Article - Preach The Word!
The messianic prophet Zechariah illustrated the urgency of preaching God’s Word when he said, “Run, speak to this young man…” (Zechariah 3:2). Just as in the Old Testament days, an interesting parallel is found in the urging of Phillip to teach the Ethiopian Eunuch. The Scripture records that Phillip “ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’” (Acts 8:30). Both of these verses illustrate the urgent need for men and women to hear the powerful Word of God. Since God chose the foolishness of preaching to save the lost (1 Corinthians 1:21), this places a dire need upon God’s people to preach and teach only God’s Word (2 Timothy 4:2; Acts 8:3-4). What then does it mean to really teach God’s Word?
Let the Lion Roar! The bold prophet Amos recorded, “A lion has roared! Who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken! Who can but prophesy?” (Amos 3:8) If you have ever been to the zoo, you can relate to this passage. Think back to the last time you were at the zoo, and you heard a lion roar. No matter where you are, the lion roaring is a sound that strikes attention in your heart and a healthy fear for such an awesome beast. Like the lion roaring, God’s Word should cause us to sit up and listen very carefully. To the seven churches of Asia, Jesus said, “he who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says” (Revelation 2:7; 1 Timothy 4:1). God’s people are encouraged to: “take heed what you hear” (Matthew 4:24; Hebrews 2:1); “take heed how you hear” (Luke 8:18); and God said, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” (Matthew 17:5). When God’s Word is preached, like the roaring of a lion, we need to have an attentive heart and a healthy respect for its awesome power.
God’s Word in Your Mouth. To the young and insecure prophet Jeremiah, God said, “Behold, I have put My words in your mouth” (Jeremiah 1:9). The problem with much of the preaching today is that it is backwards from what God told Jeremiah. A lot of today’s preaching is simply man’s word in man’s mouth. Sadly, that’s not what God commanded nor will it save lost souls (Hebrews 4:12). Throughout Scripture we find the need to preach God’s Word reinforced. Paul told Timothy to “Preach the Word” (2 Timothy 4:2). Peter instructed Christians to “speak as the oracles of God” (1 Peter 4:11). After being spit out on the beach by a large fish near Nineveh, God told the reluctant prophet Jonah, "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you." (Jonah 3:2). The need for preaching what God tells us is directly related to the power of God’s Word to save. If the implanted word saves (James 1:21); and the gospel is the power of God to salvation (Romans 1:16); and God chose the foolishness of preaching to save (1 Corinthians 1:21), then we desperately need to let our mouth be the tool for God’s Word to echo forth to the masses (Jeremiah 22:29).
Not Public Enemy #1. When men of God boldly preach the whole counsel of God which reaches down inside of us and urges us to change our lives - even if we don’t like it, God’s preachers are not our enemy! After sharply rebuking the Galatian Christians in many areas, Paul asked this question: “Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?” (Galatians 4:16). Maybe you’ve heard the expression, don’t kill the messenger if you don’t like the message. How true that is as it relates to preaching God’s word. Have you ever sat in a sermon that made you feel uncomfortable, caused you to squirm a little in your seat, and really reached down inside you and challenged you to change your spirit in areas you knew needed changing? How do we respond to that awkward and uncomfortable feeling that true Gospel preaching creates? Either we accept truth and change, or we can get mad at the messenger as a way to avoid doing what we know is right. Too many times the latter occurred in Scripture. Why do you think King Ahab said to Elijah, “Is that you, you troubler of Israel”? (1 Kings 18:17). Why was Jeremiah thrown in the dungeon (Jeremiah 20)? Why were the Jews so indignant at Jesus that they cried, “Crucify Him?” (John 19:6). Why was Paul imprisoned? Why was John exiled to Patmos? All of these are examples of persecuting the messenger as a way of avoiding the changes that God’s Word demands. When God’s Word demands change, you (and I) need to “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time” (1 Peter 5:6).
While Jesus used practical illustrations to help people understand truth (Mark 4:34), too much of today’s preaching is filled with silly anecdotes, funny stories, and cute illustrations that never really get to the heart of the matter—helping men and women to change their will to God’s will (Acts 3:19). In a day and age where there is a famine for Bible preaching (Amos 8:11-12), may each Christian be encouraged to boldly proclaim, “Thus saith the Lord!” (Zechariah 1:3). In seeking and saving lost souls, let’s listen when the lion roars, use our mouths as a tool to let God’s word echo forth, and make changes in our lives when Gospel preaching demands it!
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