Every congregation should be demanding when it comes to preaching. When a person stands in the pulpit, they are to be speaking "as the oracle of God" (1 Pet. 4:10-11). If what is said conflicts with what God has said, it is out of order, no matter who says it. The solemn injunction of the Spirit is, "Preach the Word . . . " (1 Tim. 4:1). Jesus said, "Preach the Gospel . . . " (Mark 16:16). Paul said, "we preach not ourselves" (2 Cor. 4:5). Insist that these admonitions are fulfilled regularly and with excellence by your preacher.
Unfortunately, there is much unprofitable talk coming from the pulpits of the land, and it ought not be so. Israel was rebuked for allowing unapproved words to be spoken to them. "The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so . . . " (Jer. 5:31). "For they prophesy falsely to you in My name: I have not sent them, saith the Lord" (Jer. 29:9). It is tragic when such things occur--tragic because God's name is dishonored and His people are plundered. In God's kingdom, if you are not given spiritual resources by those speaking in the name of the Lord, your heart is robbed. We do not meet in a spiritual vacuum, and we do well to be demanding about the quantity and quality of spiritual food we receive.
For spiritual growth to take place, you must be challenged to think about the things of God. Preaching is to challenge your thinking. This is not an activity to be characterized by humorous anecdotes and juvenile illustrations. Preaching is to reflect the mind of God. It is to contain the Word of God. Good preaching will remind you of what you read in the Bible, and Bible reading will remind you of good preaching. If this does not occur, the door of hearts and minds is left ajar for Satan, and he will not fail to enter in! In our day, preaching has lost its dominance, being replaced by other emphases. But God has not changed His mind, and believers must not change theirs. "It pleased God through the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe" (1 Cor. 1:21). This is not limited to reaching the lost. It was, after all, spoken to the church! It is also "saved" by the preaching of the Gospel. As it is written, "Moreover, brethren, I declare unto YOU the Gospel . . . which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye ARE saved, if ye keep in memory what I have preached unto you . . . " (1 Cor. 15:1-2). If preaching does not help us remember Christ, it will cause us to forget Him. We are, after all, in a "present evil world" that militates against our faith (Gal. 1:4).
Several objectives are served by preaching. All of them are noble all of them are not equal. First, preaching is to set Christ at the center; He is the sum and substance of the Gospel that we bring (Acts 8:5, 25; 17:18; 1 Cor. 1:23; 2 Cor. 1:19). Second, the glorious promises of God are to be set before us. They will draw us into involvement with God, for that is what they are calculated to do (2 Cor. 1:20; Heb. 6:12; 11:33; 2 Pet. 1:4). Third, those that are fighting the good fight of faith are to be encouraged, comforted, and made glad with the prospect of coming deliverance (Acts 16:40; Rom. 1:12; 1 Thess. 2:11. Fourth, the people are to be challenged to crucify the flesh, making no provision for the fulfillment of its lust (Rom. 8:5-12; Gal. 5:24; Col. 3:5). Fifth, unbelief is to be confronted and rebuked (Heb. 3:12,19; 4:6,11). There is no place for it in the kingdom of God. Sixth, the correction of spiritual disorders is to be accomplished through skillful use of the Word of God (2 Tim. 3:16; 4:2). Thus is not an exhaustive view of the objectives of preaching, but it covers the primary areas.
I have listed these things in the order of their priority, as I see them. I have found by experience, majoring on the primary things reduces the necessity for having to deal with the minor ones. It is very rare that persistent difficulties are found among those hearing and receiving Christ-centered preaching. It is the preachers responsibility to preach, and the hearers responsibility to hear. Wherever moral failure occurs in the church, one, and possibly both, of these have been missing.