The Way We Preach
If you’ve attended WestHill for more than a couple weeks, you’ve probably noticed that those who preach don’t preach on hot topics. We don’t check the news for the most-talked-about issue and then attempt to string Bible verses together to address it.
Our goal is that you know this book, the Bible, so that you would know the God who inspired it.
I like how Paul tells Timothy his job as a pastor, “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage with great patience and teaching.” (2 Timothy 4:2)
That priority of communicating and interpreting what God says in His word comes originally from the book of Nehemiah.
When Israel returned from the Babylonian/Persian exile, scribes taught the people the Bible. “Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, and Pelaiah, who were Levites, explained the law to the people as they stood in their places. They read out of the book of the law of God, translating and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was read.” (Nehemiah 8:7-8)
This passage doesn’t leave room for the opinions of the scribes. Their job was to read, translate, and give the meaning of the Bible. It was the people’s job to listen closely so that they would understand it.
Quite often, people prefer a different kind of sermon than the one prescribed by the Bible. They want something that speaks to their personal concerns and desires.
Paul addresses this preference specifically, “For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear what they want to hear.” (2 Timothy 4:3) This means that people typically flock to hear someone who doesn’t engage the doctrine of the Bible, but replaces it by attempting to satisfy the desires of the congregation.
That format of public speaking can tickle ears, fill the seats, and send people away impressed with the speaker, but it can’t change hearts. Only God can do that.
I am thankful that the burden of speaking to and changing people’s hearts doesn’t rest on me. This allows me to genuinely seek out the truth from God without concern for how people may react. In this way, my own heart becomes subject to God, changed by Him, and strengthened to proclaim His message.