The Necessity Of
Preachers & Preaching

Preachers Are God-Sent

In a Brief Survey of the Epistle of Paul to the Romans
Based on sermons preached in PCC Worship Services, July 2003 to Sep 2005
Part 50b of 83

“…14  How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?  15  And how shall they preach, except they be sent? (Romans 10:13-21).

[We have been considering the apostle Paul’s inspired arguments on why preachers and preaching are necessary for God’s people. His first argument, which we considered in the first instalment of this exposition is that God has ordained that faith comes by hearing. In second part, we will consider Paul’s argument that preachers are important because they are sent of God as His representatives. —JJL]

2. Preachers are God-Sent

There are many Christians who say that every Christian must be a preacher. They say the great commission in Matthew 28 is a command to every Christian to go out into the streets, or to go door-to-door to preach the Gospel.

Well, I am not so sure. The great commission in Matthew 28 is clearly given to the eleven apostles. It was not given to all his disciples. Now, of course, the church must be engaged in the work of evangelism. But not everyone is called to preach.

Who are those who are called to preach? They are those who are sent. “How shall they preach, except they be sent?” asks Paul (v. 15). What is he saying? Can’t someone simply go out, or stand up and preach? Why is there a need to be sent?

To answer this question, we must realise that preaching is not the same as giving, say, a school report or a project presentation. Neither is preaching simply giving a public talk.

To preach the Gospel is to be a herald of Christ. A herald is a person who speaks on behalf of someone with authority. When Moses complained to the LORD that he was not eloquent, but was slow of speech, the LORD told him to bring Aaron along. He says—

“Thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth… And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be… to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God” (Ex 4:15-16).

Aaron was to be an intelligent loud hailer for Moses. He was to take the words of Moses and speak to the people.

A herald is the same. He is an official spokesman. A preacher is sent as an official spokesman of Christ. He has the authority of Christ. One who is not sent on the other hand, but speaks in the name of Christ, speaks as an impersonator.

The Lord says through Jeremiah concerning false prophets:

“I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied” (Jer 23:21-22).

They who would preach in the name of Christ must be sent by Christ.

“The preaching of the gospel, which is committed to [the Church], is the spiritual sceptre of Christ by which He displays His power” says Calvin.

Thus, in a mysterious way, the words of the preacher are to be heard by the sheep of Christ as the words of Christ. Notice how strikingly Paul alludes to this in verses 19-21. In verse 19 he says:

“Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you” (Rom 10:19).

Who is the ‘I’ in what Moses says? If you look at the statement according to the grammar and syntax of it, you will conclude that the ‘I’ is Moses! But that would not make sense, would it? No, no, the ‘I’ is God. Moses is speaking as a spokesman of God.

Likewise in verse 20, we read that “Isaiah is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not, &c.” Who is the ‘I’? Again if you follow the rules grammar and syntax you will have to conclude that the ‘I’ is Isaiah, but you know that this is the case. The ‘I’ refers to God.

Now, in these two instances, it is very clear that the words that the prophets were speaking were the words of the LORD. But there are instances where it is not so clear. For example, in verse 16 we read “Isaiah saith, ‘Lord, who hath believed our report?’” Now, these words are the words of Isaiah! Isaiah is asking the Lord a question. They are the word of God only because it is in the inspired Scripture, and so we know that it is God’s infallible word.

But none of the preachers today are inspired. So we cannot say that everything that the preacher says is God’s infallible word. Yet at the same time, we must receive the word preached as the Word of Christ; and whenever the preacher’s admonishments and instructions are consistent with the Scriptures, then they ought to be received as the admonishments and instructions of Christ.

This was how the Christians at Berea received the preaching of the apostles:

“These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11).

Whose word did the Bereans receive? Was it Paul’s words? No, look at verse 13; it was the “word of God.” Paul was preaching the word of God. It was the word of God that the Bereans received. The Bereans heard the word of God preached with a correct attitude. They receive it as the word of God and then they compare it with the written word.

But now, as an aside, we must ask: How does Christ send his preacher? He sends him by calling him. In earlier days, Christ would often call His preachers directly, —such as the way He called His apostles, or the apostle Paul.

Today, Christ calls His preachers generally through preaching. His voice is heard through the preaching of His word. When the word is preached, the Spirit of Christ applies the word into the heart of God’s children in different ways. For most it is conversion and sanctification. But occasionally, the Lord calls His preachers. He impresses, —upon the heart of those He would call, —a deep desire to preach the Gospel so that they say with the apostle Paul: “woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” (1 Cor 9:16).

But this call must be confirmed through the church. The church is the body of Christ, and therefore the church is the instrument which Christ uses to confirm His call. This call is confirm through a show of hands by the members of the church, and a laying of hands by the elders.

This whole exercise is briefly comprehended in the word ‘send.’ Preachers are necessary because they are sent as the heralds of Christ.

But finally, let us consider how preachers are necessary because they are the means by which Christ warns His people.

to be Continued Next Issue

—JJ Lim