PREACH – Part 1 (Preaching and Teaching – What’s the Difference)

What is a Preacher?

Before reading this article, ponder these questions for a second.

  • What comes to mind when you hear the word “preach” or “preacher”?
  • Who, in the church, are those called to preach?
  • What is the difference (if any) between preaching and teaching?

 

Traditionally I always thought preachers were just charismatic Christian speakers. A preacher, in my understanding, was one who could pull the full range of emotional strings in an audience. They’d make you laugh, cry, and shout “AMEN!” all in one sermon. I thought that teachers, by contrast, were speakers who were a bit more dry and intellectual. Teachers in the church cared more about fleshing out the finer points of doctrine and took a more academic approach to reading the scriptures. If a sermon was particularly moving or convicting I would think “that man can preach!” If I felt more intellectually stimulated I would say “he’s more of a teacher than a preacher”. In my journey through the Bible, though, I would find these understandings of preaching and teaching to be false.

 

God’s Power to Save Rests in News

The word “Gospel” simply means “Good News”. In the biblical context The Gospel refers to the good news of Jesus defeating sin and death at the Cross and being raised from the dead to forgive all those who turn to Him in faith. Romans 1:16 tells us that The Gospel is “God’s power for salvation”. Not our good works, or a ritual, or a particular prayer, or baptism, or anything else – it’s the Gospel alone that has the power to save.

 

It’s interesting to think that our salvation rests in news; and this news must be told. The question, then, is who will tell people this news?

 

“But how can they call on Him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about Him? And how can they hear without a preacher?”

Romans 10:14

 

The Gospel is a Message to Be Proclaimed

The word “preacher” can literally be translated as herald, public crier, announcer or proclaimer. The word is used 61 times in the New Testament, and always refers to the verbal proclamation of the Gospel of Christ. Some argue that we are to “preach the gospel always, and when necessary, use words”. Though that’s a nice sentiment, it’s impossible (and unbiblical) to assume that we can preach the gospel any other way than using our words. The Gospel is not simply a philosophy to appreciate and live by – The Gospel is a message to be proclaimed.

 

So, Who Are the Proclaimers?

So we’ve established that the Gospel is a message to be proclaimed (or news to be announced); and the preacher is the one who proclaims the news. Who, then, are these proclaimers of good news? Who are the preachers?

 

“Then He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation.””

Mark 16:15

 

­The Great Commission has been recognized as the marching orders of the church for over 2000 years. As followers of Jesus we are all called to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19), and as we saw in Romans 1:16 and 10:14 the only way a disciple is made is through the proclamation of the Gospel. Therefore, the call to believe is also a call to preach.

 

“And since we have the same spirit of faith in keeping with what is written, I believed, therefore I spoke, we also believe, and therefore speak.”

2 Corinthians 4:13

All to Preach, Some to Teach

Not many should become teachers, my brothers, knowing that we will receive a stricter judgment…”

James 3:1

 

In explaining spiritual gifts to the church in Corinth, the Apostle Paul explains that “there are different gifts, but the same Spirit…” He then explains how each Christian is like a different body part, functioning in its own individual way to benefit the rest of the body. He asks the rhetorical question, “are all teachers?” with the assumed answer being no (see 1 Corinthians 12). In his letter to Timothy, Paul gives qualifications for leaders in the church, specifically elders and deacons. The primary difference between elders and deacons is that elders should be able to teach – a requirement not imposed on deacons (see 1 Timothy 3).

 

Biblically speaking, my previous idea of preachers being charismatic and teachers being academic was false. If someone is speaking to the church, reading from the scriptures and explaining what the text means and how it applies, they are teaching. There are many different flavors of teachers and teaching styles because there are many different flavors of people. Some teaching styles may be more charismatic, others more scholastic. Some styles are better than others, and some are just different. But it’s important to know the difference between preaching and teaching so that we avoid the mistake of thinking the role of a preacher is reserved for a select few.

 

Most Christians are not called to teach in the church because teaching is a high calling that requires a stricter judgement. Though the bible is clear that not all are called to teach in the church, it is equally clear that all Christians are called to preach the gospel to the world.

 

In Conclusion

To preach is to proclaim, and the teach is to explain. The teaching ministry is reserved for a select few in the church, but the preaching ministry is given to all. The Gospel is the central message of Christianity and every recipient of it has been commissioned by Christ to proclaim it; consequently the call to believe is also a call to preach. Therefore, GO!

 

GO! Introduction

An 8-part journey designed to move the church to PREACH the TRUTH with CLARITY, CONVICTION, and COMPASSION.

 

Introduction

Early on in my Christian walk I became passionate about sharing the Gospel. About a year or so into my faith I started to hit the streets on a weekly basis to intentionally talk about Jesus with strangers. When you routinely share the Gospel, it’s easy to treat it just like that – a routine. I would prepare tirelessly: watching videos, reading books, learning new methods. In my preparation I memorized a few different presentations, I had common objections and rebuttals nailed down and I was ready! Before I knew it, I was regurgitating a canned, scripted Gospel performance that seemed to come out with no emotion or conviction. I effectively grew numb in my presentation of the Gospel that saved my soul and transformed my life.

 

That’s when I started preparing my heart, more than my mind. I would spend more time praying that God would break my heart with the truth of the Gospel. I prayed that God would allow me to preach it as if it were my first time. In my prayer closet is where the phrase that is the mission statement for this series came from. Here is why each word of that prayer is important to me:

  • I knew that if I was going to preach, I wanted to preach the truth. Not my truth (as if there was such a thing), but God’s truth. Laying aside my presuppositions and learned theology, I wanted to accurately preach what God has revealed in scripture.
  • However, in my study of God’s truth I noticed myself becoming more philosophical and my Gospel presentation would become more complex. The Gospel is simple, and I was often over-complicating it, adding unnecessary stumbling blocks for my hearers. So, I prayed that God would allow me to preach the truth with clarity so that those I would preach to could understand.
  • Not only did I want to present the Gospel clearly, I wanted to preach with the same conviction that drove me to repentance the day I was saved. After sharing the gospel 100’s of times I often sounded apathetic. I prayed that God would amaze me afresh with the truth of the Gospel, and reignite the conviction in my presentation.
  • However, conviction from a loveless heart comes off as arrogant, prideful, and calloused towards the individual. When faced with opposition, I became proud and arrogant and often wanted to win the battle of the argument at the expense of the war over their soul. That’s why I prayed for God to allow me to share His compassion for the people He would call me to.

 

So that’s been my prayer for the last several years. “Lord, help me to preach the truth with clarity, conviction and compassion.” Each discussion topic in this series revolves around each of the key words in the prayer. Here’s an overview.

 

PREACH pt. 1

The Gospel is a message to be proclaimed, not merely a standard to live by. The Great Commission is for everyone – not just pastors and ministry leaders. While not every Christian is called to teach in the church, all believers are called to preach to the world.

 

PREACH pt. 2

The painful reality is that only 1/3 of the world’s population professes faith in Christ, which means that approximately 100,000 people enter Hell every day! There are at least three reasons Christians don’t share the Gospel: 1) They Don’t Care To, 2) They Don’t Know How To, 3) They Are Afraid To. We’ll explore each in this discussion.

 

TRUTH pt. 1

“What is truth?” This was Pontius Pilate’s famous question when Jesus said that He came “to testify to the truth”. We are living in a world that is becoming increasingly more offended at the idea that there is a singular truth that belongs to God and is not left up to man to determine. In this discussion, we’ll look at what the bible says about truth, and what our responsibility as a church is, in light of the truth.

 

TRUTH pt. 2

The Gospel is the most important truth there is because it is “the power of God unto salvation”. The word “Gospel” simply means “Good News”, but the Good News is only rightly understood with a proper understanding of the Bad News. Far too often Christians are quick to talk about the Good News without setting the stage with a proper understanding of the Bad News, thus taking away from how amazing the Gospel truly is. In this discussion, we’ll look at the beauty of the Gospel in stark contrast to the dark backdrop of man’s fallenness.

 

TRUTH pt. 3

What happens when there are objections to the proclamation of the truth? How are we to respond? The bible is clear that we are to “always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you”, but how are we to do this? Giving a defense of the faith is known as apologetics. There are two popular approaches within Christianity as to how to “give a defense” of the truth claims of the bible – classical apologetics, and presuppositional apologetics. In this discussion, we will explore both.

 

CLARITY

It’s our responsibility to lead people to the cross, it’s God’s responsibility to put them on it. It is not our obligation to make anyone believe the gospel – that is a work of God that He alone does through the faithful preaching of the gospel. However, no matter what context you find yourself in, it’s important to preach the truth with clarity so that your hearers can comprehend the message you are relaying. Jesus came as a man speaking a language that people understood and preached sermons using illustrations people could relate to. We, too, should seek to proclaim the gospel in words and ways that our context can understand and relate to, without compromising the essentials. In this discussion we’ll explore the concept of contextualization.

 

CONVICTION

We mustn’t present the gospel as a tired, scripted, canned message that we bottle up and regurgitate the same way every time we preach it. People believe those who are thoroughly convinced of what they’re proclaiming. Paul told the Corinthian church, “My speech and my proclamation were not with persuasive words of wisdom but with a powerful demonstration by the Spirit, so that your faith might not be based on men’s wisdom but on God’s power.” This is a power that we cannot find in-and-of ourselves – it comes from God. This discussion will compel us to seek God for the power to proclaim His message “with a powerful demonstration by the Spirit”.

 

COMPASSION

There’s a popular truism “people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care”. The Bible says “lust us not love in word or speech, but in action and truth”. The message of the gospel is always preceded and followed by genuine love for the people we’re reaching out to. In this discussion, we’ll explore what the bible says about compassion, and how it directly correlates to our proclamation of the truth.

 

Thank you for taking this journey with me. I pray that through it, God would do amazing things.

Sean