church who will not endure biblical preaching because it has this corrective nature to it, but Timothy was to persist in reproving and rebuking and exhorting. He was to work with the word in doing what the word does. He was to convince people of their error and their wrongdoing.

He was to go beyond just saying you're wrong to rebuking them, to saying stop it, stop living like that, and then to exhort them as a father to come alongside them and urge them, appeal to them to live the way they knew they were supposed to live. So to preach the Bible faithfully and persistently is to preach it correctly. And so that's why this kind of preaching is reformational. It is transformational because we believe in semper reformanda. We believe in always reforming according to scripture. That's why we keep asking the question, is this biblical? Because the Bible is our ultimate governor and our ultimate standard.

C.S. Spurgeon, who was not a reformer, but he said that the word of God can take care of itself. He described it like a lion and he said, look at those people over there trying to protect that lion in the cage.

You don't need to protect it. You just need to let it out. He says, let the Lord of the forest come forth. Who will dare to encounter him?

What does he want with your guardian care? Let the pure gospel go forth in all its lion-like majesty and it will soon clear its own way and ease itself of its adversaries. Let the lion loose. And God's appointed means for that is the preaching of his word. And the next reformational preaching is contextual. And by that I simply mean it's prophetic.

It's taking that corrective word and situating it within a particular setting and applying it with force, bringing it to bear upon the lives of the people in front of you. And you see that in the reformers. They were taking the truths of the gospel and they were going up against the adversary of Rome. They were going up against these false religious ideas and perversions of gospel truth.

They were prophetic in that nature. They were courageous to speak the word of God in their contemporary context. And of course that's what Paul is doing in 2 Timothy 3 and that's what he tells Titus to do in Crete in Titus chapter 1. And then lastly, reformation preaching is Christ centered. Paul says in Colossians chapter 1 verse 28, him we preach, that is Jesus Christ we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom that we may present every man perfect or mature in Christ. The preaching of the word, the inscripturated word necessarily means the preaching of the incarnate word Jesus Christ. To proclaim the message is to proclaim the Messiah Jesus. And the reformers were committed to the preaching of the glory of God, the glory of the gospel in the face of Jesus Christ. And perhaps here more than any other area, we in our present day need a reformation in preaching. To not just preach academically, not just preach from the head to the head, but preach Jesus Christ crucified and risen again.

Christ is present powerfully in the preaching of His word. So let me encourage you to value what we need and what we want. We want reformation, we want transformation.

So we have to pull the button. We have to pull the PTO and unleash the power through preaching that is courageous and Christ centered and expository. Let's pray. Father we ask for your grace to magnify what you have magnified. To set forward in ways that are helpful and transformative, the truths of scripture. We pray that Jesus Christ would be magnified in our churches. That we would continue to prioritize the proclamation of the gospel.

That we would no way diminish what you have appointed as the means by which you accomplish your purposes. And we pray for a continuing reformation in our own hearts and lives. A continuing reformation in our churches. A continuing reformation in this world as we are faithful to the task, as we fulfill our duties and responsibilities as Christians. God glorify yourself through the preaching of the word. In Jesus name, Amen. You've been listening to a sermon preached by Kerry McGonigal of the Bob Jones University Religion Faculty. Join us again next week as we conclude this study series on the reformation here on The Daily Platform.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-09 20:50:31 / 2022-12-09 21:00:30 / 10

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