Bruce VanSolkema is a member of the Protestant Reformed Church of Byron Center, Michigan.
But can we stop there by saying it is enough for us to know the doctrines taught us by God’s Word and leave it at that? By no means. The verse goes on to say that Scripture is profitable for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” The preacher must preach the word so that we are reproved, corrected, and instructed in righteousness. We must hear how to apply those doctrines to our lives as we live and walk in the midst of this wicked world. That is what we call practical, doctrinal, applicatory preaching, or simply sermons that proclaim: 1) the doctrines of Scripture, 2) how they are personally applied to our lives, 3) how I can put those doctrines into practice. Remember this fact, based on the above text, that we cannot or should not in preaching separate the doctrines of Scripture from the practical application and instruction, which is on every page of Holy Writ.
Why not? The answer is given in verse 17: “That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” That is our goal, and the command of God which we referred to in the beginning of this article: to be holy as God is holy—to be Christ-like. He is the perfect one, who carried out God’s perfect plan of salvation. The plan of salvation that comforts me that my “burdens are lifted at Calvary, and that Jesus is very near” assures me that I am and forever shall remain a living member of the church of Christ. Those good works, even though I have only a small beginning of the new obedience in Christ, are the evidence I need to prove to me that I have that true faith which Christ has implanted into my heart by His Holy Spirit.
The assurance and joy of salvation—how sweet it is!
So you see how essential it is for us to view the preaching in this way. If preaching is done in the proper way, then we can say as the prophet Isaiah inIsaiah 58: 13 and 14, that we can call the sabbath a delight and delight ourselves in the Lord. May we all prepare ourselves to hear Christ speak to us through His servant, so that when our desires and needs have been fulfilled, we proclaim, “Amen, praise the Lord.”
In closing, I wish to make a plea to all of us involved in the preaching of .the gospel. First of all, to the professor: to teach young men how to preach the gospel according to the guidelines set down in Scripture, and to feed the flock of Jesus Christ by fulfilling the needs of the congregation. To the ordained preachers: to follow the instruction given in the seminary to preach Jesus Christ crucified as the central theme of every sermon. To the consistory members, especially the elders: to watch over the preaching, to encourage, instruct and admonish, if necessary, but make sure the church is being edified, uplifted, and comforted. Last of all, but certainly not the least, to the parishioners sitting in the pews, as members of the office of all believers, as prophets, priests and kings: you have the greatest responsibility of all to watch over the seminary professors, ministers, elders and deacons, fellow members and, yes, even yourselves. You must ask yourselves the questions: Am I being fed with the true milk and meat of the Word of God? Am I being convicted of my sin, led to the cross of Christ, and shown how to live a life of gratitude? If not, then I ask you wherein lies the problem: Is it you or someone else? You have the responsibility to answer that question and, to the utmost of your power, to correct the situation through the means God has set forth in His Word. Let us all take heed to the Apostle Paul’s charge to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:28, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with His own blood.”
Now, then, before you come to the conclusion that this article is a matter of personal criticism, let me end by saying that we have deep reason to be thankful. Thankful that in the past and present, the cause of the Scriptures is faithfully being preaching in our churches. May our prayer be that this truth continue and that the Lord not remove His candlestick from our churches.