Bruce VanSolkema is a member of the Protestant Reformed Church of Byron Center, Michigan.

I wish to convey the needs and desires of every child of God who sits under the preaching of the Word of God, the needs and fulfillment of those needs which are taken from the bottom of my heart as I listen to the preaching from Sunday to Sunday.

In the first place, we should desire to hear good exegetical Biblical sermons based on the entire Word of God. We need sermons that explain to us the historical background, the meaning of the text, with many appropriate proof texts and proper examples and application for us in today’s world: sermons that have one basic foundation, and that is, “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (I Cor. 2:2). It we do not hear that basic foundation in every single sermon, we as Gods people the pew are not fully spiritually edified. That is what our heartfelt desire is—spiritual edification.

We are weak, sinful. human beings who confess our sins day after day. We ask for forgiveness of those sins through Christ’s blood shed on the cross for his elect, chosen people. We have fallen short of the glory of God every moment of our lives (Romans 3:23). We have sinned against the Almighty God, Creator and Sustainer of the heavens and the earth. We have heard the welcome sound to come up to God’s house, the house of prayer and the house of worship. We have been reminded by the reading of the law of God in the worship service that we have broken every commandment which God has given us. God commands us: “Be ye holy: for I am the Lord your God” (Lev. 20:7). As we meditate on these things, what do we see in ourselves? Nothing but a stinking, rotten, no-good pile of bones and flesh that soon will return to the dust from which it was created. For we have been humbled to the dust. It is precisely at that moment that we are at the very bottom of our spiritual and emotional nature and need to be spiritually edified and uplifted.

We love to hear the lively preaching of the gospel—the good news of salvation: “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:18). “God sent His Son to be a propitiation for our sins” (I John 4:10). He conquered death and hell and Satan by rising again from the dead the third day, according to the Scriptures. We must hear that our Redeemer liveth and because He lives, we, too, shall live.

So you see that it is a must that in every sermon we hear Jesus Christ crucified, and that He rose again the third day. It is not good that a child of God be left in his misery of sin and not be comforted by the fact that he is a sinner—saved by the wonderful, sovereign grace of God. In Isaiah 40:1, 2, we read, “Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned . . .” We need to be spiritually strengthened, uplifted, and comforted in our hearts by that lively preaching and expounding of the Word of God. We must hear not man’s word, but only “Thus saith the Lord,” so we can properly worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).

We must also realize that the Holy Spirit dwells within the heart of every child of God, convicting us of our sins, giving us the assurance of our salvation through Christ’s death on the cross, and leading us in a life of gratitude by good works. The preaching of God’s Word is the chief means of grace by which that operation of the Holy Spirit is accomplished. As Romans 8:16, 17 explains, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together.”

But some may say that we can supply God’s word to ourselves by the working of the Holy Spirit while we sit under the preaching of God’s word. We cannot deny that, but the fact of the matter is that the primary way that God is. pleased to use is the explicit preaching of His word through an ordained preacher. A preacher that must “preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (II Tim. 4:2). Preach the word. Why? Because of the nature of the holy Scriptures, “which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 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, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (II Tim. 3:16, 17). So we see that the preacher must preach the word which is profitable for doctrine. Doctrines? What are doctrines? Doctrines are the teachings of the Scripture which we hold very dear to our hearts and lives, the truths of Scripture which have been taught and handed down from generation to generation. Doctrine is the truth which has been developed over the years and defended by the saints of old even in the face of persecution, ridicule, scorn and, yes, even death itself. May we proclaim with all the saints, “Faith of our fathers living still, we will be true to Thee till death.”

(to be continued)