How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
It’s a bird! No, it’s a plane! No, it’s Superman! Hopefully, I have not lost you yet. We all know that classic opening to Superman. You know that one where the onlookers think what they see is one thing only to recognize that it’s neither of those things. Rather, upon closer examination, what they see is Superman. He is easily mistaken. Superman flies like a bird and a plane, but he is by far neither of those things. Superman is something beyond those things. He is by nature neither of those things even though He shares one mark with birds and planes. Our topic in our series on liturgy is well known. We all sit through one of these things every single Lord’s Day service. So, perhaps we can illustrate this Superman opening a different way: It’s a lecture! No, it’s a life-giving talk! No! It’s preaching a sermon.
Preaching a sermon is a signature hallmark of Christian worship. If you enter a Bible-believing Christian church on Sunday you will hear a sermon. The question is: do you know what preaching is and what happens when you sit under the preached word? Do you know that preaching is the pivotal moment in a worship service? If the liturgy starts with a gust of wind, the sermon is when the water swells and crests into a magnificent wave. It is the moment when Christ’s people hear Christ’s words for them. The word is for them in the sense that Christ, through the minister of the gospel, speaks to a particular set of people and addresses their particular circumstances. You will notice I do not say that it is the pastor’s words for us. Take notice, your pastor carefully and painstakingly prepares a sermon every week because of this reality. The elders and anyone else preaching at Renovation Church carefully and dutifully expound upon only what is present in the text. Why? Because any right-minded pastor does not get up there is present their own ideas or their own wisdom. They approach the pulpit knowing and trembling at the fact that they know that Christ’s words are to be proclaimed. That much is to be made of our Triune God. That they face stricter judgment as teachers of the word. If Christ’s words are not faithfully expounded, then it is not true preaching.
This is what distinguishes preaching from other kinds of public talks. It is not a lecture in which a topic is taught in an abstract or disconnected way. As if the Bible were merely another textbook covering a topic that needed additional understanding. Preaching is not a pep-talk either. As if we simply needed an uplifting message so we can face any slurry of circumstances. Do not get me wrong, you ought to walk away from preaching having learned something about God and who you are in light of Him. You ought to walk away with some sense of purpose concerning your life. But, for preaching to be right, for it to be regarded as Christ’s words to us, it ought to be a faithful proclaiming of God’s word and nothing else. If you learn something, let it be something of the nature and character of God! If you are uplifted, let it be because of the glorious gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! If you are challenged, let it be because you were confronted with the fact that you have fallen short of perfect obedience to God’s law. If you are encouraged to continue in trust and obedience, let it be known that your encouragement is due to the fact that preaching is a means of grace in which Christ speaks and the Holy Spirit works. Do you wanna know God’s will for your life? Sit under the preached word! Do you want to receive comfort in a trial? Sit under the preached word! Do you want to grow in faith? Sit under the preached word! Do not undervalue the preached Word! There is nothing better to do on a Sunday morning. Don’t look for something else! Don’t be mistaken. Preaching is not a lecture. Nor is it a pep-talk. When it is faithful to the Bible, preaching is Christ speaking.