|Vol. 14 No. 9 September 2012||
Rodney Nulph, Associate Editor
In the very shadow of his pending death, Paul reminded his “son in the faith” to “peach the word…” Preaching is important to God! In fact, preaching is the very method by which God chose to deliver and divulge His message to the world (cf. Luke 24:47; Titus 1:3; Romans 10:13). Sadly, sometimes public speeches and other forms of open rhetoric are classified as preaching. Even sadder still, some of this rhetoric is found within the walls of where the church of Christ assembles. Thus, it behooves us to understand exactly what kind of preaching is pleasing to God.
Firstly, preaching that pleases God is Bible-based! What was Timothy to preach (2 Timothy 4:2)? The Word! Paul did not tell Timothy to preach psychology, traditions, current events, popular self-helps or anything else. Only the Word of God can save man’s soul (Romans 1:16), build faith (Romans 10:17), strengthen the soul and give an inheritance in heaven (Acts 20:32). Preaching that pleases God is preaching grounded in the text of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Secondly, preaching that pleases God is comprehensibly-clear! Beating around the bush preaching leaves its hearers confused, frustrated and not one bit closer to God. God told Habakkuk to “…Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it” (Habakkuk 2:2b emphasis added). Peter’s hearers understood his clear message (Acts 2:37). How sad it would have been if Peter had left his sinful hearers guessing as to what they must do! Stephen’s message was so clear that the hearers could not miss the point (Acts 6:9ff)! Preaching that pleases God is preaching that is comprehensibly-clear!
Thirdly, preaching that pleases God is Christ-centered! Jesus Christ must be exalted in every Gospel sermon preached! In fact, He is the center of our message (1 Corinthians 2:2). Consequently, the Lord cannot be exalted unless His bride, the church, is emphasized (Matthew 16:18; Acts 20:28). “Tell me the story of Jesus” ought to the preacher’s desire as he mounts the pulpit. As the Greeks (John 12:20) desired long ago, so should our desire be, “…Sir, we would see Jesus” (John 12:21b). Christ-centered preaching pleases God!
Bible-based, comprehensibly-clear and Christ-centered preaching is the preaching that pleases God! No hearer ought to ever accept anything less of a man who is called a preacher. The need for preaching has never been greater! Our nation, the church and this world need Gospel preaching as much or more than it ever has. Some men preach for money, others preach for fame, but God’s preachers preach because they are compelled by Calvary! Preaching that pleases God is the only preaching worth anything!
David A. Sargent
The noted French naturalist, Jean Henri Fabre’, studied the Pine Processionary Caterpillar in great detail. He observed that these caterpillars would follow a lead caterpillar in a single-file line. This behavior is not only the reason why it was given its name, but it can also be a deadly characteristic.
Consider an experiment that Fabre’ conducted with some processionary caterpillars. Allen Campbell described the experiment: “He took a flowerpot and placed a number of caterpillars in single-file around the circumference of the pot’s rim. Each caterpillar’s head touched the caterpillar in front of it. Fabre’ then placed the caterpillars’ favorite food in the middle of the circle created by the caterpillars’ procession around the rim of the flowerpot. Each caterpillar followed the one ahead thinking that it was heading for the food.
Round and round went those silly insects – for seven days! After a week of this mindless activity, the caterpillars started to drop dead because of exhaustion and starvation. All that they had to do to avoid death was to stop the senseless circling of the flowerpot and head directly toward the food, less than six inches away from those ever-circling crawlers. However, the processionary caterpillars were locked into this lifestyle and couldn’t extricate themselves from this mindless behavior.” Caterpillars are not the only ones that can wander in circles. We need direction, too! Long ago, the prophet Jeremiah declared: “O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). Jesus asked, “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the ditch?” (Luke 6:39).
So many people wander around aimlessly, wondering about the purpose of life. Some attempt to validate their lifestyles by seeking legitimacy in the approval of the crowd. Others find meaning and purpose in certain activities, but they are headed for a ditch!
Really, there are only two ways to travel: the broad way or the narrow way. “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).
The “broad” way is the way of sin that leads to destruction. It is the easy way, the popular way. It leads to destruction. The “narrow” way is less popular. It can be difficult, but this is the way that leads to eternal life. Jesus is the Way (John 14:6), for He died on the cross so that we might have forgiveness for our sins and eternal life in heaven (Ephesians 1:7).
To follow Jesus in the narrow way, we must place our faith and trust in Him (Acts 16:30-31), turn from our sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Him before men (Romans 10:9-10) and be baptized (immersed) in His name for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). Then, we must continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7).
Stop walking in circles; it is a dead end! Follow Jesus – He will lead you to life eternal! Won’t you?