Biblical preaching foundational for healthy churches, West says

Communications Staff — March 18, 2004

Biblical preaching is essential for building a Christ-honoring church, Ralph West, pastor of The Church Without Walls in Houston, Texas, said in chapel at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Preaching from 1 Timothy 3:14-16, West said that too often, ministers pursue worldly ambitions and ignore the church’s obligation to build upon a foundation of biblical truth. West’s sermon was a part of the National Conference on Preaching, held March 8-11 on the Louisville, Ky. campus. The Church Without Walls , also known as Brookhaven Baptist Church, is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.

As a remedy for straying from biblically faithful preaching, West highlighted three truths that God-centered preachers must declare.

First, preachers must declare the incarnation of God in Christ.

By coming to earth in human flesh, Jesus demonstrated the love and compassion of God the Father, West said.

“He is God in flesh who has come among us to walk among us and say to us, ‘I identify with all of your human sufferings and all of your human struggles and with all of your human difficulties,’” he said.

“We ought to hold up the incarnation of God in Christ to remind people that we do not worship a God that is behind the clouds, but a Jesus that has come where we are and identifies with everything we struggle with.”

Second, preachers must declare the necessity of proclaiming Christ to all humans.

The angels serve as examples for Christians, West said, because they repeatedly announced Jesus’ greatness during His earthly ministry. But in addition to what the angels proclaim, believers can testify about the redemption they have received in Christ, he said.

“The angels can say a lot of things,” West said. “… But they won’t be able to sing, ‘I’ve been redeemed.’ They won’t be able to say, ‘I’ve been washed in the blood of the Lamb.’ That’s a song that’s reserved for you and me.”

Despite the decreasing popularity of biblical preaching, ministers must not stop declaring the full-orbed Gospel, he said.

“We can’t afford not to tell somebody about the resurrected Christ,” West said. “Christianity rises and falls with preaching.”

Third, preachers must declare the consummation of Christ’s redemptive work.

Though many people rejected Jesus when He came to earth, Heaven gave Him a glorious reception upon His return after the Resurrection, West said. Today Jesus sits at the Father’s right hand interceding for believers, he said.

“Off that cross He made His way home, and He sits at the honored position at the right hand of the Father,” West said. “… While He’s in position with the Father, He’s in occupation for us right now. While we are here at Southern, He is interceding on one hand and advocating on the other.”

West pointed out that Christ stands before the Father as both our advocate and our substitute.

“All of us were guilty to be sentenced to die. But Jesus stood [before] His Father…And that’s why you and I ought to rejoice this morning. We do not preach about a dead savior. We’ve got a living Savior.”

West said that ministers must tell unceasingly of Christ’s life and work.

He concluded, “It’s these truths that we must proclaim.”

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