The Exalted Role of Preaching
To some degree, an abundance of professional counseling exists within Christianity because passionate, expositional, theological preaching that relentlessly exhorts its listeners to obey Jesus Christ does not. This sounds like a sweeping statement and runs the risk of laying all the blame for believers’ personal problems on the failure of pulpit ministry. But that is not my intent. However, I do mean to make it inescapably clear that nothing can or should ever replace the exalted position of teaching and preaching the Word of God in the life and ministry of the local church. A biblical counseling ministry will not be effective in churches whose pastors are unfaithful in the pulpit. In other words, discipling one another works best when it is built upon, and flows from, an undying commitment to faithful, biblical preaching. When this kind of preaching is regularly fed to God’s sheep, and the Word is habitually applied to their lives by faithful shepherds who model biblical counseling, followers of Jesus will make progress in their sanctification. John Shaw refers to pastors like these as gifts from God. In The Character of a Pastor According to God’s Heart, he makes the following comments:
With respect to such pastors, it is God who raises them up, and qualifies and prepares them for the high and sacred office of the ministry. He orders the time and place of their birth; the means, opportunities, and advantages of their education. It is God who apprehends them by His Spirit and grace, forming Christ in their hearts, and setting up His spiritual kingdom there … That bias upon their hearts to enter upon the work of the ministry is of God’s forming, and so is that upon the hearts of a people by whom they are invited and called, to take the pastoral care and charge of them in the Lord.
God’s provision of men like this is for the spiritual growth of the people whom He calls to Himself for the purpose of glorifying Jesus Christ.