Wednesday, August 17, 2011

How shall they hear? Exhortation Three: Hearing Christ in Preaching

I began last Sunday's message, How shall they hear? (Romans 10:14-15) by noting: "Today I stand as a preacher who is going to speak to you about a preacher, the apostle Paul, who wrote about the centrality of preaching." At the end of the message I offered four closing exhortations. Here is the third of the four:

Third, Paul implies here that when a man listens to true preaching he is in fact listening to Christ himself:

Notice how Paul stresses the act of hearing: “how shall they hear without a preacher?” What is it that men are to hear in preaching? They are to hear the voice of their shepherd (John 10:27:  "My sheep hear my voice...").

When Jesus sent out the seventy to preach in his name in Luke 10, he instructed them:  "He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me."

Likewise, in Ephesians 4, Paul writes to the Ephesians about how they have received preaching and teaching about Jesus and he says:  "But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus" (vv. 20-21).

When would they have heard him and been taught by him? When they heard the apostles and the officers of their local churches (elders, pastors and teacher) preach the gospel to them.

John Murray confirms that “a striking feature” of this text “is that Christ is represented as being heard in the gospel when proclaimed by the sent messengers. The implication is that Christ speaks in the gospel proclamation” (Romans, Vol. 2, p. 58). He adds that “the dignity of the messengers” is “derived from the fact that they are the Lord’s spokesmen.”

Here is a frightening thing to consider for many a church that has abused the ministers sent to her: When they have spurned God’s minister and the message given through him they have often spurned Christ himself.

Boice adds along a similar line: “When I (and any other minister) stands up to teach the Bible, if I do it rightly, it is not my word you are hearing. It is the Word of God, and the voice you hear in your heart is the voice of Christ. So, if you do not like what I am saying, do not get angry with me. I am only the postman. My job is just to deliver the letters. And when you respond do not think that you are responding to me. You are responding to Jesus, who is calling you through the appointed channel of sound preaching” (Romans, Vol. 3, p. 1241).

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