Priority of Proclamation

In Ready for Reformation?: Bringing Authentic Reform to Southern Baptist Churches (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2005) Tom Nettles writes about, among other topics, the primacy of preaching and its importance for Christianity in general and Baptist churches in particular.  He asserts:

Truth must be preached fully, saturatingly, unrelentingly, without compromise, from beginning to end through argument, illustrations, conclusions, and applications.  The hearer, believer or unbeliever, must never get any relief from the bombardment of truth.  The amount of misinformation and false pleasures trumpeted by the prince of the power of the air pours down unremittingly from the world system on the Christian.  He is pummeled with error, tantalized with lust, baited by power, assaulted by worldly glamour, and modeled by an amoral system mercilessly opposed to righteousness.  Christian holiness built on an absolute standard of righteousness appears to the world as a judgmental, hateful, venomous kind of hypocrisy.  He must cope in a world that glorifies and rewards self-centeredness, repression, and hate.


The believer’s only opportunity to hear an argument mounted against the torrent of temporality pressed daily and hourly into his consciousness comes when a Christian minister stands to preach the Word of God.  Will he hear anything that challenges and strips bare the lies that have been pressed on him from every quarter?  Or will he hear a few assertions from a biblical text surrounded by warm stories garnished with the trappings of sentimentality and never enter substantially into the truth?  Will he be called on without doctrinal to pull himself together and get with it for Christ, decide to do right, and make Christ the center of his life?

The sentence that captured by attention was when Nettles said “The hearer, believer or unbeliever, must never get any relief from the bombardment of truth.”  This is arguably one of our fundamental, Baptist “sanctified” seeker-sensitive approaches, viz., we hesitantly preach weighty truth for fear it will “go over people’s heads” or we don’t wish to abide in the arena of “dry theology.”  As noble as this motive is, it seems to me that we as pastors should be challenged to set before our hearers weighty and substantial truths that lead to their salvation and sanctification.  If it is true that orthodoxy is the foundation for orthopraxy, we should be faithfully declaring concentrated doses of orthodoxy which will lay foundations for deeper affection for God as well as a greater desire to please Him.  This correlation between right doctrine and right practice is articulated by Paul in Colossians 1:10 “so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (ESV). 


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