Faithful preaching was the first mark of the true church because preaching most directly brings God’s Word to His people. The Reformers stressed that God’s great means of speaking to His people was by preaching. Luther talked of the several forms that the Word takes. The first is the eternal Word, the second person of the Trinity. The second is the incarnate Word, Jesus. The third is the inscripturated Word, the Bible. The fourth is the “shouted Word,” the preaching. At the heart of Christian worship and life is the ministry of the Word in preaching. If preaching is not faithful, the life of the church cannot be faithful. It is an essential mark of the true church.
W. Robert Godfrey, “The Marks of the Church,” Tabletalk Magazine, May 1992: The Spotless Bride of Christ (1992), 11.