By W. R. Jones
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 les- son 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, you may be sure. 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.
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 grant that more was involved in this statement then than there is now, because miracles were involved, but the principle remains the same. The people could tell that these men “had been with Jesus.”
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 so free of fanaticism. We need men, and women as well (within their limitations of teaching) who will demonstrate in word and deed that they have “been with Jesus.” We must remember, when people are called with “secular attractions” it takes bigger and more fascinating “attractions” to keep them. You cannot call people with the things of the flesh and expect them to walk after the things of the Spirit. When people are truly called by the plain and simple gospel that is all it takes to keep them. Jesus said to the woman at the well: “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” True gospel preachers and teachers never have to resort to anything except the word of God. I am never under pressure to come forward with some astounding thing that is bigger and better. As a preacher, I find that most comforting.
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 a little 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. When people listen to you and observe you, can they tell you have “been with Jesus”?
So, while the denominational world and the liberal- minded brethren 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, falling from the lips of truly spiritual men. Not lessons that are shrouded in a lot of philosophical jargon, but lessons filled with a “thus saith the Lord.” We may not have the most listeners and we may not have the biggest crowds, but we will make people who do hear us “meet for the Master’s use” and prepared for eternity (2 Tim. 2:21). After all, that’s what it’s all about.