The following sermon was preached by the Rev. Gilbert M. Beenken, pastor, at the Oliver Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

It is structurally excellent and scripturally undergirded throughout. It is set in the “basic pattern”: the introduction leads to the thesis, and the elaboration of the thesis is the body of the sermon. The thread of thought is exceedingly easy to follow.

In the introduction, the preacher warns against triviality in the pulpit; the display of scholarship and “knowledge of the times” as a substitute for the communication of saving truth; reliance upon rhetoric as a substitute for content; and inadequate preparation.

He indicates the reasons for inadequate preparation: laziness; excessive pressure of pastoral concerns; discouragement over non-appreciation and non-attendance on the part of church members.

He then proceeds to his thesis, that preaching demands and deserves the utmost in preparation and prayer. The development is logical and easy to follow, and the sermon could readily be preached without notes. When it is finished, the preacher has clearly made his case.—Charles W. Koller

Text: I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word.…—2 Timothy 4:1, 2.

When a preacher asks, “Is preaching important?” in his sermon title, the congregation expects him to answer affirmatively. I plan to do just that a little later, and to give you three biblical reasons why preaching is important, most important.

First, however, I want to point out that much preaching today is not important; it is trite and trivial. I am thinking now of those preachers who insist on using a major part of their messages to bring their congregations up to date on current events, economics, politics, metaphysics, philosophy, psychology, science, and almost every subject other than the Word of the Lord. It seems to me as I read modern sermons, hear some on the radio, and hear laymen talking about them, that many preachers spend a lot of their time trying to convince their congregations that they are well read, intellectually capable, and fully abreast of the times.

I have never felt constrained to convince my congregations of these things. I have always felt that the congregations that called me to be their preacher did so because they believed me to be called of the Lord, intellectually capable, properly trained and prepared, and willing to give myself to the study and presentation of the Word of God. They called me because they believed I would be able to lead them in the things of the Lord.

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There is, of course, a place for all the aforementioned subjects—even in the pulpit. They can be used as illustrative material. But the Word of God is to be the heart of our preaching. Important preaching is biblical preaching, preaching at whose heart stands a Person—Jesus Christ.

Another type of preaching that is less than important and pains many people is the type we might call “much ado about nothing” preaching. Words, words, words, and more words! And when one analyzes these words, he finds that little or nothing has been said. Charles Haddon Spurgeon, sometimes called the “prince of preachers,” has written:

The true minister of Christ knows that the value of a sermon must lie, not in its fashion and manner, but in the truth it contains. Nothing can compensate for the absence of teaching: all the rhetoric in the world is but as chaff to the wheat, in contrast to the gospel of our salvation. However beautiful the sower’s basket, it is a miserable mockery if it be without seed. The grandest discourse ever delivered is an ostentatious failure if the doctrine of the grace of God be absent from it: it sweeps over men’s heads like a cloud, but it distributes no rain upon the thirsty earth; and therefore the remembrance of it to souls taught wisdom by an experience of pressing need is one of disappointment or worse.

A little later in this same message to young preachers he adds: “It is infamous to ascend your pulpit and pour over your people rivers of language, cataracts of words, in which mere platitudes are held in solution like infinitesimal grains of homeopathic medicine in an Atlantic of utterance.”

There is another type of preaching that is offensive to many and, I fear, also to God. It is the preaching of the truth, the preaching of God’s Word—but preaching that is poorly prepared and dully done. He who preaches in this way is very unlike an ambassador; he is apart from unction, without conviction. The Gospel of Christ should come forth from the mouth of the preacher and strike the ear of the hearer as a glorious, heavenly, joyful sound!

Why do we have gospel preaching poorly done? Why is the message of God’s grace often delivered with a total lack of graciousness? The easiest answer is that preachers are lazy, and some are. A better answer is, I believe, that these preachers have not given sermon preparation, Bible study, reading, thinking, and meditation a proper place in their lives.

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Last Friday afternoon I had a telephone call from a pastor of a sizable evangelical church. He asked me what I was doing, and when I said I was preparing my Sunday morning sermon he answered, “I haven’t had time to get at either of my sermons yet.” Here it was Friday afternoon and this preacher to a large congregation had not started preparing either of his sermons. He had been too busy with such things as organization, administration, counseling, calling, social engagements, and fund-raising to get to what ought to be a minister’s primary task.

A third reason why even gospel preaching is often poorly done is that some ministers (and this will probably surprise you) feel it is unimportant. Preaching, they say, is futile business! Why sweat over sermons? People don’t appreciate them. The most laughed-at jokes are those about preachers and preaching. Run here and run there, let your congregation see you on the run (even if you’re just running in circles), and they will be happy with you even if your preaching is at best mediocre.

This is the cynical attitude of many preachers today. And they have reason for their cynicism, for on the average Sunday morning seven out of ten Protestants don’t come to God’s house to hear a sermon. I am sure that on Sunday nights nine out of ten Protestants don’t attend.

There is a reason for the great shortage of preachers in our denomination. And there is a reason why this church of ours doesn’t have a single son in seminary this fall. The office of the preacher is not an honorable office in many of our homes. On Sunday evenings many so-called evangelical Christians prefer television to a second message from God’s Word. Mind you, dear congregation, our children know what our feelings are on these matters. It is a vicious circle: preachers don’t properly prepare their messages because they feel that their congregations don’t appreciate them, and the less they prepare the less their preaching is appreciated.

Whether preaching is appreciated or not, the preaching of God’s Word is important and therefore ought to be done with much care, preparation, and prayer. The Apostle Paul, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote to the young man Timothy, “Preach the word.” All through history, according to the Bible, God’s great men have been preachers. Moses was a preacher! Noah was a preacher! The prophets from Elijah to Malachi were preachers! John the Baptist was a preacher! Our Lord Jesus Christ was a preacher! The apostles were preachers! Paul, in the great tenth chapter of Romans, wrote,.… how shall they hear without a preacher?”

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According to our Scripture lesson (2 Tim. 3:16–4:5), preaching is important for three reasons.


In the first place preaching is important because of the Word that we have to preach—God’s Word. In Second Timothy 3:16, 17 we read: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” The word “inspiration” comes from a Latin word that means “to breathe into.” The Scriptures are God-breathed. Because they are God-breathed they are true, for God is the Truth. Because they are God-breathed they are also authoritative, for God is our Sovereign King. The Scriptures, being God-breathed, truthful, and authoritative, are therefore “profitable.”

Let us note the areas in which this divine Word that we are to preach is profitable. First, it is profitable for doctrine. Christians need to hear Bible preaching because it grounds them in the fundamentals of the faith. When the Bible is preached the following great doctrines are set forth: (1) the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture; (2) the Trinity; (3) the deity and virgin birth of Christ; (4) the creation and fall of man; (5) the substitutionary atonement; (6) the bodily resurrection and ascension of Christ; (7) the regeneration of believers; (8) the resurrection of all men and their assignment to eternal blessedness or eternal woe.

This is biblical truth! Many professing Christians are straying doctrinally because they do not give ear to Bible preaching.

Secondly, the Bible and Bible preaching are profitable because we are reproved by them. The Word of God convicts us of sin, convinces us of our need of Christ, calls us to repentance, and turns us back to God.

Thirdly, the Bible and Bible preaching are profitable for “correction.” The word means “improvement.” We are helped, through the Word, to correct our spiritual wrongs and lacks and weaknesses. Who of us does not need such correction?

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Fourthly, the Bible and Bible preaching are profitable “for instruction in righteousness,” that is, for training, for education in righteousness. As parents through their words train their children to behave properly, so God through his Word trains his people to live righteously.

All this is to the end, as verse 17 puts it, “that the man of God may be perfect [complete], throughly furnished [or completely equipped] unto all good works.’ One of the marks of modern Christians is that they are not properly equipped for spiritual service. Many of them can’t pray, give a testimony, show the way of salvation to a sinner, or teach a Sunday school class. Dear friend, one of the ways to get equipped to work for God is to spend much time with the Word of God. Yes, biblical preaching is indeed important.


In the second place, biblical preaching is important because of the charge that we have to preach. Listen to it! “I charge thee therefore before God. and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Tim. 4:1, 2).

Here we find Timothy solemnly commanded to pass on the testimony of the Scripture through preaching. He is charged before the great God and his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who on the day of his appearing and kingdom will judge all. What an incentive to preach the Word faithfully! Note that we are charged to preach the Word “instant in season, and out of season,” which means that we are to preach it whether it be convenient or inconvenient. We are also charged to “reprove” and “rebuke,” which means that we are to point out, convincingly and fearlessly, the errors and sins of Christians and non-Christians alike, calling on them to turn from their sins to the Saviour. Furthermore, we are charged to “exhort” our people. This means that we must earnestly entreat them to repent and to return to the Lord Jesus. A good illustration of this kind of exhortation is found in Romans 12:1, 2. Where we hear Paul pleading: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

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This whole ministry of preaching is to be carried out “with all longsuffering and doctrine.” We are to teach God’s Word with the patience of Job. This is our charge! This is God’s demand of his ministers!


Finally, preaching is important because of the time in which we are living. “The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry” (2 Tim. 4:3–5).

Our country is dotted with churches that once were centers of orthodoxy, churches that preached the Bible but now dilute the Word of God and turn wine into water. Preaching God’s Word is important today because this is a day of apostasy!

It is surely true that many professing Christians do not want to hear sound doctrine. They want to hear only sermonettes that will not challenge their sinful desires. They do not want to hear about the wrongness of their worldliness. They do not want their lack of righteousness revealed. They do not want to be confronted with the need of being born again. They speak disparagingly of “firer-and-brimstone” preaching, and when they hear about the precious blood of our Lord Jesus they dismiss it with a shrug, saying that it is one of those old clichés that behind-the-times fundamentalists insist on keeping.

But what is the preacher of the Word to do when the people “turn away their ears from the truth”? We find the answer in the fifth verse of this chapter. First, he is to watch in all things. He is to be alert. We need wide-awake, discerning preachers of the Word. We need men who know the signs of the times. Secondly, he is to endure afflictions. Paul uses the same word in Second Timothy 2:3 and 2:9, and it is translated “endure hardness” and “suffer trouble.” In these difficult days God’s servant must learn to take persecution patiently. He must expect and be ready for any type of trial if he is faithfully preaching God’s Word. Thirdly, he is to do the work of an evangelist. He is to keep on preaching Christ and reaching souls for the Saviour. While some apostatize he is to evangelize! And finally, he is to make full proof of his ministry. He is to give his best in fulfilling all that God would have him be and do. Then when he comes to the end of his life and ministry he will be able to say with Paul, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day …” (2 Tim. 4:7, 8).

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Yes, preaching is important because of the Word we have to preach, because of the charge we have to preach it, and because of the time in which we are living. It is my prayer that God will keep me true to his Holy Word and that he will always give you desire for both the milk and the meat of that Holy Word of God.—From The Oliver Pulpit, published by Oliver Presbyterian Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

T. Leo Brannon is pastor of the First Methodist Church of Samson, Alabama. He received the B.S. degree from Troy State College and the B.D. from Emory University.

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