The LBCF of 1689 highlights the ministry of the word in connection with saving faith: “The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts, and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the word…” It should come as no surprise to reformed Christians that God places a great emphasis upon preaching in the church of Jesus Christ.
The Bible is clear concerning the fact that sinners must hear and believe the gospel in order to be saved. There is objective truth revealed in the Bible concerning the life, death, and resurrection of Christ that sinners must hear in order to be saved. There are several passages that demonstrate the necessity of the gospel with reference to the salvation of sinners; see for instance Rom 1:16; 10:17; 1 Cor 15:1-4; Eph 1:13-14; 2 Tim 3:15-16; Jas 1:18; 1 Pet 1:23. This means that no matter how dramatic or powerful our personal testimony may be, if we do not set forth biblical truth, the sinner we witness to will not have the saving data used by the Spirit to affect life-saving change.
The Bible not only emphasizes the objective truth that must be communicated, it highlights the primary vehicle for that communication: preaching. In Rom. 10:14-17, the Apostle Paul sets forth the necessity for God-sent men to communicate the truth of the gospel for the salvation of sinners. John Murray comments, “The main point is that the saving relation to Christ involved in calling upon His name is not something that can occur in a vacuum; it occurs only in a context created by proclamation of the gospel on the part of those commissioned to proclaim it” (Romans, p.58). Note specifically verse 14 where Paul says, “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?” We could accurately translate the second question this way: “And how shall they believe Him whom they have not heard?” When a biblically qualified man accurately expounds the Scripture, Christ is speaking in the churches. Paul illustrates this in Eph. 2:17 when he says “And He [Christ] came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near.” Jesus never physically traveled to Ephesus, but from His place of authority at the right hand of God, He preached peace by His Spirit through His earthly representatives.
The Second Helvetic Confession states concerning preaching: “The preaching of the Word of God is the Word of God. Wherefore when this Word of God is now preached in the church by preachers lawfully called, we believe that the very Word of God is proclaimed, and received by the faithful; and that neither any other Word of God is to be invented nor is to be expected from heaven: and that now the Word itself which is preached is to be regarded, not the minister that preaches; for even if he be evil and a sinner, nevertheless the Word of God remains still true and good” (1:4). May God indeed revive in each of us an appreciation for a sound pulpit ministry.