blog at the theotryst:a blog on Jesus Christ coming to us in Word and sacrament and why we become what we receive


Preaching as God’s talk:Finding nourishment in a malnourished world

In the past year or so, I have been reawakened to the glory of preaching as God’s talk. Preaching as a means of grace. Preaching as nourishment.

After countless trips to church, it is easy to fall into a slumber of dismissing the guys at the pulpit as men talking. Men talk. We listen. Life goes on.

This slumber can worsen into apathy or sarcasm when faced with mediocre preachers who handle the Word poorly succumbing to cute short stories, or humor, or trite illustrations, and self-help/good-advice gospel to convey Jesus.  But God, amazingly, works even through mediocrity.

It is my belief, which I believe is the message of the New Testament, that God ordained preaching of the Word of God as the mechanism by which the Spirit goes forth and unites us to Christ. Not just initially upon conversion but the preaching of the Word serves as food for the saints for a life lived fully.

Now going into worship on the Lord’s day, I come with an expectation to be changed by the sermon. I come to expect a transformation.  For God to mold me and shape me after Him through His Word. And to further nourish me with Himself through the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, another means of grace.

I am excited to go to church because God has promised to be there, acting through His appointed means of grace.

I love what Michael Horton writes in his excellent book, A Better Way: Rediscovering the Drama of God-Centered Worship:

Doctrinal lectures and inspirational how-to motivational talks dominate both traditional and contemporary approaches, but both tend to undermine the even-character of the service. It is one thing to talk about the doctrines of sin and grace and another to actually be faced with God in judgment and justification. It is one thing to hear exhortations to victory and quite another to actually experience the power of being drawn into the plotline of God’s victory over our enemies (the world, the flesh, and the devil). Doctrine and exhortation will be involved in all good preaching of Scripture, but preaching can never be reduced to either…

Preaching is not merely the minister’s talk about God but God’s talk–and not just any talk. It’s the kind of talk that produces a new people. It is the encounter through which God himself takes the judge’s bench, arraigns us as sinners by the standard of perfect justice, and then finds a way, in Jesus Christ, to be both just and the justifier of the ungodly. All of this happens to us before our very ears. It is worked upon us and in us by the Holy Spirit as the Word is preached (and is confirmed visibly for us by the sacraments).

– Dr. Michael Horton, A Better Way: Rediscovering the Drama of God-Centered Worship, (2002), p. 38.

I recommend listening to sermons online by such godly Reformed men as Sinclair Ferguson, Eric Alexander, Derek Thomas, John Piper, Edward Donnelly, Ligon Duncan, Ian Hamilton, Phil Ryken, Rick Phillips, Joseph Pipa, Douglas WilsonJohn Carrick, Tim Keller, Joel Beeke, Kent Hughes, D. A. Carson, Mark Driscoll etc. Listening to these men will help you grow up into Christ.  You will find The Gospel Coalition, Sermon Audio, and Monergism to be wonderful sources as well.

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