The Bible explodes in the beginning with God acting by speaking. God's speaking accomplished things we would normally relate to the work of hands. How wonderful would it be to relate to God in this way. The evening rolls around, the kids are flying off the handle, everyone is hungry, but dinner does not exist. You're sitting there, exhausted, and you begin to make dinner by speaking. "Fajitas, chips, guacamole, cheese, tortillas, queso. It's dinner time, kids."
Surprisingly, preaching has something to do with this reality. While you do not have that kind of power, God has actually chosen to work His speaking-power through you in this thing called preaching. Let's begin on agreeable ground to work out what that means.
Pastors readily agree a significant aspect of their calling is preaching. Furthermore, most pastors will at least agree their calling is to preach the Bible. Further still, many preachers will confess the Bible to be the Word of God; to read the Bible is to hear from God. As Augustine said, "When the Bible speaks, God speaks". "All Scripture is breathed out by God..." (2 Tim. 3:16). In light of this, it is common to hear preachers say they preach the "Word of God".
Martin Luther said that because preachers preach the Bible, God speaks in preaching. In other words, God uses Bible-preaching to speak and act and accomplish His work in the world. This is astonishing. "As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God..." (1 Pt. 4:10-11). "...when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers" (1 Thess. 2:13). Bryan Chapell makes it crystal clear, writing, “…when we speak the truths of God’s Word, God speaks..."
This does not mean sermons are inspired Scripture or new revelation from God. It means God's Spirit works in power in the preaching of the Bible. Think about Paul's famous inspired line of Scripture: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God..." Most narrowly, Paul probably has in mind the verbal preaching of the gospel, not merely writings. Paul is saying that preaching the gospel is the actual power of God. God has chosen to actually speak through broken preachers who preach what the Bible says. In so doing, God makes "new creation".
If you want God to "show up" at your church, unleash the Bible in your preaching. You do not need to discern a secret message from God. When you preach the Bible, God speaks. When you preach the Bible, God's Word goes forth and in that Word God acts. The law goes forth from your faulty lips and people are convicted of sin; then the gospel goes forth and those people are brought to life by God's gracious Word of forgiveness.
Perhaps the difficulty in believing this profound reality about preaching stems from our recognition of our sinfulness. How could God speak through my preaching? You must remember, preacher, that your sinfulness is no surprise to God. He did not call you to preach because you are a righteous person. He counts you righteous through faith alone in Christ alone, by His love and grace for you. He knows your sin far better than you and yet called you to preach His Word anyways. (If you're not a pastor called by God, don't feel left out. You are sinful beyond measure too, and loved by God beyond measure too).
Maybe this is difficult to believe simply because you have never been taught the weightiness of this reality, that God speaks through Bible-preaching. Let this news be good news for your preaching. Simply preach the Bible and know that God is at work in your preaching.
So, what is God saying in the Bible? The Bible contains a lot of content and various styles of communication. What is the big idea? What does it keep coming back to again and again? The answer to those kinds of questions can be lengthy, but this may suffice for now:
"So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome" (Rom. 1:15).
"but we preach Christ crucified..." (1 Cor. 1:23).
"For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified" (1 Cor. 2:2).