You may have noticed in the time you have been a part of Grace Covenant Church that our pattern of preaching on Sunday mornings is to take a passage of Scripture and preach that passage. This pattern is anchored in convictions about God, about His Word and about what we are supposed to do when we gather.
God is a speaking God and He delights to reveal himself. He revealed himself in salvation history by appearing and then by speaking (See Genesis 12; Exodus 3). He revealed His nature and his will to gather a people for his special possession. But notice that God’s revelation of himself was tied to his redemptive acts. So it is no wonder that God revealed himself most fully through his Son, Jesus Christ. Hebrews 1:1-2 captures this, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.” God speaks because he wants us to know him through Christ.
Convictions Concerning God’s Word
God does not repeat his redemptive acts for each generation for people to know him. Instead, he saw fit that the revelation he gave in its time was written down. The Bible is a long book for the very reason that God has done and said so much. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” This revelation is authoritative and it was put in a book. I tell my kids often about the Bible that it is God speaking through what he has already spoken.
These first two convictions about God and His Word could yield an individual or group simply reading the Bible. It’s why some people say things like, “Why would I listen to the Word preached when I can read and study it myself?” I have thought that before and maybe you have as well. But New Testament goes on. Paul says to Timothy, “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:1-2). I cannot imagine a greater reason given for this command that the Word be preached. Since God is present and Jesus is coming back to judge this Word needs to repeatedly heralded. God’s Word needs to be brought to bear in such a way that calls for God’s intended response from his gathered people. That’s the aim of preaching.
Convictions About the Gathered Church
In God’s economy, preaching is the unique means by which God’s word is brought effectively to the assembled congregation. John Calvin wrote,
“We see how God, who could in a moment perfect His own, nevertheless desires them to grow up into manhood solely under the education of the church. We see the way set for it: the preaching of the heavenly doctrine has been enjoined upon the pastors…Many are led either by pride, dislike or rivalry to the conviction that they can profit enough from private reading and meditation; hence they despise public assemblies and deem preaching superfluous. This is like blotting out the face of God which shines upon us in teaching…For neither the light and heat of the sun, nor food and drink, are so necessary to nourish and sustain the present life, as the apostolic and pastoral office is necessary to preserve the Church on earth.”
Hearing the preached Word should never replace our study and prayerful meditation on God’s Word. But neither should our individual devotion eclipse what designed for our good. So come ready this Sunday and every Sunday to hear God’s Word as it is brought to bear on our local church. Talk about it, encourage others with it. Know that it will be done better some weeks than others. But also know that it is out of God’s great love for us that “we grow up to manhood” under the preaching of God’s Word.
This post is the third in the series On Any Given Sunday, which highlights the significance and value of each part of our Sunday service.
 John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (The Library of Christian Classics), ed. John T. McNeill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2006), 1017, 1018, 1055.