The Primacy of Preaching -- By: Charles Wagner

Journal: Journal of Ministry and Theology
Volume: JMAT 02:1 (Spring 1998)
Article: The Primacy of Preaching
Author: Charles Wagner

The Primacy of Preaching

Charles Wagner

Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church
Covington, Kentucky

“The supreme work of the Christian ministry is the work of preaching,” so said one of the world’s finest preachers, G. Campbell Morgan. As the title notes, primacy of preaching is the subject of this article. By primacy we mean that preaching should take the greatest priority in our lives as Pastors. It should rank first in importance. Preaching should be the preeminent function of our lives, and Christ should be the preeminent subject of our preaching.

Our work should all converge behind the holy desk, where we stand with Bible in hand. The work of preaching, then, should be foremost, paramount. All other responsibilities will take a distant second or third place to this one. We need to thank God for the printed ministry, but the printed page can never take the place of the living preacher. While pastoral work is vital and we should not neglect it, we agree with the great Baptist preacher Broadus, who said, “It cannot take the place of preaching, nor fully compensate for lack of power in the pulpit.”

Religious ceremonies are also instructive and needed. Referring primarily to the two great ordinances of the church, they should illustrate and help the great work of winning men to Christ. However, our primary responsibility should be preaching. In fact, when the apostle Paul said that, by observing the Lord’s Table, “ye do [show] the Lord’s death till he come” (1 Cor 11:26), he used the same word that is translated “preach” in other places; even the ordinances become part and parcel of the preaching ministry.

Having alluded to the meaning of primacy and understanding that preaching is our supreme work, we need to understand the meaning of preaching itself. Eight words in the New Testament deal with some phase of preaching. Two of them, however, are of greatest interest to us. One means literally

“to preach the gospel”; the other carries with it the idea of “proclaiming from the throne.” These meanings led G. Campbell Morgan to define preaching as “the declaration of the grace of God to human need on the authority of the throne of God; and it demands on the part of those who hear that they show obedience to the things declared.”1

The difference between teaching and preaching, therefore, should be apparent. Teaching is the dissemination of truth that is assimilated by humans. It may or may not have an effect upon their conduct; but preaching is more ...

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