A Christian Theology of Preaching

Discover the profound spiritual and theological depths of Christian preaching in this insightful exploration, which unveils the transformative power of faithfully delivering God's Word.


Justin Hoke

1/19/202412 min read

Open Bible on wooden pulpit illuminated by soft light with cross silhouette in background.
Open Bible on wooden pulpit illuminated by soft light with cross silhouette in background.

The act of preaching, transcending mere spoken words or ritualistic traditions, occupies a vital place in the spiritual life of the church. It is a profound dialogue, not just between a speaker and an audience, but between God and His people. In this sacred exchange, timeless truths come alive, touching hearts across generations. The theology of preaching delves deep into this dynamic, exploring its roots, essence, and impact on the Christian faith.

Preaching is an art form steeped in divine inspiration and human expression. It is a unique union where the eternal wisdom of the divine meets the articulate expressions of humanity. This intersection is not just a dissemination of information; it is an event – a moment where the heaven and earth collide, where the words of Scripture breathe life into the world around us. The pulpit becomes a conduit through which the timeless truths of the Bible are channeled into the present, addressing the ever-changing realities of human existence.

At its core, preaching is an act of proclaiming God's Word. It is a sacred task that demands fidelity to the scriptures, ensuring that the message of the Bible is communicated accurately and effectively. This involves not just a verbal declaration but a deep engagement with the text, a commitment to uncovering and conveying its truths. The preacher, in this context, is both a scholar and a steward, tasked with the responsibility of bringing forth the richness of biblical teachings in a manner that resonates with his audience.

Moreover, the nature of preaching as both a divine and human endeavor highlights the role of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit not only inspires and guides the preacher but also prepares the hearts of listeners to receive the message. This dual aspect of preaching adds a profound depth to the act, transforming it from mere speaking to a spiritual encounter. In this encounter, the voice of the preacher intertwines with the whisper of the Spirit, creating a space where the sacred and the human intersect. It's in this space that words transcend their syllables, becoming vessels of divine truth and wisdom.

This theological perspective on preaching brings into focus the transformative power inherent in the act. Preaching is more than the delivery of a religious monologue; it’s a dynamic interaction with the divine. As the preacher articulates the truths of Scripture, these truths are not just heard but experienced, not just understood but felt. This experience is where hearts are stirred, minds are renewed, and lives are altered. It's a journey that takes the listener beyond the realm of the immediate, into a deeper understanding of their faith and their relationship with the divine.

In essence, preaching is a bridge between the eternal and the temporal, the divine and the human. It's a bridge that carries the timeless truths of the Bible across time and culture, depositing them into the hearts and minds of believers. This bridge is not one-way; it allows for a flow of divine wisdom into human understanding and human response back to God. As such, preaching is a dialogue, a sacred conversation that enriches, challenges, and transforms both the speaker and the listener.


Commissioning to preach is not a matter of personal ambition or self-declaration. It is a sacred trust, a divine calling acknowledged and affirmed by the church community. This commissioning goes beyond a mere formal ceremony; it is a profound recognition of God's hand upon an individual, calling them to steward the mysteries of the gospel. Paul’s words to Timothy resonate deeply here, "Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season" (2 Timothy 4:2, NKJV). This charge, given under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wasn't merely for Timothy; it extends to all who are called to this holy vocation.

In this commissioning, there lies a weighty responsibility – to rightly divide the word of truth, to speak not just from human wisdom but as a mouthpiece of the Lord. The gravity of this responsibility is captured in James' caution, "My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment" (James 3:1, NKJV). It's a sobering reminder that the call to preach is not for the faint-hearted or the casual believer, but for those who have been set apart, tested, and approved, to handle the sacred truths of Scripture.

The process of commissioning also serves as a means of accountability. The preacher is not an island unto himself but is intricately connected to the body of Christ. This interconnectedness provides a system of support, counsel, and correction, essential for any who would take on the mantle of preaching. As Paul counseled the church in Galatia, "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2, NKJV). In the context of preaching, this mutual bearing of burdens ensures that the preacher remains grounded in the truth, humble in spirit, and sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

This divine calling is accompanied by a personal transformation – a molding and shaping by God's hand. The preacher does not remain static; they grow in grace, wisdom, and knowledge. This growth is not just for the benefit of the preacher but for the edification of the church. As Peter exhorts, "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18, NKJV). This growth is not a solitary journey, but one undertaken within the community of believers, where the preacher, though a leader, is also a learner, continually being conformed to the image of Christ.

In essence, the commissioning to preach is a sacred joining of divine calling and human obedience. It is a journey marked by humility, growth, and accountability, undergirded by a profound sense of responsibility to rightly handle the word of truth. The preacher, though an earthen vessel, is entrusted with the treasure of the gospel, called to shine the light of Christ's truth in a world in need of hope.

Preach The Word

Preaching, in its truest form, is the proclamation of God's Word. This isn't a modern concept or innovation; it's as old as Christianity itself, deeply rooted in the fabric of the faith. The aim of preaching isn't just to disseminate information. It’s about transformation — not just filling heads with knowledge, but steering hearts towards change. This task has been passed down through generations, holding the weight and truth of divine revelation, much like the prophets and apostles who faithfully delivered God's message.

Look at the example of Jesus, our ultimate model in preaching. His teachings, found throughout the Gospels, weren't mere speeches. They were powerful, transformative declarations of God's kingdom. Take, for example, the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7. Here, Christ doesn't just offer moral teachings; He presents the principles of God's kingdom in a way that's meant to turn the world upside down. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven," He asserts in Matthew 5:3. Each word of Jesus was carefully chosen, aimed at reshaping lives according to God's will. The apostles, too, followed this path. Peter’s words in Acts 2:38, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit,” were not just informative but transformative, cutting to the very heart of those who heard them.

Preaching, then, is far more than a simple lecture or presentation. It's a sacred exchange where God's eternal truths intersect with our daily lives. Like the prophets who spoke as God's mouthpieces and Christ who revealed God’s final word, preaching continues this divine-human conversation. It’s not just about delivering a message; it's about guiding the congregation in an encounter with God's word. The preacher is a steward of this sacred dialogue, tasked with bridging the gap between Scripture and the listener's experience.

Therefore, preaching must be deeply rooted in Scripture. Every sermon must be firmly anchored in the Bible, drawing its substance and authority from God's Word. As Paul instructed Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:16, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." This foundational truth ensures that the preached message resonates with the heart and mind of God, not merely the thoughts of the preacher.

In conclusion, preaching is a high calling, a stewardship of God's truth. It demands faithfulness, integrity, and reverence for God's Word. It's more than a job; it's a divine calling to be God's voice to a world in need of His truth and grace. If you are called to this calling, embrace it with humility and boldness, ever dependent on the Holy Spirit to guide you in faithfully delivering His message.


In the solemn task of preaching, a man of God finds himself standing at the crossroads of divine truth and human need. This sacred duty, rooted deeply in the Scriptures, is not merely an act of conveying information; it is a profound responsibility to steward the mysteries of God faithfully. Expository preaching, a method refined and revered, involves a systematic journey through the Bible, revealing its truths verse by verse. This approach, far from being a dry recitation of texts, is a vibrant exposition of the living Word that engages both the mind and the heart.

The apostle Paul, in his second letter to Timothy, as mentioned earlier implores, "Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching" (2 Timothy 4:2 NKJV). Here, Paul captures the essence of expository preaching. It is not just about explaining the text; it's about applying its truths to the everyday lives of the listeners. This method ensures that the entire counsel of God is presented, leaving no stone unturned, no truth hidden. The preacher, like a skilled craftsman, must labor diligently in the word, ensuring that the congregation is nourished with the whole breadth of Scripture.

In the heart of every true preacher, there must reside a deep love for both the Scripture and the people to whom he ministers. This love manifests itself in a relentless commitment to truth and a compassionate approach to teaching. As seen in Isaiah's profound encounter with the holiness of God, "Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts" (Isaiah 6:5 NKJV), a preacher must first be struck by the weight of God's glory himself. Only then can he, with authenticity and humility, lead others to the same awe-inspiring revelation.

Expository preaching is, therefore, more than a method; it is a mission. It is a journey through the vast expanse of God's Word, discovering and uncovering the riches of His grace, the depths of His love, and the heights of His holiness. It is to walk the congregation through the grand narrative of redemption, from Genesis to Revelation, making clear the redemptive work of Christ in all of Scripture. In doing so, the preacher does not stand above his congregation but journeys with them, as a fellow traveler, eager to see the transformation that the Spirit of God brings through the faithful preaching of the Word.

Christ Centered

In the grand narrative of Scripture, the art of preaching finds its pinnacle in the revelation of Christ, woven through the intricate tapestry of redemptive history. As preachers, we are tasked with more than just relaying historical events or moral teachings; we are called to unfold the redemptive plan of God as it culminates in Jesus Christ. This task is akin to piecing together a divine puzzle, where every piece from Genesis to Revelation, though distinct, forms an integral part of a cohesive whole. When we interpret the Old Testament, we must do so with Christ at the forefront of our minds, for in Him, the shadows of the past find their substance.

Consider, for instance, the poignant story of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis. Here we see a father's unwavering faith and a son's willing submission, culminating in God providing a ram in place of Isaac. This narrative, while complete in its historical context, reaches its fullness in the New Testament. In the act of God providing His own Son, Jesus, as the ultimate sacrifice, the story of Abraham and Isaac transcends time and space, offering us a profound glimpse into God’s salvation plan. "God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering," said Abraham (Genesis 22:8). And so He did, in the person of Jesus Christ, a truth affirmed in John 1:29 where John the Baptist declares, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!"

Likewise, the exodus narrative, where the Israelites are delivered from Egyptian bondage, prefigures the greater deliverance accomplished by Christ. As the Passover lamb's blood shielded the Israelites from the angel of death, so too does the blood of Christ shield us from eternal death. This is not mere coincidence but divine orchestration. Paul captures this beautifully in 1 Corinthians 5:7, “For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.” Such connections are not just theological constructs but are the very fibers that knit the fabric of Scripture.

In preaching, then, we do more than narrate; we illuminate Christ in the text. This task requires diligence, a heart attuned to the Spirit, and a deep love for the Word. Each sermon should be a journey through redemptive history, a journey that not only informs but transforms. It is a journey that starts in the Garden of Eden and ends at the empty tomb, a journey where every turn, every twist, every peak, and every valley points to one person – Jesus Christ. Our preaching, therefore, should be a mirror reflecting the grandeur of this redemptive journey, inviting our listeners to behold, not just a historical figure, but the living Christ, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).


In the sacred task of preaching, the preacher must not only be a teacher of profound theological concepts but also a shepherd who tenderly cares for his flock. This dual role of a preacher is both a privilege and a profound responsibility. The Apostle Paul, in his pastoral epistles, underscores this responsibility. It's not merely about imparting knowledge, but about shaping lives, molding character, and guiding the congregation through the ups and downs of their spiritual journey.

The heart of pastoral preaching lies in its ability to connect the timeless truths of Scripture to the everyday experiences of the believer. It's about bringing the high and lofty doctrines down to the level where they intersect with daily life. When preaching on the Beatitudes, for instance, the preacher must not only expound on the theological significance of Jesus' words but also demonstrate how they apply to the modern believer’s challenges and struggles. It is in this application that the Word becomes a living and active force, transforming hearts and minds.

Moreover, pastoral preaching is characterized by a deep, personal investment in the congregation's spiritual growth. The preacher, much like a shepherd, knows his sheep by name, understands their struggles, and guides them with compassion and wisdom. This shepherding aspect of preaching is beautifully portrayed in the Gospel of John, where Jesus refers to Himself as the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep (John 10:11). The preacher, following Christ's example, must also exhibit this selfless love and dedication, ensuring that his preaching nurtures and nourishes the spiritual life of his congregation.

The effectiveness of pastoral preaching is also measured by its ability to inspire practical Christian living. It's one thing to teach about love, grace, and forgiveness; it's quite another to show believers how to live out these virtues in their personal relationships, workplaces, and communities. The epistle of James emphasizes this practical aspect of faith: "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves" (James 1:22). Pastoral preaching should, therefore, be a catalyst for action, stirring the hearts of listeners to live out their faith authentically and boldly.

In conclusion, pastoral preaching is a vital aspect of the ministry, one that goes beyond mere teaching to include nurturing, guiding, and caring for the spiritual well-being of the congregation. It requires a balance of theological depth and practical wisdom, coupled with a genuine love for the people. As preachers, we are called to embody this pastoral heart in our preaching, ensuring that our sermons are not just informative, but transformative, leading our congregations to a deeper, more meaningful relationship with the Master.

Concluding Thoughts

In the sacred task of preaching, we find its true culmination within the context of the Christian assembly. This is where the preached Word transcends mere information dissemination and becomes a dynamic interaction between the preacher, the congregation, and God Himself. It's a spiritual exchange where hearts are not just informed, but transformed. As the Apostle Paul exhorts in Ephesians 4:11-13, Christ Himself gave pastors and teachers to edify the body of Christ, until we all reach the unity of faith and the knowledge of the Son of God. This divine orchestration is not a mere gathering of individuals, but a collective journey towards spiritual maturity, a journey where each sermon is a step closer to the stature of the fullness of Christ.

Yet, the impact of preaching extends beyond the walls of the assembly. It demands a response, a calling for faith and obedience that resonates in the daily lives of the hearers. The preaching of God’s Word is a clarion call to action, an invitation to live out the truths heard and internalized. This is not a passive listening but an active engagement, where the seeds of the Word take root in fertile hearts, producing the fruit of righteousness. The preached Word, therefore, is not confined to a moment in time but becomes a living, breathing reality in the lives of God's people.

In closing, let us hold fast to the profound reality that preaching is far more than a mere transfer of knowledge. It is a sacred transaction where heaven touches earth, where the eternal truths of Scripture are woven into the very fabric of our being. Let us approach this holy ground with reverence, with hearts open and ready to receive, and with lives willing to be transformed. As we continue on this path, may we always cherish the profound privilege of sitting under the preaching of God’s Word, and may it continually be a lamp to our feet and a light to our path, guiding us ever closer to the heart of our Savior.

For Further Study:

Lectures to My Students by Charles H. Spurgeon

Preaching and Preachers By D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Preaching with Purpose By Jay E. Adams