Over your lifespan, without a doubt, the greatest benefit to your soul will be the preached Word. In the preached Word, an ordained minister opens and declares the Word of God. In that moment, the Son of Man himself breathes spiritual life into dead men, wields His two-edged sword to slay sin and the devil, and brings the Father’s word delightful words of comfort to the children of God. Nothing in our world can compare to the preached word of God.
Netflix, novels, and the net may suck us away from reality and captivate our imagination, but preaching brings us back to reality. Preaching tells us men and women who they are. But preaching does not leave men and women where they are. In preaching, God makes men and women like Him. Trinity Presbyterian Church cannot recommend that you commit yourself to the week-by-week discipline of sitting under the preached Word.
God’s Part, Your Part
If the preached Word is so important, then a fair question we should be asking is, “How do we benefit most from the preached Word?”
You should attempt to prepare for the preached Word. For simplicity, let’s think about preparation for the preached word in two parts.
Your part: You should try to be rested. Read the passage to be preached ahead of time. Review your notes from last week. In prayer, ask the Lord to speak to you through the preached Word.
God’s Part: Plead for God to do that. Nothing is more essential than the Holy Spirit administering the Word’s work in you. This takes prayer as only God can transform and sanctify the hearts of His people.
But that is not all. The benefit of the preached word goes beyond the sermon. After God does his part, and we hear the preached Word by faith, we are to lay it up in our hearts and practice it in our lives. After we hear a sermon, we should return to God in prayer, asking Him to guide us further into its clear meaning. We must then do our part to return to the verses and the key phrases and points we heard and attempt to conform our lives, particularly to the will of God.
But Wait, There’s More
As cerebral and text-based as the reformed (biblical) faith is, our faith is also remarkably tactile and enfleshed. Another way to get more benefit out of the preaching of the Word is to employ the ordinances that Jesus prescribed. Go read Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22, 1 Corinthians 11, and Matthew 28. In order to supplement the preached Word, the Lord Jesus commanded the church to observe two physical additions to the preached Word: baptism and the Lord’s Supper. At every worship service, our church will either apply baptism to a covenant child or new believer, or the whole body will break the bread and drink the wine, as we, by faith, feast on the body of our Lord and drink of the new covenant in his blood.
Attached to the receiving of the word Word of God should be the sacraments. As His covenant people, we are nurtured to better receive the preached Word by the signs and seals of the covenant of grace: baptism and the Lord’s Supper. They represent the preached Word for us to see, handle, taste, and smell the Word we have heard.
As we said above, nothing is more important for our souls than this weekly rhythm of resting from all worldly employments and endeavors to gather with God’s people to receive the preached Word and to receive the “visible words” of the sacraments. This is the church’s principal task! No other institution is given this responsibility of shepherding God’s flock by the Word, sacrament, and discipline. Therefore, if your church cares for your soul in this way we rejoice with you. However, if your church does not give you these things, it is tragically becoming an instrument of your demise.
That may sound harsh and uncharitable, but the reality is far worse. Sin, the devil, and the world are nefarious. Legalism and license are like toxic carcinogens in the air we breathe. The smog of legalism and license blinds us from seeing the glory of Jesus even while it is everywhere present before us. Our spiritual veins are blocked and the life-giving benefits of the blood of Jesus are restrained if we do not have the preached Word and sacraments. We will wither without God’s word.
What Is The Church’s Greatest Task?
Every child of God needs the Holy Spirit to renew his or her body and soul principally by the preached Word and sacraments. As we close this blog, you might consider this summary. The preached Word brings us the benefit of hearing God’s word, and not the bare hearing of it, but the Word itself creates and renews spiritual fruit from our union with Christ by faith. The Word received in the sacraments helps us to feel the presence of God as we experience communion or the fellowship of love that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit know and communicate to the church.
Trinity Presbyterian Church of Norman is a congregation of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. Our mission is to gather and perfect the saints in Norman, Oklahoma, and beyond. We gather for Sunday morning worship at 10:30 a. m. with discipleship classes prior to the service at 9:30 a. m. We also gather throughout the city for mid-week fellowship and small group bible studies. If you are local we invite you to join us, if you are reading from afar, please lift up our church in prayer that we may have the strength to comprehend the breadth and length and height and depth and know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge being filled with all the fullness of God.