|Vol. 12 No. 10 October 2010||
Ernest S. Underwood
Israel was God’s chosen nation through whom He would bring forth the Messiah. Yet, by the decade between 625 B.C. and 615 B. C. these people had become exceedingly wicked, so wicked in fact that in 606/605 B.C. God allowed the Babylonian Army to begin taking them into seventy long years of captivity. One of the reasons these people were considered wicked and worth punishment is found in the words of Jeremiah. In Jeremiah 5:30-31 we read, “An astonishing and horrible thing has been committed in the land: the prophets prophesy falsely, And the priests rule by their own power; And My people love to have it so.”
What was happening there? The prophets (preachers) were preaching falsehood, and the priests (those descendants of Aaron) were ruling by their means, not in the way which God had commanded them in His law. Can we learn something here? How does our town compare with ancient Judah?
Mark N. Posey
Some preachers fail from a lack of balance in their lives and work. Imbalance neutralizes or destroys good work. Consider the following to help level the scales.
Speak with authority like Jesus did (Matthew 7:20), but be not arrogant. Not only will a proud, arrogant preacher be rejected by his audience, he shall not stand in God’s sight (Psalm 5:5).
Learn to be relevant in your preaching but not at the expense of neglecting the old paths (Jeremiah 6:16). God’s truth is timeless, and the most relevant preaching is solidly based on the first century Gospel (Matthew 24:35). Franklin Camp said, “A preacher’s duty is to preach the Old Truths in New Robes.”
Your preaching should be scholarly but never over the heads of the common people. Every preacher should strive to know all he can about every passage of Scripture! The acid test of effective preaching is not how well one has mastered the ancient languages or logical formulas, but if children can grasp your message and understand their duty. It is still the common people who are most receptive (Mark 12:37).
Use some humor in your preaching but do not be frivolous or clownish in the pulpit. Jesus no doubt drew smiles with His example about straining out the gnat and swallowing the camel (Matthew 23:24). There must be a clear distinction between a comic and an evangelist for Christ. Ours is the world’s most important message. It must not be lost in the roar of laughter.
Be plain but not cruel in your delivery. Plainness, clarity and simplicity are attributes that Jesus expressed. People will even request that we tell them plainly (John 10:24). To be plain one need not be cruelly blunt and frank. Common sense dictates this. A mother’s baby may be homely, but you would not say so. A dying man may look terrible but you would not tell him that. A man’s mother who died in sin is lost. There are two ways to discuss her fate. To say she is frying in hell is not in order. Being plain without cruelty will win more souls than not.