The preparation of the preacher

The following can be established biblically more by referring the broad biblical principles than to specific verses, though the latter are certainly not lacking.

I will subdivide the concept of preparation into remote and immediate. Starting with remote preparation:

1. First of all, it is not only sensible but mandatory for the preacher to obtain all the formal training possible and available for him. The existence of seminaries, colleges, and Christian academies proves how the church has taken heed of Paul's guidelines concerning the future prosperity of the church: "And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also" (2 Timothy 2:2). In her organized state (and the church should be organized) what better way to accomplish this than to get a viable academic and spiritual training?

2. The preacher should be prepared in that he should never stop learning: learning the Bible itself, allowing the Word to master him and learn to be submissive to it himself.

He should continue his study of theology, both biblical and systematic, as well as read sound Christian literature of the giants of the past.

3. The preacher should be prepared by being disciplined enough to set aside specific times for study. He must prove himself to be a resource person for the whole congregation.

Coming now to the concept of immediate preparation of the preacher, the following observations should be helpful:

1. As the preacher prepares his sermons week by week, how is he to go about it? Firstly, he should be aware of textual problems. Being convinced that the Massoretic Text and the Textus Receptus convey the true preserved text of Scripture, he should all the same be conscious of variant spelling, different word order, or insignificant additions or omissions.

2. He should also study the text scientifically, that is, using a sound hermeneutic and getting to the purpose of the author in writing that specific passage. "For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ" (2 Corinthians 2:17).

3. His sermon must have unity, clarity, and incisiveness, and spoken with love, for the good of the people (1 Corinthians 13:1ff.).

4. It must be delivered with a sense of burden and urgency, relying on the Holy Spirit to bless, to convict souls, to convert people. Here, a vital aspect of preparedness is prayer before and after the sermon. Paul frequently requested intercession on his behalf, "Brethren, pray for us" (1 Thessalonians 5:25); "Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds, that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak" (Colossians 4:3,4).

Without this adequate preparation, and this feeling of utter dependence upon God, the preacher can expect no eternal blessing accruing from his labour.