I was reading through a section of Joanne J. Jung’s Godly Conversation: Rediscovering the Puritan practice of conference (Reformation Heritage Books, 2011). As she was noting the primacy of the Word preached/proclaimed in the corporate worship service among the Puritans, she cited the words of Richard Baxter on the task the pastor must assume as he brings the Word of God before the congregation.
Richard Baxter gave perhaps the finest definition of the purpose and position of preaching expressed by the Puritans:
It is no small matter to stand up in the face of a congregation, and deliver a message of salvation or damnation, as from the living God, in the name of our Redeemer. It is no easy matter to speak so plain, that the ignorant may understand us; and so seriously that the deadest hearts may feel us; and so convincingly, that contradicting cavillers may be silenced.
The sermon carried the weight of being the God-ordained vehicle for salvation and sanctification, serving as the chief means for conversion and growth in godliness. (p. 72)
The responsibility your pastor has before himself today, and each Lord’s Day, is massive! Pray hard for him. Seek to encourage him. Strive to support him as he labors to clearly preach the gospel. For, “It is no small matter to stand up in the face of a congregation, and deliver a message of salvation or damnation, as from the living God, in the name of our Redeemer” (emphasis mine).