While preaching is a term most often used in religious settings, it happens in all areas of our lives. At work, at home, or on television, “preaching” happens whenever someone earnestly advocates for their position.
But preaching, as understood by the church, is much more specific. In the New Testament, preaching is not just a general term attached to any argument but is consistently found in reference to specific content. That content is Jesus.
In Matthew 4:17 we read that Jesus “began to preach” about the kingdom he had come to bring. In Acts and in Paul’s letters, when we find preaching, we usually also find gospel, a word that had become shorthand for all that had been and would be accomplished in and through Jesus.
So, the what of Christian preaching is Jesus. And the when? It’s in the weekly gathering of God’s people and in the everyday scattering Monday to Saturday. Preaching is any public pronouncement of Jesus. In the New Testament, we find examples of preaching in formal gatherings (Luke 4:4, 20:1) and also “from house to house” (Acts 5:42).
Now we know the what and the when, so what about the why? Why does preaching Jesus actually matter? Let me give you two fundamental reasons:
Preaching Jesus matters because it saves.
Something amazing and mysterious happens when a preacher gets up to proclaim Christ: people who hear and believe the message are saved. In Romans 10:14 Paul famously asks, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?”
It isn’t the rhetoric employed, the examples used, or the new tie worn that convinces people to surrender their lives to Christ. Rather, it is the Spirit of God using the preached word “to shatter the hardness of the human heart in ways no stage technique or philosophical construct can rival” (Bryan Chapell, Christ-Centered Preaching).
Consider Romans 1:16 where Paul says the gospel is the power of God for everyone who believes. Paul is saying, “I might not be the best rhetorician you’ve ever heard, but that’s OK because the real, explosive, life-changing power is not in my speaking style, but in my Spirit-empowered message.”
At Christ City we want people to encounter Jesus in our gatherings in a way that brings them from life to death, from darkness to light. That’s why every Sunday we must preach Jesus.
Preaching Jesus matters because it sanctifies.
The pattern for preaching as outlined in Scripture is not a one-time event but an ongoing thing. Preaching not only saves people but continues to mould them into the image of Jesus as they, enabled by the Spirit, submit themselves to obeying the preached Word.
Consider Paul’s exhortation to Timothy:
“…preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:2-5)
Here we see that the preached Word is good for “reproof,” “rebuke,” “exhortation,” and for guarding the truth against that which “itches ears.”
All of this presupposes that both the preacher and the hearer don’t stand over the preached word but under it. As Bryan Chapell writes, “Scriptural truth is not a passive object for examination and presentation. The Word examines us.”
We see this vividly in the story of David and Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 11-12. Despite the fact that David had just slept with a woman who was not his wife, and murdered her husband, there is no indication in the text of any remorse. Yet we see David say in Psalm 51—after having heard the Word of God sharply through the prophet Nathan—“Have mercy on me, O God… For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.” (Psalm 51:1-3)
Let’s ask ourselves each Sunday, “Is my heart in a place where I am going to stand over the Word? Or will I, with joy and humility, allow myself to be conformed into the image of Jesus as I sit under his examining?” May we, for the sake of ourselves and our city, answer the second.