“He came and preached peace to you…” (Ephesians 2:17)
In some churches, what used to be referred to as the ‘sermon’ is now called the ‘talk’? The word ‘talk’ suggests to me an interesting discourse such as might occur at a meeting of a local Historical Society or the W.I., whereas ‘sermon’ suggests something altogether different. Am I quibbling over a word?
In Ephesians 2:17 Paul writes that Christ “came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near”. Jesus never went to Ephesus at any point during his earthly ministry, and yet Paul asserts that he came to those Ephesians and preached peace! So, what he is saying, in effect, is that when men came to Ephesus and preached the gospel it was actually Christ himself who was preaching through them.
Preaching is a noble and holy calling; and so it matters what we call it because it matters how we regard it. It matters that we realize that when the Word is preached, it is the Lord himself speaking through his chosen instrument. What power there is in preaching!
The sermon is more than a talk. It is that event when our Lord Jesus Christ deigns to use the earthen vessel of a preacher to give to his people the priceless treasure of his truth. The Thessalonians seem to have understood this when Paul wrote of them: “when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers”.
Writing around 1658 the Puritan Paul Bayne observed: “…Paul preached to the ear, but Christ to the heart of Lydia. This must teach us to look upon Christ as the chief Prophet among us, and the chief Preacher whosoever speaketh”.
May this encourage us as we pray for Jonathan Lamb and for all who will gather at Bible Focus on September 16th. I look forward to seeing you there!