There are many ways God could have come to us. He could have dropped visual images like photographs or paintings to describe what He wanted people to know.
Certainly God does speak to us, to some degree, through the testimony of nature. After all, Psalm 19:1 tells us, “The heavens tell of the glory of God. The skies display his marvelous craftsmanship.”
But God has chosen to primarily make Himself known to us through preaching. As the apostle Paul wrote, “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe” (1 Corinthians 1:21)
Some of Paul’s most emphatic words to Timothy were, “Preach the Word!” (2 Timothy 4:2).
When Paul spoke on Mars Hill in Athens, Greece, He could have used drama to make his points. After all, drama started there in Greece. He could have had someone present the gospel in “three acts,” or have it put to music.
But he didn’t do either of those things. Instead, he preached to them.
Music, drama, and the arts all have their place, but they are nowhere near the importance of the preaching and teaching of the Word of God.
I mentioned music earlier, and the early Church certainly placed a premium on the singing of praise and worship songs. But we must be careful to not “worship” worship!
I once saw one of those TV infomercials for a collection of worship songs, which I think is great in and of itself. But what disturbed me about this particular commercial was that they had what seemed to be “testimonies” of people who talked about how “worship music” had gotten them through hard times in their lives, and “worship music” had done this or that for them.
I know God can and will work through worship music, but it is God who works in our lives. Perhaps that is why Martin Luther called music the “handmaiden of theology.”
Yes, worship has its place, but preaching still needs to be the priority of the Church today. I know this is true, not only because the Bible says it is, but also from personal experience.
I have had the privilege of teaching for more than 35 years in many places, ranging from great stadiums and arenas to small home Bible studies. I can tell you that it is God’s Word preached that touches lives.
Trust me when I say that the last thing I ever wanted to become was a preacher. I was a cartoonist, a graphic designer. That was all I ever wanted to do. I was never a speaker in school. In fact, I dreaded speaking publicly.
But the first time I had the privilege of preaching the gospel, I saw the power of God at work. My life was touched by the teaching and preaching of God’s Word, and I still am. I love to listen to preaching, and I listen to sermons and messages from different pastors all the time.
The arts have their place. Thank God for Christian musicians, designers, tech people, and all the rest. I love the arts and people who are gifted in this way. I count myself as one of them.But one thing will never change: “It pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.”
The story of Johnny Cash’s life and spiritual struggles offers hope to anyone who has had trouble staying on the straight and narrow path—and reminds us that God redeems broken lives and makes them whole again. My new book, Johnny Cash: The Redemption of an American Icon is a fascinating look at a unique and talented musician and follower of Christ!