It’s Sunday morning, the Lord’s Day (Revelation 1:10), and people are preparing for worship. They expect to enjoy beautiful singing, powerful prayers and the fellowship of the Lord’s Supper. They will reach into wallets and purses and give back to God for the support of the church. But along the way they will hear a sermon. For some, it’s the low point of the service. It’s the part where they have to sit and listen. Why not just keep on singing? Everyone loves to sing! What’s the point?
It is a valid question. I think I have a valid answer.
Preaching is given by God.
For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. (1 Corinthians 1:18-21)
Preaching comes from God for the benefit of the hearers. Preachers today stand in the tradition of the ancient prophets who spoke forth the message of God. Of course the prophets received their message from God directly and often miraculously foretold the future. We can’t do that today but we can speak forth the truth of the message as revealed in Scripture. Preaching was also a part of the services of the original Christians (Acts 20:7; Acts 19:13). So we have a gift from God and an example of how that gift was used in the early church.
But what’s the point of a sermon? What good is it supposed to do? A sermon functions on at least three levels. First, the sermon gives glory to God by extolling his goodness as seen through Jesus Christ. Any preacher who does not point to Jesus Christ is wasting time.
Second, a good sermon will increase Bible knowledge. We are to know God’s word (John 8:32) and to study it (2 Timothy 2:15). Hopefully a preacher’s training and study will come through in every message and deepen the hearer’s faith and knowledge.
Third, the sermon helps the hearers deal with life. The challenges we face today are nothing new and our temptations are not unique (1 Corinthians 10:13). Bible characters faced the same problems we face. Their victories and their failures instruct us through life (Psalm 119:105). A good sermon helps people face their struggles and make wise, Bible-based decisions about life.
The preacher has an awesome responsibility to present only the truth. The pulpit does not belong to the preacher or even to the congregation. It is God’s piece of real estate. When preachers stand there and proclaim the message of truth they speak for the Almighty to the people. Did you get that? They speak for God. A preacher must preach relevant Biblical sermons to God’s people.
Hearers have a responsibility too. Listen carefully to the message, check the veracity of the message against the text of the Bible, listen for topics that address issues in your own life and tailor the lesson to your own needs.
What’s the point of the sermon? The point is to teach and train men and women to overcome the obstacles of this life and build upon its opportunities. Listen carefully and milk out every bit of truth possible. You will be blessed!