“For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake." 2 Corinthians 4:2
Good preaching is the exposition of the inspired Word of God. It is authoritative in what it declares, and is under the anointing of the Spirit of God. It is designed to enable people to hear the voice of God beyond the voice of the preacher. When we take the inspired Word of God and the anointing of the Spirit of God for the purpose of hearing the voice of God, something happens. People meet with God in a deeply personal way, and lives are saved and transformed.
The only safe way to preach the Gospel is out of the text of Scripture. This does not mean using a few verses here and there to back up ideas, but that the message comes out of the text itself. Preachers who use a passage out of context to preach their own attitudes and opinions are abusing the privilege God has entrusted them with.
What people need to know is what God has revealed in the Bible. The preacher is to work on understanding it well, and to preach it in such a way that is relevant to their hearers. Paul writes to the Corinthians, "I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you" (1 Corinthians 11:23). Paul was simply the conduit God used for what He wanted to communicate to the people. I receive it, says Paul, and then I pass it on. That is the procedure.
In my early years, when I accepted a position at Capernwray Hall in England, Major Ian Thomas gave me a simple two-word job description – “Preach Christ”. Jesus Christ is the Truth to which all of Scripture bears witness to. If preaching does not lead to Christ, then it may be moralizing or philosophizing with suggested ways of becoming a better person, but it is not preaching. A good preacher will ask, “What is it I am saying about Christ? How is Christ released in this message?” The task of the preacher and of every Christian is not to bring people to Christ, but to bring Christ to people. We tell people about Jesus Christ, but we leave it in the hands of the Holy Spirit to bring them to Christ.
The Gospel is not about doing the best we can to live our lives for Christ, but about complete submission to Christ, allowing Him to live His life in us and through us. If we want to be relevant in today’s world, we must deal with the eternal, which is why the Word of God is the quarry from which we dig the truth and pass it on.