I have been privileged to meet Ian Hamilton. He is a godly man, a gifted writer, and an excellent speaker. He is gracious as well. One of my favorite parts of Ian Hamilton is his prayers. However, in the monthly Banner of Truth Magazine, Mr. Hamilton asks and answers the question, “What is preaching?”
Of course, in these days, everyone has a variety of opinions on what preaching is. Hamilton offers five clarifications, based upon 2 Timothy 4:2, that I believe are helpful and needed.
“FIRST, PAUL HIGHLIGHTS THE ESSENTIAL CONTENT OF PREACHING”
Hamilton writes, “Many Christians are languishing spiritually because they are being starved of the teaching that alone can build them up in their most holy faith.” (2) This almost seems axiomatic, but sadly, it is not. Preaching is not about our lives, it is about Scripture’s implications for our lives. Preaching is not about stories, it is about the Story. Preaching must stem from God’s Word.
“SECOND, PAUL HIGHLIGHTS THE URGENT NATURE OF PREACHING”
Preaching should be urgent, because it is an eternal life-or-death matter. If people are to hear the Gospel, it must be preached with urgency. It is not story time with the preacher. It is preaching Christ, and Him crucified. Again, Hamilton offers stinging words, “Humour that is designed to put the hearers at their ease and placard the personality of the preacher should be avoided like the plague!” (5)
“THIRD, WHOEVER THEN IS CALLED, LIKE TIMOTHY, TO PREACH THE WORD IS TO DO SO NOT CASUALLY, FLIPPANTLY, DISPASSIONATELY”
There is an inherent importance in preaching. If you were to browse through some of the more popular preachers today, you would find the exact opposite of this. Preachers will do all sorts of acrobatics and theatrics to help “bring home the message.” But this flippant manner demeans the glorious Gospel message.
“FOURTH, PAUL HIGHLIGHTS THE PRESSING PASTORAL APPLICATION THAT LIES AT THE HEART OF AUTHENTIC GOSPEL PREACHING”
Hamilton clarifies, “The ultimate aim in preaching the word is not merely to inform and educate the hearers’ minds, but to see their lives transformed increasingly into the likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:29, God’s ultimate purpose for his people.” (5)
Fifth (?) “IT IS ONLY TOO EASY TO BE DISTRACTED AND DIVERTED FROM THE WORK OF THE MINISTRY” (7)
I put a question mark on this one because it was not as clear. However, the point deserves to be included here due to its emphasis. The preacher’s work is ministry, and more than helping the homeless, meeting with people in the community, and other such duties, the preacher is first and foremost, a preacher.
Excerpts from The Banner of Truth Magazine, June 2018
I would encourage you to subscribe to The Banner of Truth magazine. This June 2018 edition is marvelous (as are all of them).