By Clinton D. Hamilton
With awesome consequences that are determinate, comprehensive, and eternal, preaching is a serious undertaking. For this reason a preacher should approach his work conscious of the fearful issue of judgment. James said, “Be not many of you teachers, my brethren, knowing that we shall receive heavier judgment” (3:1). This he said to cause one to think of the awesome responsibility, not to cause no one to teach. However, if one does teach, he should do so only after having assessed the responsibility it bears.
The preacher or teacher must be aware that the tongue is difficult to control. James says of it, “And the tongue is a fire; the world of iniquity among our members is the tongue, which defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the wheel of nature, and is set on fire of hell” (3:6). In fact, he says that no man can tame the tongue (3:8). “It is a restless evil, it is full of deadly poison” (3:8).
Whoever in this context undertakes to be a teacher must be serious-minded and conscious of the need to exercise due care to control the tongue in teaching. The preacher, therefore, should be reverential, serious, and dedicated as a person with a full understanding and acceptance of his ominous responsibility. Flippancy, lightheartedness, and inadequate preparation have no place in the pulpit. One who preaches must be studious, serious-minded, sincere, and genuine in his quest for truth and righteousness.
Conduct in the pulpit and other arenas of teaching should be characterized by the dignity, worth, and purpose of the message which is proclaimed. One is not pursuing the work to entertain but to convict of sin, encourage in righteousness, and motivate to seek eternal life through the Son of God. Accordingly, the very demeanor of the message-bearer should convey the majesty of God and the value of the message. It should be no trivial pursuit to preach nor to hear the message. The demeanor of both speaker and hearer should so agree.
James W. Adams in his teaching and preaching of the gospel conveys such demeanor and reflects such understanding about the gospel and the preacher of it.
Student and Scholar
Studious and thoughtful, brother Adams is a careful scholar and student in the preparation of that which he plans to present in a lesson or in his writings. Careful attention to detail and argument characterize what he presents either in writing or speech. His study, research, reflection, and wide reading enable him to demonstrate a comprehensive grasp of particular elements of a subject in relation to the whole of truth. Meticulous in research and in the expression of his understanding, he conveys thoughtfulness and clarity of expression. His preaching is thoroughly biblically based and shows respect for the origin of Scripture and perception of both what is and is not said. His teaching and preaching in whatever medium show him to be reflective meditative, and concerned about what God intended us to learn from His word.
Style and Substance
What is brother Adams’ style of preaching? Well, it i certainly straight-forward and forthright. One does not, wonder or agonize over whether he understood what his message is. He speaks with clarity of expression in word or pen. The message is conveyed with a minimum of words but with a clear statement of premises, proof, and conclusions. What is said is well organized and easy to follow in thought processes. Liberally supported by scriptural references correctly interpreted and applied, his preaching is rich in reflections of hours of meditative reading and research about what God’s message is.
Wherever and in whatever circumstance he may teach, there is revealed in his teaching and preaching a deep conviction, fearless expression, and courage of heart in the face of however fierce opposition may meet him. Independent, yet respectful of others, he is not hesitant to stand upon and express what he conscientiously believes God revealed. Fearless of untoward consequences, he takes refuge in truth and the strength of God.
What sort of man is James Adams? One would have to say that he has a complex personality that does not typically convey frivolity. At the same time one would have to say that typically his emotions are controlled by a keen intellect, yet he is easily touched emotionally and has a great ability to relate to problems and concerns of others. Pleasant in conversation, he reveals a person of wide interests and knowledge. He also expresses good will and personal concern for others.
A man of unquestioned integrity and good character, he has little patience with hypocrisy, sloppy scholarship, and illogical reasoning. This not because it is affront to him but because it is an affront to God and his cause. He is most conscious of consistent and inconsistent behavior. Very perceptive in observance, he is keenly aware of his surroundings.
A good friend and colleague, he extends himself to these ends and will be to any who associate with him a trusted advisor and fellow student and conversationalist. He is delightful to have as a friend and to associate with in the work of the gospel.
Dedicated to family members and the responsibilities that grow out of these, he is a source of strength. His confidential expressions to friends reveal a depth of his convictions, the breadth of his love, a tenderness of heart, the aspirations of his soul, and the graciousness of his person. He is a good man.
James W. Adams, the preacher, is complex, yet simple in dedication to truth. He is many faceted in interests, yet undeterred from truth. He is loyal in friendship, yet unmoved from his conviction. He is tender of heart, yet never loses sight of what is right. He is intellectually inclined, yet ever so willing to understand the problems of those not so inclined. He is a man of his word and staunch in his dedication to the truth of God.
He is a great preacher, a good friend, a kind family man, a good student and scholar, a careful writer, and a formidable opponent of error but an effective proclaimer of the gospel.
Guardian of Truth XXXI: 23, pp. 714-715
December 3, 1987