The prophet Hosea said, “Hear the word of the LORD, you Israelites, because the LORD has a charge to bring against you who live in the land: There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgement of God in the land. There is only cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed… My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests, because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children” (Hosea 4:1,2,6).

These words are a true description of what we see today, both in and outside the church. There is so much ignorance of the word of God and its demands upon people’s lives. Because of a lack of the preaching of the whole counsel of God, we are seeing so much immorality in our society today and a lack of knowledge of God in our churches. Indeed, we are reaping the fruits of having ignored the law of God.

If this is a true description of the times we are living in, what is the solution? The answer, I assert confidently, lies in a return to true preaching. I say “true preaching” because most of what passes for preaching today is far from what we see in Scripture as we look at the preachers of both the Old and the New Testament.

In the Bible preaching always played a very important role in the lives of people. Preaching was vital not just to the life of God’s people but to society as a whole. The prophets of the Old Testament proclaimed (preached) the decrees of the King of kings. In the New Testament, all the preachers (John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus Christ himself, the apostles and others) preached the word of God. Apart from preaching, these men were also teachers of the Word of God.

Preaching has always played a central role in meeting the needs of mankind. But this is only when its content has been truly biblical. Al Martin (1992; 20-23) argues: “Most preaching today, even in good Reformed circles, lacks substantial biblical content. One of the unique things about the great preachers of the past, the thing that makes their written sermons live hundreds of years after they were written, is that they are marked by their weightiness of substantial biblical content… Much of contemporary preaching is defective in that it lacks solid doctrinal substance. It is marked by glaring weakness in the matter of practical application… Our preaching does not clearly spell out the necessity and nature of evangelical repentance.” Therefore, because of this lack, we are witnessing all sorts of evils in our society, even from Christians who attend evangelical churches. These are serious defects, which need to be urgently redressed.

What our churches and society at large need is true biblical preaching. That is the solution to the ills we see both in and outside the church. Our people need to be exposed to expository preaching. Preaching that will catch the attention of the hearers, and turn them into eager listeners, as we see it in Nehemiah 8:1, “All the people assembled as one man in the square before the Water Gate. They told Ezra the Scribe to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded for Israel.” With the people being this eager to listen, verse 8 tells us, “They read from the book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that they could understand what was being said.”

This is what we need today. True preaching is where the preacher “concentrates on a text or paragraph of Scripture, analyses what it says, draws out the doctrine or teaching, and makes a practical application” (Hulse, 1997: 3). I repeat – this is what we need today if preaching is to play its God-ordained role in the church and in the world. It must be based upon the word of God.

Sadly, this is not what is obtaining in the majority of our churches today. What we see today is a preacher standing up in front, reading a biblical text, but quickly drifting into talking about psychology, social issues, politics and at best just entertaining the listeners. As a result the church has lost its right to be the salt and light of the world. Worldliness is the order of the day in most of our churches. How sad! May God help us. “If the church is to regain its health, preaching must return to its proper biblical foundation” (MacArthur, J., 1995: 254). Yes, today many cannot endure sound doctrine. Many just want to hear what their itching ears want to hear. Nevertheless, we who preach must ensure that we are proclaiming the truth of the Bible at all times, whatever the circumstances. Our churches need to give preaching its proper and central place in our worship services. Once this is done, with preachers regaining confidence in preaching the Scriptures, the church will regain its strength and power to be the salt and light of this sin-stained world.

            This issue of Reformation Zambia is dedicated to this all-important subject. We seek to define what true preaching is and then proceed to sweep across history to see nuggets of this kind of preaching. We end with a look at the relevance of preaching in today’s multi-media society and in the church’s act of worship. As icing on the cake, we also have a biographical article that brings to our attention the life of the first Baptist preacher in Zambia. The fact that he was a leper simply goes to show that “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are; so that no one may boast before him” (1 Corinthians 1:27-29). Amen!



1. Martin, A. What’s Wrong with Preaching Today. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1992.

2. MacArthur, J. Rediscovering Pastoral Ministry. Dallas: Word Publishing, 1995.

3. Hulse, E. 1997. The History Of Expository Preaching, Reformation Today 160, (Nov/Dec), 3.