Contend Earnestly: Is the Preacher Necessary?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Is the Preacher Necessary?

I know that I am opening a can of worms here. First, I want to say that I strongly believe that the whole purpose of the church is to preach the word of God. She is to edify, She is to proclaim, She is to be the voice of the one crying out in the wilderness. I personally preach and teach once or twice a week, so I am not trying to downplay preaching. I understand that the prophets of old and the preachers in the coming of the church age (all through Acts and so on) were center of God's redemptive plan for sinners. They were called to preach the good news and so are we. So, please understand that I completely believe that the preaching is the center for the Lord's Day, that without it there is no church service and that without the preaching there is no reason for us to come together as God's people every Sunday morning at exactly 11am. ;)

So, you might ask, "Why this post?" This post is to try to understand, "Is the preacher absolutely necessary to God?" Does he have to have the preacher for people to be saved and Christians to be edified? I am writing this post based on a discussion that is happening over at Reforming Baptist and it really is something that comes out of the IFB placing too much emphasis on the preacher and not on God, in my opinion. I have read many articles in their papers and seen many advertisements that show how long a preacher has been preaching, how many people are in his church and how many people HE has saved. This, to me, is sickening.

So, is the preacher necessary for God to save people?

Here is the quick definition of the term necessary: absolutely needed; required

God does say many times through the apostle Paul that God uses preaching and it is definitely the chosen instrument that he has chosen to use to save people. We see this in Romans 10 and we also see this when Paul says in 1 Cor 1:21 that God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.

This is how God ordained this. But to say that it is necessary would be a little strong for me to swallow...I think. I say "I think" because I am really opening this up for discussion to see what my brothers and sisters in Christ think about this subject.

Here is why I say that necessary is a little too strong.

nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things;
Acts 17:25

God doesn't need anything. He gives life, he takes life. He literally needs nothing to accomplish his will. Now, does he choose us to help accomplish his will? Yes. Does he have to? No.

We also find in 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 the following:

I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.
1 Corinthians 3:6-7

Did Paul and Apollos do exactly what they were called to do? Yes. But who caused the growth? God. So much so, that God says that Paul and Apollos are nothing. The chapter then goes on to tell of the great and glorious foundation in Christ.

Here are the two that seem to speak of necessity vs. useful means.

Christ says this about his disciples:

As soon as He was approaching, near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles which they had seen, shouting: “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord; Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” But Jesus answered, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!”
Luke 19:37-40

So, we can see that Jesus says that if the disciples were silenced that God would cause the stones to cry out for the coming King. What this is showing is that we are not necessary but the message preached is necessary. That Christ is necessary. That God is so much in control and so sovereign that if the voice of those who proclaim become silent that God will use stones to cry out for Him.

I believe this is what is happening in the Muslim countries where we are seeing many Muslims come to Christ, not by preaching of a human preacher, but through visions of Christ preaching the message to them that He is truly the God/Man, the Saviour, the Christ. A truly Pauline experience.

Here is the other and then I will leave it up for discussion:

The setting here is that Joshua and the Israelites were just destroyed at Ai because of the sin of Achan. Joshua has the audacity to proclaim the following to God:

Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the Lord until the evening, both he and the elders of Israel; and they put dust on their heads. Joshua said, “Alas, O Lord God, why did You ever bring this people over the Jordan, only to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? If only we had been willing to dwell beyond the Jordan!“O Lord, what can I say since Israel has turned their back before their enemies? “For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear of it, and they will surround us and cut off our name from the earth. And what will You do for Your great name?” Joshua 7:6-9

Joshua basically says that if he and the Israelites aren't around that God's name will be removed from the face of the earth. He basically is saying the same thing that Christ says, "if these disciples are silenced..." Joshua has the audacity to think that he is necessary for God's plan of glorifying his name. Look at what God says, it is almost funny:

So the Lord said to Joshua, “Rise up! Why is it that you have fallen on your face?
Joshua 7:10

Modern translation: Joshua you look like a moron, get up, I have no actual need for you.

Joshua is showing that he is truly scared and frightened that God's name will be removed if the Israelites are destroyed. God says, "Please...I don't need you...get up"

What I don't want to happen with those that don't know me is to just think that I don't place enough emphasis on preaching. That is not the case. I believe that God has told us that it is a must, that he uses the preacher to accomplish his will and that if we don't preach and proclaim that we are in sin. What I am trying to get across is that we are not absolutely necessary and therefore should get absolutely no glory for doing so. It is God who causes the growth, it is God's will that is done, apart from Christ we cannot do anything and those in the flesh cannot please God.

All these point to one thing: preaching points to the necessity of the Saviour, not the preacher.

Thoughts? Have I gone too far in this thinking? Let me have it!


Anonymous said...


here is my spin on this seeing I too have been ordained to public ministry.

Paul writes:

Eph 4:11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,
Eph 4:12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
Eph 4:13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,
Eph 4:14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
Eph 4:15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,
Eph 4:16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Just by those words alone many a ministry has been birthed into the American way!

But when you add these words for understanding of what this means, meanings change about "who is the preacher":::>

Rom 1:11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you--
Rom 1:12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine.

And when you add this Word from Peter to those two Words from Paul you might just wonder why more of the purposes of the Church have not been accomplished yet?

Here is what Peter reveals and after I will quote the capstone verse:::>

1Pe 2:4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious,
1Pe 2:5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
1Pe 2:6 For it stands in Scripture: "Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame."

Mat 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

It seems to me the one man pulpit preacher just does not cut it in my reasonings about these things.

The work of the ministry, it seems to me, is a full time ministry of God through the Church dwelling in selected mankind called out from every nation, tribe and kindred and tongue and people by the sanctification work of the Holy Ghost.

Paul wrote this and add this to the mixture of thoughts above as my final admonition to any whose hunger grows to be in "full" time ministry:::>

Rom 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
Rom 15:14 I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.
Rom 15:15 But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God
Rom 15:16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
Rom 15:17 In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God.
Rom 15:18 For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience--by word and deed,
Rom 15:19 by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God--so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ;
Rom 15:20 and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else's foundation,
Rom 15:21 but as it is written, "Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand."

Baptist Man said...


Here's the bottom line. You said the MESSAGE PREACHED is necessary.

How do you have a message preached without a preacher?

It doesn't matter if it's a person, a stone or anything else for that matter. In the end, the preacher is nothing (1 Corinthians 3). But he is certainly necessary.

Seth McBee said...

Baptist Man.

Not sure if you read my post, or if you just came on to get a comment on the board.

You can have the message preached by something or someone besides a preacher...a stone or Christ himself in visions and dreams.

Not sure if you looked at the definition of necessary, but if you did and you still think that God absolutely needs the are highly mistaken.

Again, look to Acts 17:25 or look to what I said about Christ and the stones and also with the whole nation of Israel in Joshua 7...the point is...

The preacher is not necessary, but the message preached is because it is about the whole aim of all things: God and His Glory.

When you say the preacher is an absolute necessity for God...I think you are walking a fine line that can be dangerous...

But, I am also not sure what you feel about God's sovereignty in regards to reformed theology.

If you are not in the reformed camp on the sovereignty of God, then I can see why you would make this error.

Baptist Man said...


Question: Can a message be preached without a preacher?

NO. If you disagree with that, then I am dealing with someone who disregards simple logic.

Now, follow slowly...

You said, "You can have the message preached by something or someone besides a preacher...a stone or Christ himself in visions and dreams."

You're agreeing with my statement, "It doesn't matter if it's a person, a stone or anything else for that matter."

A message cannot be preached without a preacher, therefore the preacher is necessary. The preacher could be Christ, a stone, my pastor, the grass, a doesn't matter! But without a preacher, there is no message preached.

It's not that hard. You're actually agreeing with me. You just haven't figured it out yet.

Seth McBee said...

Baptist Man.
I guess I should have been more clear, but I figured that when I was speaking about a preacher people would understand that I was talking of a human.

Guess not.

Again, this stemmed from Will D.'s post on the IFB's emphasis on the preacher in regards to salvation...

Which is garbage.

Anonymous said...


Could you use the word "rubbish" from now on, as that word garbage stinks! :)

I am just being a bit touchie feelie now!! You know I have to have messages preached to me the way I like them!!!

Just a thought for Baptist man though. Baptist man, you know, when we train our young boys and girls in our community of Believers to live in the world of godlessness controlled by the devil, [the world and the devil hate them too], we first start with hardening their skin and softening their hearts so that they can be so so soft dealing with sinners like themselves!

Grammy Blick said...

While I do not believe a preacher is necessary for salvation, neither do I wish to ignore the importance of their calling. How does the following fit into your discussion?

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
(Romans 10:13-15 KJV)

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