November 20: Van Horn on Preaching God’s Word

The following devotional is addressed to theological students, but I think others should find it profitable as well, if only to know and realize something of the standard to which pastors are called.

To God’s Glory : A Devotional Study of the Reformed Faith for Theological Students.
by Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn

The Subject : The Authoritative Preaching of God’s Word, part 1.

The Bible Verses to Read : II Tim. 4:1-8; Rom. 10:15; I Cor. 12:28-29; I Tim. 4:14.

Every book, every series of articles must have a beginning. And, there should be a reason for their existence. The experiences of the writer in theological seminaries both as a student and as a workman, coupled with the following statement by Dr. Benjamin B. Garfield, motivated this first in a series of articles : “You are students of theology; and, just because you are students of theology, it is understood that you are religious men – especially religious men, to whom the cultivation of your religious life is a matter of profoundest concern . . . ” (Selected Shorter Writings, vol. I, p. 412).

The day is not too far off when you will stand behind God’s Holy Desk to proclaim the Gospel of Grace You will find yourself in a minority, even among evangelicals. It is the trend of the day to entertain and to present a shallow Gospel rather than preach the Doctrines of Grace.

God, in His sovereign pleasure, has ordained some to preach the Word of God. Those called of God to this task must recognize they are preaching an authoritative Word and are preaching it on God’s authority. John Calvin said, “Let the preachers boldly dare all things by the Word of God, of which they are constituted administrators. Let them constrain all the power, glory, and excellence of the world to give place to, and to obey, the divine majesty of the Word. Let them enjoin everyone by it, from the highest to the lowest. Let them edify the body of Christ.

This will be your task. It will be impossible for you to do it unless you are walking in the Spirit. There will be no place for your egotism, your desire for popularity, your arrogance. You must face the ministry with two “Woes” ever before you :
(1) Woe is unto me if I preach not the Gospel;
(2) Woe is unto me if I do not heed the Word of God myself.

You must realize the souls of men are involved. Paul told the Ephesian elders that he was “pure from the blood of all men.” Such must be your goal and you can only reach it as you understand your calling and commission, as you have a burden for those entrusted to your care, as you desire to please your Lord.

It is obvious the man of God must know God’s Word if he will fulfill His calling to preach it authoritatively. What is even more obvious is the necessary desire on the part of the preacher to glorify God and to magnify Christ in his preaching. When you enter the pulpit it must be with an awesome consciousness of Who you represent, and of how you must represent Him.

Our Shorter Catechism Question 89 states the preaching of the Word of God is especially “an effectual means of convincing and converting sinners, and of building them up in holiness and comfort, through faith, unto salvation.” Since it then is the primary means of grace, how can you allow yourselves to be preoccupied with other things, how can you be unconcerned about your submission to God’s Word in all things?

As you think of preaching the authoritative Word of God, in an authoritative way, may you be exhorted by Paul : “Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth.” Be certain that your necessary, and important, studies do not wean you away from the living, vital relationship with Jesus Christ in which you give Him the preeminence in all things. There is no greater task than the one to which you feel called by God.

“To God’s Glory” by Leonard T. Van Horn. Centerville, AL, circa March 1977.

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