Vol. 3, No. 11
The New Testament was originally written in the Greek language, which in the time of our Lord Jesus was common to a large portion of the world. Greek is a precise and descriptive language that was used by all classes of people. It was especially useful as the language through which God communicated his divine will to man.
Five different New Testament Greek words are translated by the words: "minister," "evangelist" and "preacher." Each of the Greek terms has a slightly different meaning that adds a more complete definition to what it means to be God's preacher.
The Greek word "diakonos" is sometimes translated as "minister" and means: one who serves or an attendant; it emphasizes one's activity in his work. The Greek "leitourgos" is also translated "minister" and is defined: one who publicly serves another person, perhaps at his own expense; the emphasis is on the public nature of the service. Still another word translated "minister" is "huperetes." It means under rower or low ranking crewmember of a ship, also an assistant in any work; the emphasis is on the relationship between the servant and the one saved.
The Greek word "euangelistes" is translated "evangelist" and means: a messenger of good news with an emphasis on the quality of good. The term "kerux" is translated "preacher." It is defined as: a messenger with public authority to deliver official or formal messages of kings or military leaders; the emphasis is on the work of one who delivers messages by the authority of another.
These five Greek terms and the three translated words describe God's preacher. He is a servant of God whose responsibility is to publicly deliver God's message of good news (the Gospel). The authority by which he speaks as well as the message itself is God's authority and God's message.
God's message is the Bible or the Word of God. The apostle Paul told the preacher Timothy to "preach the word" (2 Timothy 4:2). Luke referred to himself and others as "ministers of the word" (Luke 1:2). Paul said of himself that he was a minister, preaching the Gospel: "If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister" (Colossians 1:23).
The role of God's preacher is found in Romans 10:13-15. Preachers help people learn the Word of God so they can be saved.
"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!" (Romans 10:13-15).
However, some preachers do not teach the truth. Instead, they teach false things and serve the devil. "But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction" (2 Peter 2:1).
"For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works" (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).
Therefore, everyone must compare what a preacher says (or writes) with what the Bible teaches. "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1).
A preacher must help people better understand God's Word; neither he nor his hearers should desire more or less of God's preacher. "So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading" (Nehemiah 8:8).
Dear Reader, please carefully study the Bible, and as carefully compare what a preacher teaches with the Bible. The salvation of your soul depends on your understanding of God's Word and your willingness to do what it teaches.
The word perks means payoffs. Synonyms include: boon, advantage, bonus, reward, prerogative, privilege, vantage and accommodation. The word preaching encompasses spiritual leadership, ministry, exhortation, to sermonize, to evangelize, to moralize, to teach and to lecture. Biblical preaching conveys a message from God to mankind in expressions that both fairly represent God and are intelligible to mortals. One of the most concise and descriptive definitions of biblical preaching occurs in Nehemiah 8:4-8.
"And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose; and beside him stood Mattithiah, and Shema, and Anaiah, and Urijah, and Hilkiah, and Maaseiah, on his right hand; and on his left hand, Pedaiah, and Mishael, and Malchiah, and Hashum, and Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam. And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people;) and when he opened it, all the people stood up: And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground. Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place. So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading." (Emphasis added, ler.)
Verse Eight in the above passage essentially summarizes what good, biblical preaching has always been and is today. “So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading." Aside from the obvious importance of preaching as a communication from God to mankind, preaching affords singular terrestrial and celestial perks for the preacher of God's Word.
Some of the perks of preaching accrue in this life. First, the preacher (and to a lesser degree, his family) is somewhat insulated from the barbarities often common in the workplace. I have had both full-time and part-time ministries. The former is frequently aloof from the social interactions with worldly and sometimes immoral or profane people, among whom most of the brethren in the pews work daily. The full-time preacher's life is consumed in spiritual service apart from many of the sinful distractions that regularly buffet the rest of the congregation. It is, therefore, easier for such a preacher to be more of what God wants him and all Christians to be. From personal experience under circumstances in which I labored in the world to support my family and me as we labored for the Lord, I empathize with brethren in the pews. I know firsthand how difficult daily life can be to the faithful practice of primitive Christianity. Every full-time preacher should appreciate this perk and sympathize with the rest of his brethren.
Second, akin to the former perk, preaching permits the preacher to develop a closer relationship with God. Less of the preacher's life is occupied with the mundane matters of making a living.
He, therefore, may and should invest more of his time in both the study of God's Word and the execution of Christian service. The preacher's life from the beginning to the end of each day is heavily punctuated with spiritual thoughts, prayers, study and activity. All this results in the refinement of the preacher's communion with God. Outstanding preachers who developed superior relationships with God and about whom we can read in the Bible include Noah (1 Peter 2:5) and Elijah (2 Kings 2:11).
Third, fully supported preachers may and should also realize the benefit from their release from making a living, whereby they have a greater responsibility in Christian service. Every child of God is obligated to practice Christian living and Christian service. Greater free time and often greater abilities or heightened skills and training place a greater responsibility on preachers than on other members of the Lord's church. All of God's people must be periodically reminded of their Christian responsibilities. Further, Christians must not be allowed to imagine that only the preacher has responsibilities in Christian service or that the congregation has hired the preacher to do its work. Still, greater opportunities for the full-time preacher equate to greater responsibilities. Opportunities for greater service should be viewed as a perk of preaching rather than as merely perhaps an undesirable consequence of preaching.
Fourth, preachers enjoy the perk of personal gratification. There is a degree of contentment and satisfaction from knowing that we have faithfully served in the corps of God's workers. One's labors for Christ do not always bear visible fruit; nevertheless, our labors are not in vain in the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58). However, sometimes the preacher's investment of himself fully in the work of the Lord does produce discernible success. Any time a preacher participates in spiritual instruction that results in the redemption of a lost soul, he rejoices with the angels in heaven (Luke 15:10; Acts 8:12). The apostle Paul summarized his life of constant service to Christ to include the acknowledgment that a crown of life awaited him (2 Timothy 4:6-8).
Some of the perks of preaching accumulate and are subject to enjoyment in the future, eternal, heavenly realm. First, the crown of life that Paul mentioned in 2 Timothy 4:8 represents more than personal satisfaction in this life. The crown of life that Paul anticipated was the calculated result of devoting himself as a Christian and especially as a preacher in the service of God. Apparently, a degree of eternal reward is commensurate with the degree of success one has enjoyed in Christian service while on earth (1 Corinthians 3:11-15; Philippians 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 2:19).
Second, the celestial perks of preaching transform the souls themselves who are favorably affected by the preaching of the Gospel to them. Not only preachers who delight in the souls that they lead to salvation, but the souls who are saved as a result of the effort of God's preachers likewise rejoice (Acts 8:39). Truly, in a figure, ". . . How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:15).
Evidently, the apostle Paul, about whom and by whom much is written in the New Testament, greatly valued the perks of preaching. No persecution or deprivation was too great to embrace if it allowed him to preach the Gospel of Christ. He suffered greatly throughout the years of his ministry, all of which suffering was comparatively insignificant to what Paul considered the perks of preaching (2 Corinthians 11:23-28). "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Romans 8:18). Further, the apostle considered the forfeiture of what he otherwise would hold dear in life as a little thing in view of his Christian service (Philippians 3:4-8).
"But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ” (Philippians 3:7-8).
Preachers, sometimes the pay may not be much, but the retirement is out of this world!
"For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me” (1 Corinthians 9:16-17).