When it comes to preaching, most people think about the technique or style of a preacher. Does he yell or is he more reserved? Is he pacing about the stage or standing behind the pulpit? Does he wear a suit or blue jeans? Does he use a full manuscript, partial manuscript, or no manuscript? Does he preach for an hour, 45 minutes, 30? Surely he ends the service in time for lunch and kickoff, right? People describe preachers based on their charisma, humor, and personality.
But how does the Bible describe the preacher?
What follows are four images the Bible employs to accurately describe the role of the preacher.
The preacher is a herald of the glorious truth of God’s self-revelation in his word. Like a town crier bringing good news of the end of the war, the preacher cries, “Hear ye! hear ye!” as he proclaims the good news of Christ’s triumph over sin and death.
For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake (2 Cor. 4:5, emphasis added).
The preacher is a sower of gospel seed. They are not responsible for the condition of the soil. However, they are responsible for sowing by preaching the gospel. The faithful preacher will confidently preach God’s word trusting God to prepare the soil and give growth. The preacher of God’s word must be a humble sower who realizes that “neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth” (1 Cor. 3:7).
The preacher is a representative of a greater kingdom. Like a political ambassador working on behalf of his home nation in a foreign land, the preacher is sent by the King to work diligently in calling those lost in a foreign land home.
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:20).
To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak (Eph. 6:18-20).
The preacher is entrusted with the provisions those who are in the household need. His calling is to dispense the mysteries of God to God’s family. Like a mailman, the preacher is to deliver the glorious message of God revealed in his word that has been entrusted to him.
This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful (1 Cor. 4:1-2).
The message every preacher is to preach has been given to the preacher. The preacher does not come up with a message that works or keeps his audience’s attention. He does not receive a special, extra-biblical “word” from God. The preacher has been granted the privilege to take what has been entrusted and faithfully dispense it to God’s people. The preacher is a servant under someone else’s authority. The preacher is the communicator of somebody else’s word. Preacher, do you bend your thoughts to the Scriptures? Or do you bend the Scriptures to support your thoughts?
Good news has been given to the herald to proclaim.
Good seed has been given to the farmer to sow.
Good food has been given to the steward to dispense.
Mathew Gilbert is a student at Boyce College (B.A. Biblical and Theological Studies, Dec. ’14). He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (CrossBooks). Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their dog, Simba. You can follow him on Twitter @Mat_Gilbert.