Before leaving this pivotal theme, we should note how preaching relates to worship . It is extremely significant that the people’s response to Ezra’s reading and exposition of Scripture (Neh_8:8; cf. Neh_6:7) was worship (Neh_9:3). This is the climax; everything points to this and has prepared for it. There is nothing of equal importance to the exposition of God’s Word. Take the time now to read Jon_3:2 again, as well as Psa_80:18; Psa_105:1, where call is qārā’, signifying proclamation.
While lost in most churches today, preaching was central to the early church (note the primacy of “doctrine” in Act_2:42) and its immediate descendants. Writing in the middle of the second century, apologist Justin Martyr described a typical worship service of his day: “And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen.”
Mark it down—the reading and explanation of the Word of God was the absolute center of the worship service. (Note that this statement also refutes the accusation made by modern “Sabbath keepers” that Sunday did not become the day of worship until the fourth century.)
Sadly, this is not the case today. Central today is music, drama, comedy, discussion, anecdotes, or anything else we can think of except preaching. But nothing praises God as does the proclaiming of His Word as absolute Truth.
We should be challenged by these comments by the late pastor and great expositor James Boice: “There is nothing more important for Christian growth and the health of the church than sound Bible teaching. Yet sadly, serious Bible teaching is being widely neglected in our day, even in so-called evangelical churches. Instead of Bible teaching, people are being fed a diet of superficial pop psychology, self-help therapy, feel-good stimulants, and entertainment, and the ignorance of the Bible in churches is appalling.”
Scriptures for Study: Note the centrality of preaching in the following texts: Isa_1:2-31; Matthew 5-7 (Jesus’ sermon is the greatest model of exposition); Act_2:14-36; Act_7:2-60; Act_15:14-21; Act_17:16-31.