By Connie W. Adams
Paul preached the same gospel on the resurrection of Christ, and the assurance that gave of a general bodily resurrection when the Lord returns, which the other apostles preached even though he was “born out of due time” (1 Cor. 15:8). That means he was brought into the apostolic work later than the other apostles. Even so, the appearance of the Lord to him on the Damascus Road qualified him as a witness of the resurrection. In verse 11 he said, “Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye have believed.” Paul’s preaching on the resurrection was an valid as that of the other apostles.
Relationship Between Preaching and Faith
There is an inseparable bond between the preaching that is done and the faith it produces in the hearers. “It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save that believe” (1 Cor. 1:21). The thing preached provokes the faith that saves. “So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). In the same context, Paul asked, “How shall they believe on him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Rom. 10:14) When the Ethiopian treasurer was converted, the Holy Spirit did not address the man, nor did the angel of the Lord. God’s providence brought him in contact with a preacher of the gospel. “Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus” (Acts 8:35). It was this message which he believed and obeyed to the saving of his soul.
My brethren, we must never lose faith in the power of the preached word. This is the seed which sprouts and springs to life in the good and honest heart (Lk. 8:11). I fear that many have lost faith in the power of gospel preaching. They want very little of it, seeming unwilling to be inconvenienced to hear even that little bit, and want it short, sweet, all warm and fuzzy so that it makes them cry a little or laugh a lot. When weak brethren recover their conviction that gospel preaching does good, they will want to hear more, not less, of it. They will demand that what is preached is the word of God and not the word of man. They will bring their Bibles and check to see that what is taught is the truth.
Strong preaching produces strong faith. Paul told Titus to present “sound doctrine” to “aged men” so that they would be “sound in faith” (Tit. 2:1). Would it not follow that unsound doctrine would produce unsound faith? Water down the preaching and you water down the faith. Preach the wisdom of men and hearers will place their faith in men and not in God. Fill your preaching with the popular buzz words of the pop religious writers and radio and television evangelists and you will produce audiences of spiritual illiterates and spiritual dwarfs.
Faith building preaching must emphasize the fundamentals of truth. But it must also oppose error which restricts the flow of truth into the hearts of hearers. Like blocked arteries which restrict the flow of blood, so error in the mind shuts off life giving truth. Many have rejected Bible teaching on baptism for the remission of sins because their spiritual arteries have been blocked with massive chunks of “faith only,” “just pray the sinners’ prayer,” “accept Jesus as your personal Savior” or “I know what I feel in my heart.” In order to implant faith in such hearts, it is necessary to provide some spiritual surgery. Objectors to such surgery are standing in the way of the salvation of the lost. The word of God will clear out the error and help the subject to embrace the truth.
Titus was instructed to teach elders of the church to employ sound doctrine to “exhort and convict the gainsayers” and to stop the mouths of those who subvert whole houses (Tit. 1:9-10). He said this must be done “that they may be sound in the faith” (v. 13). Why does so much error strut unchallenged through the land, destroying one church after another? Why has the tolerance level been raised for weak preaching or for that which generates more doubt than faith? Where are the elders? Whatever became of vigilance? Of watching for souls? What has become of “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Tim. 4:2)? One is not to teach otherwise than “wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the doctrine which is according to godliness” (1 Tim. 6:3).
Have weak pulpits contributed to the avalanche of ungodliness which has fallen upon so many congregations to the end that many members have imbibed the spirit of the world about us?
Make no mistake, my dear brethren, the faith of hearers is linked to the kind of preaching and teaching received. Of course, it is possible to faithfully preach the truth only to be ignored by those who love the world more than the Lord. But let it not be because the whole counsel of God was not preached. “So we preach, and so ye believed.”
Guardian of Truth XXXVII: 20, p. 3-4
October 21, 1993