Title: The Priority of Preaching
Author: Christopher Ash
Publisher: Christian Focus Publications
The author does a great job of presenting his theme, purpose and arguments in a concise as well as engaging manner. Deuteronomy, located in the Old Testament, is where the foundation and supports for the foundation are drawn. Though this book is small as far as number of pages, it has many thoughts that are well worth reviewing. Why would a non-preacher want to read this book? I can say that I wanted to know more about preaching. By the grace of God, I am a teacher, and as a teacher, I have the opportunity to learn from many different gifts, perspectives, doctrines and more. I don’t believe everything that I read, but I learn both things to do and things not to do.
The author has the book divided into three sections with an appendix entitled: “Give God the Microphone!” The first section is called, “The Authority of the Preached Word.” The section in Deuteronomy 18:9-22 is where the foundation is laid based on the actions of Moses, what God told Moses to say and instructions Moses left for the Israelites to follow. While most of us readily recall the Ten Commandments, few of us can recall what else is written in the book. Moses became the mouthpiece for God at Israel’s request due to their fear of God at the foot of the mountain. When these people saw the awesomeness of God, they told Moses to go and talk to God and then tell them what He said. Here we see where the authority given to Moses to speak the words of God came from--the very words God speaks himself. The authority of a preacher is one that is not given by a degree conferred on him after hard work and study. It is one that is first given as a gift by the Holy Spirit. Then, as the man of God studies, prays and seeks God‘s Word for the people, he speaks it. The author also puts forth a well-thought out, experienced and recognized need for expository preaching of the Word. Not a lot can be gleaned from small snippets or sermon series, but much can be gleaned and people are able to grow as the preacher places the Word in expository form. The deeper the preacher goes into God’s Word, the deeper his flock will go also. I can’t remember what sermon series is preached usually unless I look it up, but when I inductively study the Word I can recall much better what God is teaching me. As the people of God “camp” in a book of the Word, we cannot help but be stretched to grow as we are exhorted week after week from the same “camp” where all people are assembled.
The second section is called, “Preaching that Transforms the Church.” Here we catch a glimpse of how we today are much like the Israelites in that we need to recognize the reality of God, our stubbornness as a people of God, the urgency of faith and, finally, the wonder of grace. In Deuteronomy the Israelites learn how jealous God is for them to recognize He is the One True God. Today, we need to heed the same call. He is God regardless of how we do or don’t recognize Him. We are the ones that are changed by being in His Presence not Him being present with us. We too can be a stubborn people. We may see the preacher as just a man, and he is. However, he is a man called by God to preach His Word. We are commanded to hear, heed and then do the work in our daily lives in obedience to Him. The urgency of faith is reiterated in Hebrews by the phrase “If today you hear His voice…” While it is still “today”, we need to obey what He tells us to do and not count on “tomorrow” for there is no promise to anyone of having “tomorrow”. One risks eternity without God and living in torment for eternity if one waits to heed the salvation He bought for us at such a high price. We also lose an opportunity to please Him by obeying. We also lose an opportunity to be a blessing to others if we wait. Finally, as we see God as He is, we will see our sin. Then, in salvation, we see the wonder of His grace to us who are so undeserving of anything other than wrath.
The third and final section is entitled, “Preaching that Mends a Broken World.” There are many ways mankind can, will and has come up with to “fix” or “avoid” a situation that causes pain, death or suffering. While those may help, the ultimate reality is that we all need to be transformed from the inside out. If we strive to do good works from the flesh, ultimately, that is of no eternal value. Only the Word of God in us, transforming us and the filling power of the Holy Spirit can do what man in his flesh can never do; make a difference for here and for eternity.
There is so much more encapsulated in this little book that this summary hasn’t even mentioned or expounded on. I recommend reading this book regardless of gifting, denominations, doctrine or anything else because we all can learn something from the book of Deuteronomy.
Note: I received a complimentary copy of The Priority of Preaching from Christian Focus Publishers.