It is often said that the real issue in preaching is not ‘How to?’ but ‘How can?’ How can a preacher stand before a congregation and dare to speak ‘In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’? The ‘How can?’ is by far the more pressing question. And yet, in the textbooks, at the conferences and in preaching groups it seems the ‘How to?’ is the perennial concern.
“The Preaching of the Word of God is the Word of God. Wherefore when this Word of God is now preached in the church by preachers lawfully called, we believe that the very Word of God is proclaimed and received by the faithful.” 1
The reformers viewed preaching as God’s own word proclaimed in His name, by His power and with His authority. More to the point this is the Bible’s own teaching, as we’ll see. Proclamation of the word of Christ is not simply an explanation and application of the Bible. It is itself a divine encounter in which the Spirit again confronts the hearers with the omnipotent force of God’s own Word.
In the face of such an audacious claim, the ‘How to?’ must be put on hold. This seminar seeks a theology of revelation that is able to address the question ‘How can a preacher dare to speak the word of the LORD?’ What is the nature of divine revelation such that this is even possible? Once we have we addressed this we will find that the ‘How to?’ has been decisively and much more faithfully shaped.
Encountering the Speaking God
Let’s begin at the beginning. Our God is the Speaking God. The eternal life of Father, Son and Spirit has ever been an out-going, communicative life. Because our God simply is Trinity there has never been such a thing as a God who then comes to speech.
From the overflow of this communicative life came creation. Again, by His Word and through the Spirit, God brought all things into being (Genesis 1; Psalm 33:6; John 1:1-4). The universe exists in correspondence to God’s Word. “God said… and it was.” This means that to be is to be an obedient hearer of the Word. The universe ifxs His congregation and, derivatively, His herald (Psalm 19:1-6). Humanity, as the pinnacle of creation, is supremely called to appropriate God’s revelation. Our vocation, not simply as Christians but as creatures, is to receive the Word. And in receiving the Word we participate in the life of the Speaking God.