It is easy to get things mixed up as a kid. For example, I thought that the song “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” was about “Harold Angels,” as in the given name of those celestial beings. I had difficulty understanding that at first. Thankfully, it got cleared up. So this post isn’t about a preacher named Harold. Rather it is about a key component of the ministry of preaching.
Considering the preacher as a steward of truth directs attention to the household of God, within the community of faith. When we come to the aspect of preaching as a herald of the truth, it focuses outwardly. In this way, the two images provide balance in a preaching ministry.
In the biblical times, a herald was a representative of the king. When the king had vital information to communicate to his subjects, he did not call a press conference or post something on the royal website. Instead, he sent his herald to deliver a message to his people. This role carried with a grave responsibility. To misrepresent the king was an offense punishable by death. Yet the herald also possessed great authority. To ignore him when he spoke the words of the king was tantamount to ignoring the king himself.
As a herald of the Great King, the preacher must take seriously this matter of delivering the message exactly as intended. While we may value creativity higher than other skills or attributes, it is self-control and discipline that must characterize the herald. As an ambassador for Christ, the preacher must sense the authority of his calling and the priority of the message so as to speak with the appropriate boldness. When God issues a command, the herald dare not frame it as a suggestion.
The summary of the message of the herald is two-fold: (1) Preach (Greek keryssonmen, “herald”) Christ as crucified, per 1 Cor. 1:23, and (2) Preach (ibid) Christ as Lord, per 2 Cor. 4:5). The preacher must speak with boldness and conviction regarding the person and work of Jesus Christ. This is what it means to be a herald of God.