The word of God has the ability to reach into the innermost depths of our being and transform who and what we are. When the Gospel is properly heeded and applied, it produces abundant life (John 10:10). The words of the prophet Jeremiah, “O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the LORD”, ought to ring in our ears, for these words reflect our Creator’s greatest desire (Jer. 22:29). The word of God is “quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). It is the preaching of this powerful word that can strengthen and sustain the body of Christ in every age and through every challenge.
Jesus identified truth as the means of our liberation from the bondage of sin (John 8:32). When Paul came into the debauched city of Corinth, he preached the Gospel (1 Cor. 15:1-4). Paul proclaimed the power of God’s word to those who were living in sin and called upon them to submit to its transforming power (1 Cor. 6:9-11). God, who desires for “all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth”, has designed Gospel preaching to save souls from eternal damnation through knowledge (1 Tim. 2:4). By hearing the Gospel preached, the lost can come to the knowledge of Jesus Christ (Rom. 10:14). However, Jesus once warned, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3). It is through repentance that we come to the “acknowledging of the truth” that sets us free from Satan’s captivity (2 Tim. 2:25-26). Many of the Corinthians who heard the Gospel “believed, and were baptized” (Acts 18:8). They were washed, sanctified and justified in the name of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 6:11). In Paul’s letters to Timothy, knowledge and repentance are closely linked with salvation (1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Tim. 2:25). When the gospel is preached, the church is strengthened by seeing sinners repent of sin and debauchery and come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
While converting sinners is an important purpose of Gospel preaching, equally important is the edification of the saints. When Paul left Timothy at Ephesus to build up the saints in the most holy faith, he exhorted him to “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Tim. 4:2). In order to develop Christian character, those who are converted out of darkness need to hear consistent Gospel preaching (2 Pet. 1:5-8). Paul said, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). Gospel preaching feeds our faith and helps us to grow in faith (2 Pet. 3:18; Col. 1:9-11)! Even the most mature of Christians needs to be built up and prepared to overcome temptation (Acts 20:32; 1 Cor. 10:13; Jas. 1:13-14). Through Gospel preaching, the Christian learns to deny ungodliness and worldly lust and “live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world” (Tit. 2:12). Truly, the bride of Christ is strengthened beyond measure when she sits at the feet of her Bridegroom receiving instruction from His word.
When we preach the preaching that God bids us, we can trust that His Word will not return unto Him void (Jonah 3:2; Isa. 55:11). In Mark 16:15, we read Jesus Christ’s marching orders to His church, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Through preaching, the church of our Lord will be strengthened, for the preaching of the gospel will convert sinners through the knowledge of God, it will bring the erring to repentance and it will edify God’s children. May every Christian share in Paul’s sentiment, “Woe unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” (1 Cor. 9:16). Let us lift up the hands of men who seek to strengthen the precious body of Christ through preaching.