By James W. Adams
Many times the charismatic personality and oratorical and rhetorical abilities of a speaker conceal the pernicious error implicit in that which he says, and multitudes are deceived. Conversely speaking, these same qualities often lessen the transforming influence of the gospel of Jesus Christ as it is taught and preached. Under such preaching, multitudes may “join the church,” but few are converted to Christ.
It is said that a person heard a world-famous evangelist and came away saying, “What a marvelous speaker!” Sometime thereafter, he heard a consecrated preacher of little fame preach in simple idiom, but with great conviction and sincerity, the story of the cross and came away saying, “What a wonderful Christ!”
This calls to mind a verse of a poem written by W.G. Elmslie which addresses the point of this article.
He held the lamp of truth that day
So low that none could miss the way;
And yet so high to bring in sight
That picture fair the World’s Great Light
That gazing up the lamp between
The hand that held it scarce was seen.
We should so teach the Word of God as to emphasize the message which it conveys and Him who is its author that the hearts of the hearers may embrace “the World’s Great Light.” The less they see of “the hand that holds it up,” the more impressive it will be.
However, let us not use these facts as an excuse for poorly prepared and slovenly delivered lessons or sermons. The lamp stand and the hand that holds it should be of such character as to display the Light, whether held “low” or “high,” to the best advantage so that its rays of redeeming light may shine clearly and powerfully to all who need it.
Guardian of Truth XXXVII: 14, p. 4
July 15, 1993