Nipissing Free Reformed Church


A Guide to Reformed Preaching

Perhaps you are wondering why we spend much of our time in worship reading the Bible and listening to the pastor preach?  Hopefully this will give the answers you are looking for.  As a Reformed church, we believe that the reading and preaching of the Bible is at the centre of our Church life.  The following scripture texts illustrate this: 

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” -  Matthew 28:19-20

“And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” - Luke 24:27

“...they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed.” - Acts 17:11-12

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes...”         - Romans 1:16

“How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?”  - Romans 10:14

“... give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.  Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership.” - 1 Timothy 4:13–14

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” - 2 Timothy 3:16

Listening to Reformed Preaching

In the New Testament we read of church activity that was centered on the preaching of God’s Word.  This preaching of the gospel was the “lifeblood” of the church for centuries, but lost its central place through the middle ages.  The 16th century Reformation of the church, which we find our roots in, came about when preaching of the Bible in common language was blessed by the Holy Spirit. 

Reformed preaching is expository preaching which means that it starts with passages from the Bible and “exposes” what they mean.  It is also redemptive-historical which means that it shows how the Bible is a record of God’s plan of salvation for His people.  It is experiential meaning that it shows how the text relates to the Christian’s experience of sin, salvation and service.  Most importantly, in all of this Reformed preaching is Christ-centered, always pointing hearers to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Sermon Structure

Most sermons have what the pastor might call the “theme and points.”  The theme is the title of the sermon, it is a short summary of what the main idea of the Bible passage is.  If you can remember the theme for the coming week, it will help you to apply God’s Word to your life.  Beyond the theme, sermons are usually divided into smaller sections called points.  There are usually 2-5 points in a sermon, this way it is broken down into sections that are easier to follow and remember. 

The Parts of Preaching

The Apostle Paul was used by God to give instructions on preaching in Second  Timothy 3:16 where he writes: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:”  Another part of preaching often used by Jesus and the apostles is parables, illustrations, or stories.  These parts of preaching that the Bible speaks about mean that we expect to hear something of the following three parts in each sermon:

Doctrine - This means teaching. It is the part of the sermon that shows what the Bible is telling us about God, the church, his way of saving people from their sins, or other truths.

Illustration -This means using stories, parables or word pictures to explain a point, make it more real to us, or to help us remember the teaching.

Application - This is the part of preaching that shows what God’s word means practically.  It teaches us how to live.  For example the Bible has much to say about our life of faith, our friendships, roles, callings, work-life, family life, or marriages.  

The Pastor’s Calling

As Reformed churches we hold to the Bible’s teaching that only some men are called to preach the Word of God.  As James 3:1 says,” Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” It is only those that are recognized by the church, called, and appointed  to be ministers who should preach. (1 Tim. 5:22)  Though we believe that our ministers preach the Word of God, we also encourage you to examine the scriptures and see if these things are true. (Acts 17:11)  After each service the pastor will do his best to make time to answer any questions you may have. 

Words you Might Hear in Preaching

Sometimes you may feel that the pastor speaks a “different language” when he talks about the Bible.  Over time, as our culture drifts away from its Christian past, some words and ideas in the Bible that were once familiar have slipped into disuse.  Some of these words are defined here: 

Atonement is the idea of covering up someone else’s sin.  The Bible says that Jesus’ blood “atones” for believers’ sin, bringing us back into a right relationship with God.  

Conversion is a complete turn around in our lives when a person by God’s grace is shown thy are a sinner, hates their sin, and turns away from it and to the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Communion is a close relationship of communication and “friendship” with God in faith by reading the Bible, praying, and worshipping.  Sometimes the Lord’s Supper is called “communion” because it is the ceremony through which Christians are reminded through their sight and taste of their relationship with God through Jesus Christ. 

Depravity or Misery is the natural state that people are in when they are addicted to sin, love only themselves, and hate God their Creator.

Faith is trust, belief or confidence that Jesus Christ died for your sins and has saved you.  

Grace means favor or goodwill, grace is being given forgiveness that we do not earn or deserve. 

Gratitude is the way that the Bible teaches us to use God’s law.  We are not saved by good works, but we try to live for God out of thankfulness for being saved from sin.

Holy means “set apart” or sacred.  For God to be holy means that He is perfect, free from sin, and never makes mistakes.  

Justification is to be declared “not guilty” of sins by God because Jesus took the punishment we deserve when he died on the cross. 

Legalism is depending on the law and good works to be saved.  It is an error, because the Bible teaches that all people are sinners who need to be forgiven.  The opposite of legalism is Antinomianism which means “against the law.” It is an error that teaches that it is not a problem if Christians keep on living in sin.  The Bible teaches that true Christians trust Jesus alone to save them, but also hate sin and do their best to avoid it.

Redeem originally meant to buy back a slave from a slave owner.  The Bible talks about Jesus redeeming His people from the sin and death that they have allowed to own us by paying for their sins with His death.

Regeneration means to be “born again” or to be given new life.  This is when the Holy Spirit converts a Christian and makes them spiritually alive.

Repentance is when one realizes their sinfulness and by the work of the Holy Spirit turns away from it and towards God.

Sanctification is being made holy by the power of the Holy Spirit.  God works in Christians and causes them to do good works. 

Salvation means to be saved from our sin and it’s consequences of death and eternal punishment in hell.



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