Like most, I suppose, of those who will read these lines, I can say that I love preaching. I loved preaching before I was called of God to preach. As a child not yet ten years of age, I wanted to sit as close to the front of the church as possible so that I could hear every word the preacher would utter. I wanted to see him sweat, to watch him labor for souls delivering his own soul as it were. I have loved preachers and preaching ever since: old preachers and young preachers; tall ones and short ones, bald-headed preachers and those who have a full head of hair. I love preachers that have had too much fried chicken and mashed potatoes and gravy and homemade pies to eat and those who are skinny as a rail; I love those who speak fluently evidencing a well-rounded education and I love equally the preacher on fire for God who mercilessly may “butcher” the king’s English but who has a passion for souls and a burning desire to plead with men the best way he knows how. Ask my wife, and she will attest that almost any kind of preacher, other than a quack, that I can find on the radio while traveling is what I want to hear; not to criticize but to enjoy. In fact, the last message that I heard (much like a piece of pie or cake) is probably the “best message” I ever heard!
George Whitefield loved preaching. He said, “I love those that thunder out the Word. The Christian world is in a deep sleep. Nothing but a loud voice will wake them.”
John Ruskin defined preaching as “thirty minutes to raise the dead.”
Samuel Chadwick loved preachers and preaching. He said, “I would rather pay to preach than to be paid not to preach.” Most God-called preachers would heartily agree with that!
Charles Spurgeon realized the primacy of preaching when he said, “I do not look for any other means of converting men beyond the simple preaching of the Gospel and the opening of men’s ears to hear it. The moment the Church of God shall despise the pulpit, God will despise her. It has been through the ministry that God has been pleased to revive and bless His churches.”
Today, many preachers are fizzling out; many are choosing immorality over morality; many are trying to please man rather than God; many are getting out of the ministry to which they have been called.
Where are the preachers today who have the spirit and passion of a Robert Murray McCheyne who said “I preach as never to preach again; as a dying man to dying men”?
Or, again citing that prince of preachers, Spurgeon, “Wherever I preach, I read a text and then I run to Jesus.” He recognized that if there were no urgency in the pulpit there would be no urgency in the pew.
The late master teacher Dr. Robert Delnay, whom many readers of this post will recognize as one of their former profs, was quoted as saying, “The vitality of Christianity at any time in church history is directly related to the vitality of preaching.”
Quoting A.W. Tozier who commented on Acts 2:37 (“Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the Apostles, ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?’”):
“I preach to my congregation week after week. And I pray that I may be able to preach with such convicting power that my people will sweat! I do not want them to leave my services feeling good. The last thing I want to do is to give them some kind of religious tranquilizer-and let them to go to Hell in their relaxation.”
The preacher’s commission is from God for he is first a servant of God. (Tit.1:1) He has surrendered his will to do God’s will. To go where God sends, to say what God says and to above all else “Preach the Word!” He has not accepted a position nor has he entered into a “Profession.” There are for him no regular office hours, no specified fringe benefits, no union wages or retirement plan or “job security,” and he does not depend upon positive performance ratings. He is not placed or replaced by a district bishop from denominational headquarters nor is he subject to the whims of a “board” of deacons or the chairperson of the ladies’ Missionary society. He has no concern for who the wealthiest member of his congregation may or may not be or how much money any family may give. He is placed by God and can only rightly be replaced by God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church.
His first and last business is to preach; not reformation but revelation; not renovation but regeneration; not resuscitation but resurrection; not culture but Christ. He is not looking for the applause of man but the approval of God. He (the pastor/preacher) is God’s gift to the church and the faithful preacher will be a blessing to any local assembly.
So, pray for your preacher/pastor. Love him. Support him. Encourage him. Say “Amen” once in a while to let him know that he is connecting. Do not forget that he is a man and he is just a man. He is worthy of your honor; yea, double honor; but your deepest appreciation for his messages and for his ministry can best be demonstrated by your allowing God’s Word to impact your life with continued spiritual growth so that you are changed “from glory to glory.” (2 Cor. 3: 18)
“Preach the Word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” (2 Tim. 4:2)