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  • Writer's pictureVic Bernales

Faithful Preaching


Francis de Sales (1567-1622), an eloquent preacher and evangelist and at one time ordained Bishop of Geneva, is known for saying "He who preaches with love preaches effectively."


Another quote attributed to Francis is a saying that goes, "The test of a preacher is that his congregation goes away saying not, 'What a lovely sermon,' but, 'I will do something!'"


I agree that sermons must not only expound the text of Scripture but also apply it in the lives of the congregation. Every person who listens to the preaching of the Word must be challenged to action by the preacher based on the words of the text.


However, if I were to restate (or rephrase) the words of Francis in the latter quote, it would read, "The test of a preacher is that his congregation goes away saying not only, 'What a lovely sermon,' or 'I will do something,' but also 'What a glorious Savior!'"


Preaching is primarily the proclamation of Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor. 1:23; 2 Cor. 4:5-6). Of course, there should be a call to action when the preacher preaches and it would be great if everyone would respond in faith and obedience to the Word preached.


But preaching, although it includes a call to respond, is not primarily our response no matter how significant that might be.


Our response of faith (or unbelief) and obedience (or disobedience), depending on the condition of our hearts, is important. But it only proceeds from the proclamation of the good news of God's redeeming work in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.


The preacher's goal is to expound and apply the text of the Scripture faithfully to the congregation, which exposition must always proclaim the wonders of God's work in the person and work of Christ. It is the Spirit's work to move the hearers to faith and obedience to Him.


When the preacher has done his part diligently and faithfully, the hearer's lack of appropriate response - faith and obedience - is due to his own heart's condition not to the preacher's ability. And in doing his part, the preacher must always proclaim Christ, His person, His work, and His call to faith and obedience to the congregation of God gathered in worship.

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