The Theology of Preaching

By Crawford Loritts

What is the biblical, foundational purpose and function of preaching? To find the answer, we must depend on the Word of God to teach us how to preach the truth from its pages.

Preaching from God’s Word

Let’s talk a little bit about the theology of preaching. Now, the purpose of this article is not to give a comprehensive theology of preaching, but I want to make three summary observations that come from my conclusion about the Bible’s teachings on preaching.

1. Preaching is a word from God

The first summary observation is a definition. Preaching is a word from God for the people at a moment in history, given in the power of the Holy Spirit. Now, preaching is not speech making; it is not giving a talk. Honestly, it’s not just pure communication, although great preaching is anchored by great communication.

No, preaching is delivering a message. It doesn’t reside in the person that’s preaching. The preacher is declaring a message. In fact, the Greek word translated for preaching has to do with a herald, someone tasked with relaying a message. This notion presupposes a submission on the part of the preacher that it’s not about him; it’s about dependence upon the One giving the message, which introduces the second summary of observation.

2. The goal of preaching is surrendering to Christ

In 1 Corinthians 2:1-5, the Apostle Paul says that the goal of preaching is to surrender to the person and work of Christ delivered in the power of the Spirit of God. Listen to these sobering words:

When I came to you, brothers and sisters, announcing the mystery of God to you, I did not come with brilliance of speech or wisdom. I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not be based on human wisdom but on God’s power.

Now, Paul is not saying that he discounted the use of great words, but what he is saying is that the goal of his presentation is not that people would feel good about how he said what he said.

No, the goal of his presentation was to exalt Jesus and to present Him as Lord and Savior. He preached not in his own strength and ingenuity, but he did it in the power of the Spirit.

3. Preaching is a stewardship

Now, the third summary observation concerning the theology of preaching is a passionate statement that the Apostle Paul gives to his young son Timothy. In 2 Timothy 4:1-2, the Apostle Paul says that preaching is an urgent, sacred stewardship. It’s not a gig or your craft or a job, but it is a sacred, solemn stewardship.

Listen to these words the Apostle Paul says: “I solemnly charge you before God and Christ Jesus, who is going to judge the living and the dead, and because of his appearing and his kingdom: Preach the word.

Did you hear those statements? It’s like he’s reaching out and grabbing Timothy by the lapels and saying, “When you stand up on Sunday morning, you’re not just giving some good advice. I charge you—no matter the occasion—to preach the word of God. This is central to who you are. It is a compelling assignment. It is a stewardship. It is not just something that I stand up and decide for myself, ‘Okay, what should I say on Sunday morning?'”

No, you’re delivering the sacred truth to a group of people.

Remember Your “Why”

Preaching is a word from God for the people at a moment in history, delivered in and through the power of the Holy Spirit. So, based upon that definition, it presupposes calling, surrender, and the notion that we are going to deliver those goods no matter the occasion.

I want to encourage you to think wisely about preaching—not just about the transactional delivery, although that’s terribly important, but to understand the “why” behind it: that it is a great stewardship. It is a calling, and we stand to represent Jesus Christ and point people to Him, God willing, without distraction.

Adapted from “The Theology of Preaching” from the Preaching Masterclass. Watch this video and more for free by signing up for the Masterclass today.

Published May 20, 2024

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Crawford Loritts

Crawford Loritts has traveled throughout the U.S. and much of the world, speaking in churches, evangelistic outreaches, conferences, colleges and seminaries. He has been the featured speaker at Super Bowls, NCAA Final Four Chapel and the Pentagon with senior military officers. He has been a church planter, served for 27 years on the staff of Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) and served for 15 years as Sr. Pastor of Fellowship Bible Church, Roswell, Georgia. He and his wife, Karen, have been featured speakers at FamilyLife marriage conferences. Crawford is the author of 9 books including Your Marriage Today … and Tomorrow, co-authored with Karen. He is the host of two national radio programs, the weekend program Living a Legacy and the daily program Legacy MomentsCrawford is President and Founder of Beyond Our Generation and is committed to encouraging and helping to shape the next generation of Christian leaders. Crawford and Karen have 4 adult children and 11 grandchildren.