What Is Biblical Preaching? by Andy Erwin

     Many years ago the venerable Cled E. Wallace wrote the following:

“Much is being said about the right kind of preaching and writing. Charges of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ are being bandied back and forth.  With as plain a book as the New Testament in hand, and with its abundant supply of examples of the very best preaching and writing, it ought not to be a difficult thing to determine the kind of both that should be done.  A direct appeal to the New Testament, its preachers and its writers, ought to settle any question that arises in such a connection. Men who say the most about ‘the right method of approach,’ ‘constructive articles,’ etc., betray the fact that a lot of their ideas come from modern psychology, materialistic philosophy, and sectarian sources rather than from Jesus and the apostles.  It is futile to do a lot of talking about the method of approach, when you never approach. It would improve some preachers and writers if they could forget about the method and go ahead and approach.  The main idea is getting there anyhow” (Cled E. Wallace, Bible Banner, Vol. 1, Num. 11, June 1939).

Examples of Biblical Preaching

     As you can see, this article was written in June of 1939, and it is as timely as ever.  In fact, quite a few brethren continue to rely upon “modern psychology, materialistic philosophy, and sectarian sources rather than from Jesus and the apostles” when it comes to their method of preaching.  They hide behind their false conception of Paul’s charge to “speak the truth in love” while disregarding the divinely recorded sermons he preached.  If one desires to know what Paul meant when he told us to speak the truth in love, go to the examples of his sermons and see how he did it.  Moreover, go and learn from the sermons preached by the apostles, Stephen, and our Lord Himself.

What Is Biblical Preaching?

     In these words of encouragement to Timothy, Paul defines the subject of biblical preaching:

“Preach the word!  Be ready in season and out of season.  Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2; NKJV).

  • Biblical preaching demands preaching the word – whether it is popular or not.

  • Biblical preaching requires preaching doctrine or “teaching” in a way that will “convince, rebuke, and exhort” the hearer.

  • Biblical preaching appeals to the spiritual as well as the intellectual nature of man. It requires the whole of God’s word being imparted to the whole of man.

     Through biblical preaching, we address the intellect, awaken the spirit, and appeal to the will of the listener.  We encourage those listening to be “doers of the word and not hearers only” (James 1:22).  We expect them to respond faithfully to the message, but we should avoid gauging our success on the basis of their response.  We must “preach the word” regardless of how God’s divine truth may be received by our fellow-man.  The people must know that their preacher loves them; but they must also know that he loves God more.

     Biblical preaching is not just a matter of style, taste, or preference.  Whether or not one preaches the word of God is a matter of authority. That which distinguishes the message of the gospel preacher from the message of the world is the authority by which the message is spoken.  Biblical preaching is a message authorized by God (cf. Titus 2:15).  It is the only message authorized by God, as it is the word of God.

We Need Biblical Preachers

     Biblical preaching is intended to save man from his sins, but it will not always be pleasing to man.  For this very reason, preachers of the gospel and their families must be more concerned with the salvation of souls than job security.   Preachers who are more concerned with job security than the salvation of souls need to repent or get out of the way.  If a man is ministering only to his personal self-interests and job security, he is doing nothing more than “peddling the word” (2 Corinthians 2:17), “exploiting with deceptive words” (2 Peter 2:3), in order to receive “wages of unrighteousness” (2 Peter 2:13).

     A gospel preacher should never be concerned with being the most popular speaker in town or speaking only that with which the majority agrees.  Anyone can do that.  But, it takes a gospel preacher to preach the word – in season and out of season – and to return our communities, our churches, and our families to God.