"Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men." (1 Cor. 1:20-25)
Preaching is the activity of a redeemed man, standing in Christ's stead, by His (Christ's) authority and in obedience to His command, proclaiming, explaining, illustrating, and strongly urging the word of God, the gospel of Christ, in such a manner as to make it possible for responsible people to understand it and accept it unto life or reject it unto death.
Preaching has also been defined as, "the authoritative proclamation of the word of the living God by living men of God in God's ordained manner of moving people to Christ and salvation and on to eternal life" (Romans 10:14-17). It is at this point that preaching differs from all other public speech and rises above secular activity. Preaching does not consist in excellency of speech or the wisdom and power of the world but in the testimony, wisdom, and power of God in His word (1 Cor. 2:1-5). It is by God's power in His word faithfully preached by faithful men that dead souls are raised from the spiritual grave to spiritual life, joy, and victory (Romans 11:13-15).
Preaching is a divine function accomplished through men. The divine message of God's love and salvation is delivered to men by a human voice fused with love for God and the souls of men. It is a proclamation in clear, understandable terms which reveals to men the heart and will of God and urges them to obey Him.
If it is not the declaration of the authoritative word of the Son of God, then it is not preaching (Gal. 1:6-9). The gospel preacher does not create facts. He is given them by the King and he must not alter them (1 Pet. 4:11). The preacher speaks as a herald announcing the message of God, declaring the facts of God's word not his own. Preaching, if it is to please God and save men, must be identical in content and spirit with the preaching of apostolic days.
Good preaching is not a parade of one's knowledge, a show of one's speaking ability, a fashion display, or an effort to build a personal following.
Good preaching is Bible-centered (2 Tim. 3:16; 4:1-2; I Cor. 2:2). It harmonizes with truth (Gal. 1:6-7). It is simple (Mark 12:37). It reveals both the awfulness of sin (Rom. 7:7, 13) and the love of God through Christ (John 3:16; Rom. 5:8).
Good preaching is well-rounded (Acts 20:20, 26-27, 31-32, 35). It accomplishes its intended purposes:
The Apostle Paul. He considered himself a debtor to all men so he sought to preach the gospel to save them (Rom. 1:14-17). He had respect for the gospel (1 Cor. 1:17; Rom. 1:16). He was honest and sincere (2 Cor. 4:1-7; Gal. 4:16). He declared that which was profitable (Acts 20:18-35). His message was limited to the will of God (1 Cor. 2:1-5; Phil. 2:5). He did not back down from those who taught things which were contrary to the doctrine of Christ (Rom. 16:17,18).
Jesus, the Master Teacher. He was prepared to teach. He knew the Law (Matt. 12:3-8; Luke 4:16-21).
He possessed the proper characteristics a preacher should have. He was:
He had proper attitudes toward His listeners. He:
Good study and preparation. Good study employs observation, interpretation, application, and communication.
Communication: How do I relate the meaning of the passage to others?
Good presentation. One must have the right attitude (2 Tim. 2:14-26) and the right motives (1 Tim. 3:5). One must be persistent and patient (2 Tim. 4:1-5), present the Bible as the word of God (2 Pet. 1:16-21), and make his conclusion personal and decisive (Acts 26:29).
Good life. The messenger of God's word must be living in accordance with God's will. He must take heed to himself and his teaching (1 Tim. 4:16). He should be an example to believers in word, conduct, love, spirit, faith, and purity (1 Tim. 4:12).
For preaching to be effective, there must be sincerity of presentation, clarity of speech, suitability of material, simplicity of lesson, and brevity of sermon.
Gene Taylor is the preacher for the Centerville Road Church Of Christ in Tallahassee, Florida