Our present society places before us the question, “why do we need ministers and preaching?” This leads to frustration among many but what really puts pressure on ministers is the very impossible task of preaching. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:21, “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” Karl Barth put out three points that characterize this difficulty that lies before the minister in a chapter called the “Task of the Ministry.” He said, “‘As ministers, we ought to speak of God. We are human, however, and so cannot speak of God. We ought therefore to recognize both our obligation and our inability and by that very recognition give God the glory. This is our perplexity. The rest of our task fades into insignificance in comparison.”
First, we ought to speak of God.
Often in sermons, there is a failure to point people toward God. We apply sound biblical principles to everyday life, but we fail to make much of Jesus. We have taken the aim to help people live better rather than helping them die before God. What they need is God, and our preaching should contribute to pointing them to Him.
Second, we are human, however, and so cannot speak of God.
We are finite creatures talking about the infinite Creator. He is beyond us in every capacity, even imagination. To talk about God is beyond our ability and cognition. We would continually fail to correctly display God by our words. Barth was famous for simply saying, “God is God.” In that way, he described God but in reality, did not try to limit God by any human definition.
Third, we ought, therefore, recognize both that we should speak of God and yet cannot, and by that very recognition give God the glory
As God is infinitely above us and the task of preaching is given to us, we should use our voice and opportunity to praise God. To praise and give thanks is to give God glory. To proclaim to others the self-revelation of God through the Holy Scriptures and draw them to Him is to bring God glory. Returning to the first statement, we ought to speak of God. Make much of Jesus in our preaching.