Why has God Chosen Preaching to Spread His Gospel?

This is a marvelous statement of the importance of preaching based on 1 Corinthians 1:18-28. It is from Thomas Goodwin’s Works, 11:362.

But why of all things else hath he chosen his word to do this?

Ans. 1. He hath chosen preaching of the word, because it is the weakest means of all others, and therefore his power would the more appear unto his own glory in it. What is weaker than a word? and yet God created the world by it, for he only said, ‘Let there be light, and there was light,’ &c. But you will say, That was his own word spoken by himself. I answer, that now to manifest his power the more, he will take the voice of a frail man speaking his word for him; and what is weaker than a man’s breath? Indeed, ‘in the word of a king there is power’ (as Solomon speaks), but what power is there in the words of a mean and weak man? Yes, there is a great power, and the reason why God chose this means is given, 1 Cor. 1.18 to ver. 28. It is to shew his power and wisdom unto his own, and to confound the world. They know not God in his wisdom, by reason of their own wisdom which they are so full of, and by reason of their high esteem of worldly learning and eloquence, accounting the plain, naked, and slow style of the word to be but foolishness; that is, a foolish and an empty doctrine, contrary to their reason, and utterly unlike to work any great matter (as the Athenians thought); but God chose it the rather: ‘It pleased him, by the foolishness of preaching, to save them that believe,’ ver. 21, to shew that his foolishness is wiser than men’s wisdom. And if his foolishness be so, then what is his wisdom? He sent his apostles forth, a company of poor fishermen; and were they likely men to conquer the world by commanding living men to believe on one crucified, especially when the conditions were such as these, that men rich, and learned, and great, should wholly deny themselves and their own wisdom, and become fools; was this ever likely? Well, but see, ver. 20, how the apostle triumphs upon this occasion: ‘Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer?’ They are clear put down, they have lost ground both among Jews and Gentiles by this foolish and weak means, this preaching of Christ crucified; all their wit and carnal arguments could not prevail so much as one of the apostle’s sermons. And so when Luther, Calvin, and those other divines came once to preach, where were the schoolmen and learned of the world? Popery fell down before preaching, like Dagon before the ark of God. And God appointed this way, that his wisdom might appear to the confusion of the wise, that so his power might the more appear to the praise of his grace towards them that are called, and to the confusion of Satan, and, ver. 25, to shew that ‘the weakness of God is stronger than men.’ If God can by a word work such effects as all creatures are not able to work, then what would his strength do if put to it? What will that power do for his elect in another world? And this means did God appoint, thereby also to confound the power of Satan, as the strength of Jericho was subdued by the blast of ranis’ horns. Thus, Ps. viii. ver, 2, it is said, ‘Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength.’ Through the weakest means God hath ordained the greatest strength; and why? ‘To still the enemy,’ to confound Satan, that he should not boast of his conquest. God therefore chose preaching, that it might be his own power unto salvation.

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