For What Saith the Scripture?
There is a great demand that gospel sermons be based on the concept expressed in the words of the apostle Paul, "For What Saith the Scripture?" (Rom. 4:3; Gal. 4:30) If folks are going to know and understand the truth, preachers just must get back to making their appeal to the Scriptures, in their preaching! I sometimes attend a gospel meeting and not hear over one or two pas-sages of Scripture mentioned in the entire sermon. No wonder we are having problems on a number of Bible doctrines, with so many being untaught. In the Preaching Training Program of the Ellettsville (Indiana) church of Christ, Johnie Paul Edwards and I try to impress our young men with these admonitions: Speak As the Oracles of God.
Every gospel preacher must learn to prepare every sermon with the admonition of the apostle Peter in the back of his mind, "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God" (1 Pet. 4:11). Just what does this mean? This means that when a preacher preaches, he must teach only that which is taught in the Scriptures. No more and no less! If the Bible teaches it, then teach it; but if not, leave it off.
Speak What's Seen and Heard The attitude expressed by the early men of God is surely worth remembering as preachers preach and teach. When the apostles were "commanded . . . not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus, Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:18-20). Have you ever thought what it would do if every preacher only preached what he reads in the Word of God?
Obey God Rather Than Men
When the high priest charged the apostles "that they should not teach in his name . . . Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men" (Accts 5:28-29). There are just too many preachers who try to be men-pleasers rather than God-pleasers. Paul wrote the Galatians, "For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ" (Gal. 1:10). When a preacher stands in the pulpit to preach, he ought not to have a friend in the audience! The word must be preached and let the chips fall where they may.
There is a great demand for boldness when it comes to gospel preaching. The preaching of the apostle Paul was characterized by boldness. It is said about Paul soon after his conversion, "And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus" (Acts 9:29). Preachers must not be afraid to preach it just like it is. Yet, at the same time, our preaching must be done in the spirit of "love" (Eph. 4:15).
Smite and Stamp
Young preachers, as well as the older ones, need to be taught to put some life into their preaching. God charged Ezekiel, "Smite with thine hand, and stamp with thy foot" (Ezek. 6:11). There is nothing that moves an audience to respond to the teachings of the Bible more than enthusiastic book, chapter, and verse preaching.
I have always been interested in assisting young men who want to preach. Dale Wilson, Gary Fiscus, Mel Myers, Tony Mauck, Carl Lungstrum, John Henry are all preachers who I have worked with over the years, and there are more.
Johnie Paul Edwards and I have talked about a four week summer training program for those who might like to come and stay here for four weeks and study five days a week, all day long! They would be afforded opportunities to preach in a gospel meeting, write bulletin articles, write newspaper articles, do radio preaching and learn some good skills for effective gospel preaching. We would be happy to hear from those who might be interested in such a program.
Guardian of Truth XXXVIII: 8, p. 1