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What really is true preaching?

Is it basically teaching on doctrine? Or is it moral exhortation? What’s the difference?

Michael Horton digs into this question in his excellent book, A Better Way: Rediscovering the Drama of God-Centered Worship:

Doctrinal lectures and inspirational how-to motivational talks dominate both traditional and contemporary approaches, but both tend to undermine the even-character of the service. It is one thing to talk about the doctrines of sin and grace and another to actually be faced with God in judgment and justification. It is one thing to hear exhortations to victory and quite another to actually experience the power of being drawn into the plotline of God’s victory over our enemies (the world, the flesh, and the devil). Doctrine and exhortation will be involved in all good preaching of Scripture, but preaching can never be reduced to either…

Preaching is not merely the minister’s talk about God but God’s talk–and not just any talk. It’s the kind of talk that produces a new people. It is the encounter through which God himself takes the judge’s bench, arraigns us as sinners by the standard of perfect justice, and then finds a way, in Jesus Christ, to be both just and the justifier of the ungodly. All of this happens to us before our very ears. It is worked upon us and in us by the Holy Spirit as the Word is preached (and is confirmed visibly for us by the sacraments).

– Dr. Michael Horton, A Better Way: Rediscovering the Drama of God-Centered Worship, (2002), p. 38.

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