The Preacher is a Witness to the Lord Jesus Christ

The late Dr. John Stott’s magnificent book The Preacher’s Portrait describes five roles that a pastor-preacher fills in serving the church of Jesus Christ.  Whereas the role of the steward is a domestic metaphor, which “takes us into a house,” and the role of the herald is a political metaphor, which “takes us into the open air, perhaps a street or marketplace,” the metaphor of the witness is legal—it takes us into the lawcourts.

It is required that a witness has both experienced something, and then is willing and capable of giving an truthful account of what was experienced.  Dr. Stott writes that there are two primary requirements of the preacher who acts as a witness: experience and humility.

The nature of experience required is not of much preaching experience, or advanced academic preparation.  It is rather the experience of living in personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  Without such a living relationship, the preacher is simply speaking about something that happened, or happens, to someone else, but not himself/herself.  The “testimony” would at best be only hearsay.

Likewise, humility is required of the preacher. Stott writes that it is a “perilous” undertaking to stand before a church presuming to authoritatively speak God’s truth into the lives of its members.  There is a temptation to presume it is your message, your words, your sermon, instead of your humble testimony to what God has said and done.

We preachers might do a better job of it all if we observed Dr. Stott’s requirements to our sermons, asking ourselves, Am I speaking from my own, personal experience?  And, Do my words arise from a sincerely humble soul, or are they merely the expressions of a proud spirit? I would add third question: Have I preached this sermon to myself before I preach it to others?

The Preacher is a Herald of the Good News of Jesus Christ

John Stott’s magnificent book The Preacher’s Portrait describes five roles that a pastor-preacher fills in serving the church of Jesus Christ. The second role presented is that of a herald.

Whereas the emphasis of the steward is on the role of faithfully preserving and dispensing the Word of God to the church, the role of the herald in pastoring is that of both proclaiming a specific message entrusted to him, and then making an appeal for a response on the part of the listener.  The specific message that he proclaims is that of the spectacular accomplishment of the cross of Jesus Christ in bringing about the opportunity of reconciliation between God and man—the Gospel.  The pastor-as-herald is more than a mere spokesman who says something—he is an ambassador who calls upon those to whom he has been sent to make a decision about what he has told them.  Thus Peter preached to his Pentecost listeners “Repent, and be baptized (Acts 2:38), and Paul wrote, “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God (2 Cor 5:20).  A herald needs to be clear about his message, simple in its presentation, and courageous in calling for a response from his listeners.  It’s this type of moral courage that marks a faithful pastor.

From Stott: “So the true herald of God is careful first to make a thorough and thoughtful proclamation of God’s great deed of redemption through Christ’s cross, and then to issue a sincere and earnest appeal to men to repent and believe.  Not one without the other, but both.”

The Preacher is a Steward of the Word of God

John Stott’s magnificent book The Preacher’s Portrait describes five roles that a pastor-preacher fills in serving the church of Jesus Christ.  For the next five days, I’m going to share one of those five roles, for the consideration of our church.

A steward is responsible to manage the resources of another in a way that serves the desires and best interests of the master of those resources.  In a broad sense, all Christians have been entrusted with gifts, skills, and resources that they are responsible to use to serve Jesus, but the pastor fills a unique roll of stewardship in the church.  He is entrusted with the faithful, regular, effective dispensing of the Word of God to the church.  He is to prepare and present the Word in such a way that it can be taken in by the church and acted upon in the life of the church.  Likening the ministry of the Word to the feeding of a family, Stott writes, “So the skilled steward sees that his larder is kept well stocked  He will never weary the household with a monotonous menu, nor nauseate them with an insipid diet, nor give them indigestion with unsuitable food.  The steward will rather be like the householder whom Jesus described, “who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old” (Mt. 13:52).”

So, first and foremost, the pastor must be a man who, in a skilled and winsome manner, applies Word of God to the day-to-day life of the congregation entrusted to his care.

The Lord’s Supper

“…do this in remembrance of Me.” Luke 22:10

The Lord’s Supper is a memorial meal.  Christians all over the world observe it to remember something very precious—the death of Jesus for their sins.  A few years ago Sharon and I visited our nation’s capital, Washington, DC.  It is a city of memorials.  There’s one to the Marines, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, the Holocaust, and many others.  It’s frankly a very poignant, moving experience just to spend a couple of days visiting the memorials in that city.  But there’s one memorial that had great impact us when we visited that great city.  As you fly over it, it appears as a simple, black “V” cut into the grass of the Capital Mall.  There was much controversy and argument concerning its design, but once the Viet Nam War Memorial was completed, almost all criticism ceased.  For on the day that the memorial was officially opened, the public was treated to a wonderful, poignant surprise.  The black stone that the memorial is made out of, on the face of which is carved the names of the thousands of Americans who died in Southeast Asia, has been polished to such a luster that when one stands in front of it, reading the names of our fallen soldiers, one sees himself!  It’s a moving, sobering experience to stand in front of the memorial, reading the names of the fallen…and then, to notice that you are also looking at your own reflection in that polished stone!  The Lord’s Supper is like that.  Look closely at it, and as you participate you will see yourself there, with Him, for when He suffered for the sins of the world, He was surely suffering for your sins as well.