preaching or teaching?03-08-2015 - Posted by Andre Piet
Recently, in a meeting, I had explained a few verses of Romans 1. Afterwards, a lady came up to me and it became clear that what I had explained did not touched her positively. She fond what I had said to be “so rational.” Normally, I would regard that as a compliment, but this lady explicitly did not mean it, as such. Her interest was more specifically, in how it made “her feel” by what was said. She also wanted to hear personal stories, that explained how things can be applied in everyday life. What this lady actually longed to receive is, what in churches is called a sermon and what in faculties of theology is taught as homiletics (the ‘science’ of preaching). The purpose of a sermon is not the study or teaching, but the application of Scripture, for one’s personal life and daily walk. Assuming this definition, then it is true that the referred to presentation was not a sermon. That was not my objective, either. Although, a right understanding of God’s word, will for many, not leave the feelings untouched. On the contrary! However, in general, a sermon is taken as something in which someone, in unfriendly terms, is lectured about an important lesson of life and living. Whereas, with others, a sermon is taken as a boring speech. Never, even once, did I hear a preacher begin his presentation with the words: Congregation, today I do not have a sermon, because I have something to tell you… That is precisely why I do not preach. I have something to tell you! I’m not just talking about what is in the Bible, but I explain what the Bible really teaches. To teach what I myself have been able to learn from it. I’m not relating my own stories or illustrations, but I aim to make clear what “is written”. Neither do I aim to interpret feelings or to hit a sensitive chord with others. In all these cases, one would make the Bible a kind of coat rack: designed to display your own thoughts. Then the speaker is not a “servant of the Word”, but a servant of his own thoughts. Man’s word, instead of God’s word. What is really needed is for people to hear the Word of God. Rightly divided (2Tim.2:15). Because, make no mistake: the Word testifies of itself that it is “living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword” (Heb.4:12). Therefore, present that Word. Pure and unmixed. Without human addition. That is what the psalmist meant, when he wrote: “The opening of Your words is enlightening, Making the simple proficient.” (Ps.119:130). Knowledge of the word is extremely powerful: it not only informs us, it transforms us, too!