Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, because "All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away, But the word of the LORD endures forever." Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you. 1 Peter 1:22-25
A very old problem and an ongoing problem
For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. 1 Corinthians1:17
And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:1-5
Apparently, Paul and his preaching were not well received when the apostle first preached in Corinth. He admits he was with them in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. The Corinthians were expecting Paul to speak to them as the other more famous orators of their day, with great rhetorical exhibition. “Powerful” speaking was measured in terms of its ability to entertain and to persuade using a variety of rhetorical and emotional techniques. In some cases the Greco-Roman audience didn’t care if a speaker’s words were actually true. They were more interested in a show that appealed to humanistic and fleshy expectations. Does this sound familiar?
The old Corinthian problem continues to be repeated. It is not difficult at all to find Sunday morning gatherings expecting techniques of entertainment, and sermons that draw the listener’s attention to the rhetorical skills of the speaker rather than to the glory and grace of God. “Powerful” preaching is judged primarily by how it moves the listener emotionally rather than by its communication of truth.
Paul did not come to Corinth with excellence of speech or to satisfy cultural definitions of wisdom. He simply and faithfully preached Christ and Him crucified. Paul understood powerful preaching to be the preaching of Christ not in dependence upon persuasive words of human wisdom, but in dependence upon the Spirit of God. The natural man will not, and indeed cannot, receive the things of God, and the most entertaining message will not overcome spiritual deadness or blindness. It is the Spirit of God who makes faithful preaching effective.
We want to follow in the apostle’s footsteps and faithfully proclaim God’s word while relying upon the grace of the Spirit to make the preaching effective for belief. We want our listeners to have faith in the power of God and not in the wisdom of men.
We believe that the preaching of God’s Word is God’s Word
We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth; as you also learned from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf. Colossians 1:3-7
And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. Ephesians 2:17
For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe. 1 Thessalonians 2:13
Because truly powerful preaching is the result of the blessing of the Spirit of God for the effective proclamation and believing of God’s revealed truth, then the preached Word is something more than just the words of a man. Paul was thankful for the Colossians’ faith and for the Ephesians’ faith, which was the result of the Spirit of God bringing the Word of God to them. And just how did these people hear the very Word of God? By preaching. Epaphras preached in Colossae, Paul in Ephesus. In both places it was the Word of God that was heard and believed upon. Paul is so confident in this truth that he told the Ephesians that Christ “came and preached” when Paul and his companions ministered the Word in that place. Paul is also thankful for the way in which the Thessalonians listened to and humbly received the preached Word. They received it as it really is, the Word of God.
We believe preaching is God’s ordinary means to bring the gift of faith.
For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved." How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? Romans 10:13-15
Desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby. 1 Peter 2:2
Faith is a gracious gift of God, and that grace of God is by the work of the Spirit of God who brings grace to us and enables us to believe. The Spirit ordinarily does this through the preaching of God’s Word. Paul taught the Christians in Rome that people will only call upon the Lord if they have heard of Him and they will hear of Him by preaching.
We do not assume to know a better way for the lost to believe in Christ and for believers to be strengthened other than the means of a faithful, Spirit-dependent proclamation of God’s Word.
We believe preaching is God’s means of teaching, reproofing, correcting and sanctifying His people
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom:
Preach the word! 2 Timothy 3:16-4:2
When the Scriptures are proclaimed the Word of God is being proclaimed, and God’s Word is most profitable. Ask yourself this question, “What am I hoping for when I listen to preaching?” Are you eagerly anticipating the profitability and benefits of the Word of God which He promises?
We believe that faithful preaching will be exactly how Paul told Timothy to preach. Timothy was to preach sermons that relied upon the biblical text as the very breathed-out Word of God. Timothy was to preach sermons that brought out the doctrine, the reproof, the correction and the instruction in righteousness from the biblical text he was preaching. At Heritage we are endeavoring to follow this command and to pray for the Spirit’s ministry in our preaching so that our souls may be well nourished and so that we may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ.
We believe that listening to the preaching of the Gospel is a mark of the enduring Christian
Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. Hebrews 4:1-2
Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:11-13
One of the marks of a true and enduring believer is persevering attentiveness to the preaching of God’s Word. The true believer is one who endures in mixing his or her listening with faith. Christian diligence is, among other characteristics, marked by a resolve to submit to the Word of God and to welcome its piercing evaluation of even the deepest things of our souls. We believe we prove the promise of God to preserve His saints when we endure in humbly submitting ourselves to the living and powerful Word of God. We welcome its discernment of our thoughts and the intents of our hearts. We strive to encourage one another in humble, submissive and anticipatory listening. We do so remembering that we are accountable to God and that His Word has the power to discover our true condition because it is indeed God’s Word and God Himself perceives all things. In all of this we approach His throne with boldness and ask for His blessing on our preaching and listening. We do not approach with boldness because of ourselves but because we have a great High Priest. His all sufficient sacrifice and intercession promises that we will obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.