Besides the changes in worship and church government that the Reformation brought about, there was also a marked change in church architecture. During the medieval era, the altar was placed at the center of the chancel area in most churches because of the central place the celebration of the Eucharist held in the liturgy. But beginning with the Reformation, many Protestant churches moved the pulpit to the center, at times even elevating it to symbolize the fact that God’s people sit under the authority of His Word.
It is the power and authority of Scripture that the preacher is to stand firmly upon as he proclaims the gospel from the pulpit. He is not afraid to be certain of those things about which the Word of God is clear, a radical position in a postmodern age that loves uncertainty. The confidence and certainty with which the pastor sets forth the teaching of Scripture is not based in an arrogant trust in his own abilities but in the knowledge that the Bible is the very truth of the Lord. Such certainty enables the preacher to stand firm for the gospel and to equip his people to do the same in a hostile world. Martin Luther says that a preacher should never be afraid to “be sure of his doctrine” (Table Talk no. 397).
The greatest threat to the security of Israel under the old covenant was the false prophet who gave the people only what they wanted to hear (Jer. 28). The opposition that the clear proclamation of the gospel always produces can make it difficult to stand on the certainty of Scripture. To avoid suffering, a pastor (and lay people as well) can waffle on the core doctrines of the Christian faith, choosing to preach sermons that make people feel good rather than drive them to repentance and faith. But faithful preachers do not tickle the ears of their flock. They do not ride their own personal hobby-horses or make entertainment the goal of their ministries. Instead, they preach the truth, no matter how unpopular this may be in our relativistic culture.
Uncertainty in matters about which Scripture is clear is a poison that can affect people for eternity. May our preachers always stand firmly on God’s inerrant Word. And may we be encouraged to do the same.