One of the most fundamental truths to understand about the church’s corporate gathering is that Jesus is a giver.
Jesus, our Savior and salvation — the one to whom we are united by faith — gave himself to us by becoming like us. He then gave himself to us by dying in our place. And still today, every week when the church meets, he gives himself to us through the preaching of his word and the sharing of his Supper.
This matters because, as surely as we have received him as the God-man and trusted in his finished work, we should anticipate that there is yet more of him to experience in weekend worship.
More of Christ
More of Christ, after all, is the great aim of the Christian life. Paul’s goal in ministry was to present everyone mature in Christ (Colossians 1:28). His one-thing-I-do ambition was to know Christ more (Philippians 3:10–14). His great prayer for the church was that Christ dwell in our hearts (Ephesians 3:17) — with the view of us reaching the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:13), that is, to grow up in every way into Christ (Ephesians 4:15).
It really is all about Jesus.
And exactly how we get more of him is chiefly through the means of grace he has ordained — the word and the “sacraments” of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, or as Marcus Peter Johnson calls it, “the audible and visible gospel” (see chapter 8, One with Christ). But for now, let’s just focus on the word part — the audible gospel, the preaching.
Many of us know that Bible-intake is fundamental to our sanctification. It’s the bread and butter of spiritual growth. And many of us also know that “not neglecting to meet together” is another habit on the path to spiritual maturity. But have we seen the relationship between the two? Have we connected the dots that one of the primary means of grace in the worship event is Jesus extending himself to us through his preached word?
Setting Himself Forth
In Preaching: A Biblical Theology, Jason Meyer makes the case that the faithful preaching of God’s word is always an encounter with God himself. This means that through the heralding of his gospel, through the vocal means of a human minister, Jesus sets himself forth to be believed and enjoyed.
It matters little who the preacher is, or how skilled he is in communication, or the measure of his IQ, as long as he is faithfully unfolding the text of Scripture. It’s in that moment when the very presence of Jesus is mediated to us. Jesus himself, by the power of his Spirit, comes to sit by us, to speak to us, to effect more of his likeness in our lives, to deepen our union. Therefore, we are freed to walk into the corporate gathering with this kind of expectation.
This is what Jesus does when his word is proclaimed, and we ask, is the preaching any good?