Directory For The Publick Worship Of God
Of the Preaching of the Word. (Part 1.)
Question 1.—Is the preaching of the word, being the power of God unto salvation, one of the greatest and most excellent works belonging to the ministry?
Answer.—Yes. Tit. 1:3; Rev. 14:6. Clearly, preaching of the word is that instrument ordained by God to be the power of God unto salvation, 1 Cor. 1:21; Rom. 1:15, 16. It is one of the greatest and most excellent works entrusted to those in the ministry, 1 Cor. 9:16; 2 Cor. 2:12. Indeed, other duties of Gospel ministers are accounted of lesser importance in comparison, 1 Cor. 1:17.
Question 2.—Ought it to be so performed, that the workman need not be ashamed, but may save himself, and those that hear him?
Answer.—Yes. 2 Tim. 2:15. The preaching ought to be conducted in such a manner as may lend the greatest weight to its matter, Tit. 2:7, 8; Eph. 4:29. The preaching of the Gospel is that great work for effecting the salvation of sinners, Rom. 1:16. Sound teaching and preaching is the appointed means to secure the salvation of both the preacher and the hearers, 1 Tim. 4:16.
Question 3.—Is it presupposed, (according to the rules of ordination), that the minister of Christ is in some good measure gifted for so weighty a service?
Answer.—Yes. Eph. 3:7; 2 Tim. 1:6; Col. 1:28, 29. Though there be degrees in the gifting, 1 Pet. 4:10, 11; yet doubtless it is that those called to the ministry are equipped by God in both natural and spiritual parts for the fulfilling of the requisite service, 1 Tim. 3:2; Eph. 4:7-12.
Question 4.—Should he seek the illumination of the Spirit of God by prayer?
Answer.—Yes. 1 Cor. 2:10-13. If this was the great desire of an apostle, how much more those of meaner gifts and graces? Eph. 6:18, 19. Christ himself was anointed by the Spirit for the purpose of preaching the Gospel, Isa. 61:1.
Question 5.—Should the subject of his sermon be drawn from some text of Scripture, either illustrating some head of religion, or adapted to some special occasion; or expository upon some lengthier portion of Scripture?
Answer.—Yes. 2 Tim. 4:2. Christ chose a text suitable for the occasion, Luke 4:17-21. Thus, Peter on the day of Pentecost preached upon a particular text, Acts 2:16-22. Expository preaching through books or portions of books of the Bible merely contemplates this prerogative of the minister to study the edification of those under him.
Question 6.—Should the introduction to the text be brief and perspicuous, drawn from Scripture?
Answer.—Yes. Acts 13:21. Introductory facts, which help to reinforce the message, ought to be drawn from Scripture, Jude 14. Matters of speculation ought to be avoided.
Question 7.—Should he, if the text be long, give a brief sum or paraphrase, always being diligent to preserve the scope and relevance of that portion to the sermon?
Answer.—Yes. Luke 4:17-29. Oftentimes Christ himself condenses the events spread over larger portions of Scripture in order to advance His argument, Matt. 12:39-42. So, too, run the expositions of the apostle, Acts 13:16-23.
Question 8.—Should he be careful to give more attention to the order of the matter than the words?
Answer.—Yes. Neh. 8:8. Sound interpretation studies the meaning of the text for the edification of God’s people, Luke 20:40-44. For this reason, the matter of the text is of greater import than the mere ordering of words, 1 Cor. 14:5, 19.
Question 9.—What ought the minister’s care to be in raising doctrines from the text?
Answer.—The minister’s care in raising doctrines from the text is threefold: 1.) Be careful that the matter is the truth of God, Gal. 5:11. 2.) That the truth is contained or grounded in the text, that the hearers may discern how God teaches them from it, Luke 4:17-21; Matt. 21:12, 13. 3.) That he chiefly insist on those doctrines which are principally intended, and make the most for the edification of the hearers, Matt. 19:4-6.
Question 10.—Should the doctrine be expressed in plain terms; comparing and confirming it by other pertinent places of Scripture?
Answer.—Yes. 2 Cor. 3:12. This was clearly the practice both of Christ, Matt. 15:3-9; and the apostles, John 12:37-41.
Question 11.—Should the arguments be solid and convincing, and any illustrations such as bring light to the matter?
Answer.—Yes. 1 Cor. 2:4. It is the duty of those who preach to exhort and convince gainsayers, Tit. 1:9. Arguments should be advanced in order to bring about conviction, Acts 17:2-4; 18:28. Any illustrations ought to be such as cast further light on the matter at hand and not such as tend to obscure, John 3:8.
Question 12.—Should the preacher seek to remove those doubts which most obviously arise from the text and, yet, avoid raising other seeming endless and wicked cavils?
Answer.—Yes. 2 Cor. 12:19. It is the duty of the preacher to clarify and illuminate the text for the benefit of those who hear, Neh. 8:8; yet, so as to avoid those pitfalls of addressing needless questions and speculative points, the preacher should be careful to remain silent on those matters not presently contested and those to no purpose, 1 Tim. 1:3, 4; 2 Tim. 2:15, 16; Tit. 1:14.