Preacher, you can preach better than John MacArthur, John Piper, David Platt and H.B. Charles. I wonder if that surprises you? It should not. You can preach better to your flock than any of those world-renowned expositional preachers. If you played their sermons at your church by way of video or hologram, it would be far less effective than the biblically faithful, Christ-centered sermons you preach to your congregation. If this were not true, we should all just get recordings of preachers like D. Martyn Lloyd Jones or Adrian Rogers and sit out with the congregation on Sunday mornings.
You may not have the gifting of historic pulpit legends past and present, but you do have the same Word of God, gospel of Christ and calling as a shepherd of Jesus Christ. You also have something they do not have: the specific flock entrusted to you by Jesus to shepherd with His Word.
Feed the Sheep
John Broadus was the first to teach preaching at Southern Seminary where I now have the privilege to do the same. Consider the personal way Broadus describes the preaching moment at the beginning of his classic, A Treatise on the Preparation and Delivery of Sermons:
When a man who is apt in teaching, whose soul is on fire with the truth which he trusts has saved him and hopes will save others, speaks to his fellow-men, face to face, eye to eye, and electric sympathies flash to and fro between him and his hearers, till they lift each other up, higher and higher, into the intensest thought, and the most impassioned emotion—higher and yet higher, till they are borne as on chariots of fire above the world—there is a power to move men, to influence character, life, destiny, such as no printed page can ever possess.
What does it mean to be a shepherd under the Good Shepherd, possessing the Word of God and a particular flock of God (1 Peter 5:2, John 10:11, 2 Timothy 3:16, Acts 20:28)? Jesus, the Good Shepherd, said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27). The Good Shepherd’s words, which are the God-breathed words of the entire Bible, are the food upon which His sheep feed; they “are spirit and life” (John 6:63).
As shepherds, our authority is based solely on the words we have from the mouth of God—the Scriptures (Matthew 4:4, 2 Timothy 3:16). Apart from the words of God, we are all sheep without a shepherd. Disciples of Christ, His sheep, continue to hear Christ’s voice today through the living voice of the Spirit-empowered preacher of God’s Word (Romans 10:14, Ephesians 2:17, 1 Thessalonians 2:13).
Preach the Word
God has always revealed Himself through his Word: He spoke the world into existence, He spoke to his image-bearers at creation, He spoke through the prophets and they proclaimed His Word, He spoke as the Living Word become flesh, He spoke through His apostles and they proclaimed His Word, and He continues to speak today through pastors who preach his Word.
Pastor, whether the flock you shepherd by preaching His Word is a 10,000 member mega-church in an urban center or a tiny rural church in small town USA, you stand in that line as one ordained by God to speak His Word to His people. As hard as it is for us to believe, in faithful preaching of the Word of God, the listener is not simply hearing about Christ, they are hearing from Christ. Christ himself speaks through his feeble but faithful preachers. John Calvin asserts,