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Preach the Word: Because It Is the Means God Uses to Sanctify His People

Thursday, January 23, 2014 | Comments (4)

by John MacArthur

You wouldn’t withhold food from a starving man. Nor would you deny air to a drowning child. Frankly, that kind of monstrous behavior is hard to imagine. But that’s effectively what many pastors and church leaders are guilty of today, as they withhold that which is vital to the spiritual lives of their people: God’s Word.

Pastors must faithfully preach the Word of God because it is the instrument that the Spirit uses to save and sanctify. We are born again by the Word of truth. As Jesus said in John 17:17, “Sanctify them in the truth; Your Word is truth.”  All comfort, all encouragement, all nourishment—everything—comes from the Word (cf. 1 Peter 2:1–3) through which the Spirit works (compare Ephesians 5:18–21 with Colossians 3:16–17). The Word and the Spirit are really inseparable in terms of ministry. The Spirit is the One who breathed out the very Word of God through the human instruments who wrote it (2 Peter 1:20–21), and it is His sword (Ephesians 6:17).

Leaders need to ask themselves what they want for their churches.  Do they want their people to be under the sovereign and blessed authority of God?  Do they want them under the rule and headship of Jesus Christ?  And do they want them in the midst of the powerful work of the Spirit of God?  If they do, the appropriate course of action is straightforward. Open the Bible and tell the people what it means, for the Spirit uses that truth to comfort and convict as it is conveyed to willing souls. It is even by the Word that He makes the unwilling, willing.

Pastors in particular ought to know and value the benefits that come from the study and proclamation of God’s Word.  Even if I never preached another sermon, I would thank God every day of my life for the sanctifying grace that has come to me through the daily study of His precious Word. Pastors, then, should study to know God, not just to make sermons. For me, the greatest joy of preaching comes not in the final step of proclamation but in the transformation of my own life, as the truth pervades my thinking throughout the entire process.  A sanctified preacher, known as such to his people, is a powerful instrument when he opens the Word.

So then, we preach the Word to others because it is the instrument God uses to save the lost and to sanctify His people. We also preach the Word to ourselves, because through our own study of Scripture we are likewise sanctified. And we take our sanctification seriously, lest after we have preached to others, we ourselves might somehow be disqualified (1 Corinthians 9:27).

(Adapted from The Master's Plan for the Church.)


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#2  Posted by Sterling Brown  |  Thursday, January 23, 2014at 4:43 PM

Amen!!

#3  Posted by Chris McCarthy  |  Thursday, January 23, 2014at 7:23 PM

Last summer my wife and I traveled on vacation through central California around Lake Tahoe. We visited a church on Sunday that happend to be Memorial Day Weekend. This Sunday all the veterans from Armed Serices were there and it was right to acknowledge their service. But after 30 minutes or so the pastor finally got in the pulpit to preach about the flag. The Word of God was not openend and looked at or preached from. I did not have the courage to tell this pastor I was hungry for the Word of God. But I will next time. Thanks for the clear preaching of the Word. My love for him grows as I hear.

#4  Posted by Mae Ella Jones  |  Friday, January 24, 2014at 8:16 AM

My husband and I long for a Bible preaching, teaching church to attend. But have not found one in our town. We thank God for Pastor MacArthur's clear and biblical teaching, it has been food for our continued growth in the Lord. Thank You!

#5  Posted by Sharlene McKelvey  |  Saturday, January 25, 2014at 5:40 PM

My home church was once a Bible-teaching church. When my husband and I were first saved, we realized we needed to leave the Catholic Church, which I found to describe as a 'dead church'; we knew we were not being spiritually fed. We found a wonderful church, much like GCC. Our Pastor, whose father founded the church, studied more than 40 hours a week to prepare for the 4 sermons he taught every Sunday. He was a Bible teacher much like yourself, and after hearing him teach only two Sundays, there was no doubt in our minds that we would plant ourselves and our children in that church. Our Pastor taught for almost 30 years when He left to go out into the world to teach God's Word. By that time, our church had grown so large, more than 8,000, it became necessary to build 2 more churches in nearby towns. When our Pastor left, nothing has been the same. The next Pastor was not an expository teacher; the church suffered greatly. When he left, others came in, and again, no expository teaching; the church membership changed in various ways and it has dwindled, as well. I was appalled when I recently walked in to find the Worship Center had recently been turned into what I define as a nightclub: horrible lighting, our wooden cross replaced by huge cross of glass blocks, also lighted with LED, and a rock-star guitarist accompanied by amplidfiers so loud my family and I cannot hear each other speak. Since for many months our church has been seeking a new Senior Pastor, last Fall our beloved Pastor, now in his 80's and having suffered two cancer surgeries, open heart surgery, and survived the recent death of one of his two beloved daughters, returned for two weeks of teaching. It broke my heart to see how he has aged, but I cannot begin to find words to describe the delight to hear him teach; people came back to hear him and there was no parking space available for miles; our church was once again packed with people who had been faithful to our church for years. He taught a sermon in the same manner you teach. Someone who had never known him said to me, "This is the first time in my life I ever heard a real sermon be taught." Since we have been seeking a new Senior Pastor, I pray that one might be sent from the Master's College! I know then, we would be taught the Word of God in a manner that would bring honor, glory and delight to our God. At the end of our beloved Pastor's teaching, he explained a story I had known for years: that He never intended to be a Pastor-Teacher. He had been recruited from college to play football for a National League, when his father, who was founder of our church, had suddenly died. The son reluctantly took his father's place, and for the first year, the church body (at that time a very small body of believers) was not happy with his teaching. However, as our Pastor explained, when the elders layed hands on him, they all said, "Teach the Word, David." He did and the church grew. Now it suffers. Then I found GTY. I praise God!