Monday 3 September 2012

The Marks of the Church (Part Four)

Preaching Must Give a Sense of the Presence of God!

There is so much to say about the preaching of pure doctrine that it is hard to know how much to include on this blog series. Recently, someone spoke to me about their search for a good church. They explained that they visited one church which has a good evangelical reputation and yet this person remarked to me something interesting. They said that "There was nothing wrong with the church, everything was sound, and yet there was something missing".

Over the recent months I have been thinking very much about what that "something" could be. I discussed this with one of my fellow Presbyterian ministers and he suggested that what was missing was a 'sense of the presence of God'. He went on to explain that if we do not understand what worship is, an activity that is to be conducted before a holy God, and not simply as a good Christian habit or for evangelism, then a 'sense of God' will be missing.

A number of years ago I heard Professor Ted Donnelly preach for the first time. I came home and told my wife that as I heard him preach, it seemed as if I was being brought before the very throne of God. Now that is preaching! In conclusion, we want sound doctrine to be preached, but preaching that is believed to be the 'high point of Christian worship'. This needs to be understood by the elders and the congregation. Understanding this can transform the worship of a church.

John Calvin made these statements several centuries ago:

‘God governs his church by the external preaching of the Word’.

‘Why is the preaching of the gospel so often styled the kingdom of God, but because it is the sceptre by which the heavenly King rules his people?’.

‘The preaching of the gospel, which is committed to [the church], is the spiritual sceptre of Christ, by which he displays his power’.

The Book of Hebrews teaches: Let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire (Heb 12:28–29). If preaching is the high point of worship then it must be conducted with reverence, otherwise it is not being conducted in a way that is 'acceptable' to Almighty God. Let us think much on these things!

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