08 Dec Why Sermons?
Read2 Timothy 4:1-5
Thought for the Day: Good sermons help us understand God’s Word!
The word sermon never appears in Scripture. You may ask: ‘How could this be!?’ What about Jesus’s words in Matthew 5-7 that we call The Sermon on the Mount? Or haven’t we all been told of Peter’s famousSermon at Pentecost in Acts 2? The English word ‘sermon’ actually comes much later in church history. It is from Old French and was originally used to describe any oral discourse. The above-mentioned are oral discourses, but they also contain clear teaching with both moral and theological implications. Over the years, this got added to the word sermon so that today the word is mainly used to describe what takes place in our churches during a worship service.
After the Reformation, as the Protestant church developed, sermons became an increasingly important part of worship. It is easy to understand why. Before the days of universal education, most people could not read or write. The pastor was the person who could read the Scriptures, study them, and teach them to the congregation. To John Wesley, the sermon was so important that Wesley Chapel in London was built primarily for public preaching. On our visit there years ago, the guide reminded us that Wesley forbade the sacraments in Wesley Chapel. He believed that baptism and communion needed to be reserved for the official Anglican churches of his day.
Although the word sermon doesn’t appear in The Bible, there is instruction on how to publicly teach God’s Word. Writing to young Timothy, Paul stressed that, “The time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” Paul let Timothy know that when he publicly taught, his words would either enhance or distort the listeners’ understanding of God’s Word. As Uncle Ben Parker in Spider-Man put it best, “With great power comes great responsibility!”
Whenever we listen to a sermon it is important to be discerning. Just because food is legally sold in a supermarket, it is not necessarily healthy or good for you. Likewise, just because someone preaches a sermon in a church, that alone doesn’t make it spiritually healthy! A good sermon at a minimum must be Biblical, point us to a deeper relationship with Jesus, teach sound doctrine, remind us to become more prayerful and challenge us to serve others. We don’t want to have what the Apostle Paul referred to as ‘itching ears’. Therefore, let’s listen to and EVALUATE the sermons we hear to make sure they are consistent with the Biblical text and guide us into proper moral and theological teaching. After all, sermons can draw us closer to God’s Word, but they must never replace it.
Pastors Stan and David