By W.R. Jones
After 59 years of preaching I am still a great believer in the power of gospel preaching. I am convinced that absolutely nothing will put God’s true message across as well as a forceful lesson from a godly preacher or teacher. I say this because I firmly believe that we not only draw from the words of those who teach us, but from their lives and character. While I was quite a young preacher I worked with an elder of the church, who I am sure, did more to shape my future than any man. This godly man taught me a great deal, and yet, strange as it may seem, I cannot remember precisely as much of what he taught me as I can remember about him, his life, his character, and his attitude. By his life and his teachings he was molding me for service to Christ.
In Acts 4:13 please notice what is said about Peter and John. “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” They took note that these men “had been with Jesus.” I am sure there were a number of things that led the observers to make the statement. This was in the infancy of the church and Jesus had been gone for sometime, but these people could tell that the men “had been with Jesus.” Everything about them pointed toward their devotion to Christ and it was very obvious to those who stood by and observed.
So, what we need today is not more gimmicks, not more novel plans, not more ingenious approaches, but more godly men who will set forth the unsearchable riches without fear or favor, and do it free of fanaticism. Today, we need men, and women as well (within their scope of teaching) who will demonstrate in word and deed that they have “been with Jesus.”
The “Social Gospel” influence upon us today has caused many to look with disdain upon “old fashioned gospel preaching.” The new idea is to get the message across with “puppet shows” and “Bible drama” and a host of other things which are designed to entertain and do some teaching at the same time. I must confess, I just don’t believe a puppet or an actor could have much of a spiritual impact on me. But, that godly elder did! He didn’t entertain me, but he taught me, and let me freely observe that teaching in his life. I had the wonderful opportunity to see what it is really all about.
Question — How do you think the gospel was spread over this great East Texas area? Do you think it was done with “watered down” sermons designed to entertain? Do you think pioneer preachers established schools or camps that the Word might be spread? Do you think they presented messages that never offended anyone? The answer to all these questions is no! I will tell you what they did for the most part. With but few exceptions, they told listeners only those things in the Bible. They tore down the strongholds of error through preaching and debate. They preached anywhere they could get an audience and from home to home. By modern standards their presentations would be judged “crude,” but nevertheless, they were telling people what they needed to hear and not what they wanted to bear. They got the job done. Thousands left error and embraced the gospel of Christ.
So, while the denominational world and the liberal minded members of the church give the world “puppet shows” and “Bible dramas” and all kind of presentations that obscure and water down the truth, let’s get on with the real work. Let’s give the lost and dying world the forceful, but simple gospel of Christ. Let it fall from the lips of truly spiritual men who have “been with Jesus.” We may not have the most listeners and we may not have the biggest crowds, but we will prepare more people for eternity, and make them “meet for the Master’s use” (2 Tim. 2:21).
From The Messenger, Decker Prairie Church of Christ