By Johnie Edwards
Most effective speakers gesture. A gesture is defined by The American Heritage College Dictionary as “a motion of the limbs or body made to express thought or to empha- size speech.” Surely every gospel preacher should want to emphasize his sermon. Let’s take a look to see what the Bible teaches about such.
The Apostle Paul Gestured
As Paul was asked by the rulers of the synagogue, “. . . if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say on. Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience” (Acts 13:15-16). The apostle Paul knew that gestures can help to enforce the oral expression in gospel preaching. In Jerusa- lem, “. . . Paul stood on the stairs, and beckoned with the hand unto the people. And when there was made a great silence, he spake unto them in the Hebrew tongue, saying . . .” (Acts 21:40). Paul knew that gestures help commu- nicate ideas and help get and hold attention. It has been said that gesturing is not in keeping with humility. Paul, who gestured, said, “Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews” (Acts 20:19). Paul was a humble-gesturing preacher! When the apostle Paul made his defence before King Agrippa, he “. . . stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself” (Acts 26:1). The stretching forth of one’s hand is gesturing.
As Alexander made a speech before the people, the Bible says that, “. . . Alexander beckoned with the hand, and would have made his defence unto the people” (Acts 19:33). No one is saying that a speaker ought to go to the extreme and pace back and forth that would reveal one’s uneasiness and disturb the listener’s concentration.
The Lord instructed Ezekiel to motion or gesture with his face, hands and foot. “Son of man, set thy face toward Jerusalem, and drop thy word toward the holy places, and prophesy against the land of Israel” (Ezek. 21:2). God told his prophet and watchman, Ezekiel, “Thou therefore, son of man, prophecy, and smite thine hands together” (Ezek. 21:14). Certainly actions speak loud. A lot of preachers put absolutely no enthusiasm in their preaching. God ad- monished Ezekiel to put some life in his preaching when he told him, “Thus saith the Lord God; Smite with thine hand, and stamp with thy foot, and say, Alas for all the evil abominations of the house of Israel! for they shall fall by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence” (Ezek. 6:11). A lot of preachers put their audience asleep due to lack of zeal and some action in their preaching; and then blame the people. People don’t normally sleep when I preach, but if they did, I would first examine myself as to my preparation and presentation of the sermon. Beckon- ing with the hands at the close of the sermon for folks to respond, stamping the foot, smiting the hand, snapping the finger, slapping the knee are certainly fitting to emphasize and get people’s attention!
Lessons From the Titanic
A few weeks ago my family went to the Titanic Exhibi- tion. All summer long we had been learning about the great disaster. The Titanic was built by White Star Line Company. It was a progressive company and was the first to build ships of 40,000 tons. Their aim was to take advantage of those wanting to travel from Europe to America. Remember, this was before TWA and air travel. They wanted to be the luxury liner of the times.
As we went through the Exhibition, a number of facts caught my attention.
The Titanic was the state-of- the-art boat. White Star had used some of the best and most skilled shipbuilders in Europe. This was not their first big ship. A year earlier the Olympic was put into action. Her size was the same as the Titanic, however, she was built to handle a smaller number of passengers. The Titanic weighed
46,324 tons and was powered by two enormous engines with the horsepower of 30,000. She was the best constructed boat of her time. E.J. Smith was an experienced sea- man and chosen to be in charge, partly because he never had a close call in all his years of sailing.
It was a boat of luxury. One reason for the boat’s great size, was the desire by White Star Line to build a boat for the rich and famous to travel on. She had smoking rooms for the first class and second class; lounges, a gymnasium, a grand staircase, a hospital, a library for the second class and there was even a swimming pool. Her second class passengers enjoyed luxury usually reserved for only the first class passengers. Most of the first class passengers were part of the select rich in both America and Europe.
They brought their finest clothes, drink and jewelry. It was said that a lot of women brought jewelry for each day. They paraded around living laviously.
It also struck me the number of people on board. There were 2,278 passengers and crew members. Of that number, 712 were third class. These were the poor immigrants coming to America in hope of a better future. There were whole families who could not speak a word of English, some old and some just babies.
The above facts made this really hit home. Let me mention some lessons we all should learn from this tragedy.
For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever (1 John 2:1-17).
This was a time of arrogance. Some people thought this boat was unsinkable. This was due in part to two reasons: first, she had a double hull; second, she was made of a special metal. One quote at the Exhibition was, “God, Himself could not sink the Titanic.” This arrogance, perhaps led to the decision to cut back on the number of lifeboats. Its original design called for 64 lifeboats, later on it was cut back to 48, and eventually, she had a total of 16.
It was said this was the end of the age of innocence. Re- ally this was a reality check. Men learned the Titanic was sinkable. She was destroyed by one big piece of ice. In the late hours of Sunday, April 14, 1912, she hit an iceberg. She sank in the early hours of April 15th.
Can such arrogance be seen today? Look at the people who believe God does not exist. Some feel as if mankind must save himself Others act as if they will live forever. There will come a time we will all have a reality check and realize we are not immortal but very frail and in need of our God.
And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12:15). The words “take heed” are words of warning. They are saying, “Danger Lies Ahead.” Most of the crew and passengers on the Titanic were not taking heed. The winter of 1912 had been an un- usually warm one. Icebergs were drifting toward the south in the Atlantic Ocean. The crew of the Titanic had received not less than six warnings on her final day from other ships in the area. Captain Smith slightly changed the course of the ship to place her more toward the south. Despite these efforts, she entered into an ice field.
At 10:55 PM the ship, the Californian, sent a message warning the Titanic of danger. Jack Phillips, the radio opera- tor, sent back the message, “Shut up. We are busy.”
Even after they struck the iceberg, the passengers did not see the danger ahead. People on deck used some of the ice to have a snowball fight. One man asked for a piece of ice for his drink.
This helps to explain why the first lifeboats sent away were not fully loaded. Each boat had the capacity to hold 65 people, but most of the early boats had less than 40 on board.
They were not seeing the real danger. They were not taking heed. It was not until they could see the water coming up the grand stairway that some realized what was just ahead.
The same can be said today. A lot of people fail to see the seriousness of sin. They think it is funny. Others are busy enjoying themselves. Still others do not see how close the end is in their lives.
Let us take heed to what Jesus said, “Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming; in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning; lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!” (Mark 13:33-37).
Another fact is how few were saved. Total number of passengers and crew on board was 2,228. Of that number, just 705 were saved. This was due to a couple of reasons. Most importantly, there were not enough lifeboats on the ship. Also, many of the boats were not loaded to full capacity. Some thought the earlier boats could come back and pick up additional passengers. If they had been loaded properly about 420 more people could have lived.
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matt. 7:13-14). Unlike the Titanic, the number which can be saved it not limited. We all have the ability to be saved. Jesus died on the cross for all of mankind. God wants us to be saved. “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men” (Tit. 2:11). Why will people be lost? Because they are in sin (Rom.3:23; 6:23). Because they never allowed the blood of Christ to cleanse them of their sins (Eph. 1:7). It is truly sad to see people lost due to either not hearing the word of God or not obeying it (2 Thess. 1:8).
A final fact on the sinking of the Titanic is the time involved. She did not go down immediately. The Titanic struck the iceberg at 12:15 AM. She sunk at 2:20 AM. For those two hours, the people on board had to make choices. Women and children were allowed to get on some of the lifeboats while other lifeboats had some men on board. Fathers and husbands said good-bye to their children and wives. Some families decided to stay together even if it meant dying together. Some spent their last hours living it up. Others were trying to make their lives right with God. Some, such as the crew, sacrificed their lives trying to help the passengers.
“The days of our lives are seventy years; And if by reason of strength they are eighty years, Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; For it is soon cut off and we fly away” (Ps. 90:10). Our lives are but a brief moment on God’s green earth. We cannot stop the fact of death. We can determine how we will live and the conditions of our soul at the time of our death. We can help those around us (Jas. 1:27). We can be like the apostle Paul, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith: Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Tim. 4:8).
Note: Much of the historical information in these two articles was taken from, Titanic The Exhibition.