Gerald Bray asks, If anyone can buy a Bible and read, why preaching?
…the Bible, like any other aspect of the visible church, can be read and studied without any appreciation of the spiritual dimension to which it bears witness.
This is where preachers come in. They are men sent by God to bring his Word alive in the world. Their purpose is not merely to teach what the Bible says, thought that is important, but to challenge their hearers to receive that teaching in their hearts. A sermon is not a lecture but a plea to us to hear and submit to the authority of the Word of God. The problem with ancient Israel was not that they had not heard that Word but that it had not submitted to it in humble obedience. Unfortunately, what was true of them is also true of many people today because true preachers (as opposed to lecturers and pulpit entertainers) are few and their message is neglected. The true preacher is a man filled with the Spirit of God, who can bring his Word alive in that Spirit. As the fire in him spreads to those who hear him, the dry wood is set alight, and men and women come to know the power of The Lord Jesus Christ in their lives.
When this happens, the conversion of individuals leads to the creation of the new community that we call the church. Fire can exist only its own, but only for a time because eventually it will grow cold and be extinguished. Individual sparks need to find the full body of the blaze to which they can contribute and from which they will draw new life. That fire and that life can be found in the visible institutions which we call “the church,” but the two things are not identical. When we are alive in the Spirit, we live in the visible church but we see beyond it, knowing that our true home, and indeed the true Church of God is the spiritual body, which the Spirit’s heavenly fire brings to life in the world.
God is Love, 666-667.