In the light of (or should that be in the darkness of) Kanyarism, what might the church do? First, beware the double danger. Second, search our culture, society, business world and own hearts for wider issues behind all this. Third, and most important, as Harrison Mungai has long argued, we should fight darkness with light, error with truth, false gospels with the true gospel. In his feature for Conversation Magazine, Harrison finds great lessons and challenges from the preaching of the Puritans in even more tumultuous times…
An article I recently came across laments the growing decline of the centrality of preaching in many people’s hearts and in many churches. In so many churches preaching has lost its prominence. Not that it does not happen but that it is not the main focus. Often preaching is reduced to entertainment, news-casting, motivational talk or education. This sadly reflects a lack of trust in the authority of Scripture and priority of preaching. At the beginning of his ministry Jesus said to his disciples in Mark 1:38:
“Let us go somewhere else – to the nearby villages – so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.”
Paul made it clear that it was through the foolishness of preaching that God displayed his grace and nullified the wisdom of this world (1 Cor. 1:18). His last word as an old man, ready to leave this world, to Timothy was short and to the point: ‘Preach the Word’ (2 Tim. 4:2).
Since God has not changed and man has not changed, Christ’s command to preach still stands. Man’s dilemma is still the same since the fall of Adam – SIN – and God did not choose any other way to address man’s problem other than the preaching and proclamation of his Word.
In the most challenging times in the history of the world, God raised up great preachers of the Word to stand their ground and provide answers by strong biblical preaching that changed the course of history – men like Chrysostom, Augustine, Luther, Calvin, the Puritans and many others. They had one thing in common: The centrality of preaching.
Dr. J. I. Packer once made a statement that the Puritans were strongest where Protestants today are the weakest and that is in preaching. He called them ‘God’s Giants.’ This they truly were. But is this statement correct? How did they view preaching in their day and why did they make such an impact on their society? Let’s examine our preaching in the light of how they viewed preaching:
- Good preaching to them was the primary means of God’s grace to man. It was the highlight of public worship. Through the preaching the Holy Spirit would apply the Word in power to save people from their sins. It is primarily through the preaching of the Word that believers are built up in their faith. Even in our knowledge-exploding world, God still uses the foolishness of preaching to accomplish the salvation of man.
[For 4 more key aspects of faithful Bible preaching read this article in Conversation Magazine Issue 2.]