Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Importance of Preaching

By way of a disclaimer, I'll start by saying that what you will read today will seem self serving from my point of view. I can assure you that it is not, but in fact, there is a purpose for me recording these particular thoughts. That purpose is consistent with everything that you read here and that is 1) for the glory of God and 2) in service to His people. That having been said...

There are a variety of opinions about the person whose responsibility it is to provide the preached word. There are some that idolize and place these men upon pedestals far beyond reach. Conversely, there are those that feel that the preacher, minister, evangelist is no better than anyone else and only exists to share a few words for a few moments and move on. Admittedly, most people feel that the importance of what the man does (rather than necessarily who he is) lies somewhere in the middle.

I'd like to share a few thoughts about what thus saith the Lord about the "man of God."

"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach except they be sent? As it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!'" Rom 10:13-15

Allow me to extract a couple of points from this passage:
  • God's ultimate aim is that all men everywhere would be saved. The reason He sent His Son was to seek and save the lost. Jesus' death created a path of reconciliation between man and God. His fervent desire is that His ultimate creation love Him and seek Him. The reality is that people don't instinctively know the truth. According to Romans 1:20, there are things that should give all creatures an inkling of a higher power, but there is so much more to it than that.
  • It is only when there is an awareness of his existence that belief can be nurtured and brought to full fruition of obedience. Only through obedience can one be saved.
  • This awareness and everything that follows cannot happen unless there is someone to do the telling. Someone must introduce the concept, explain the rationale and reality. Someone must show the "how to", the benefits and the consequences. It is nothing less than evangelism.
  • Though we all have the responsibility to share God's word and God's love with all we meet, there is a particular individual in the church that is charged with that responsibility. According to the scripture, that is the preacher. This is fortified by the fact that preacher is sent. To under gird this thought, read Eph 4:11-16 to see not only that God placed these men in the church, but also to see WHY (and you know we as thinking people always want to know why). I submit to you beloved reader, that each one mentioned in vs 11 was in fact engaged in preaching; sharing the word, bringing good tidings, carrying forth the word of God, teaching, reproving, correcting and instructing in righteousness. Each apostle was a preacher. Each prophet was a preacher. Many disciples were preachers.

What we think of the man engaged in preaching is a separate issue. From these passages, we can see that the heralds of Christ, the ministers, preachers, evangelists, etc. are sent men, ordained by God to carry forth His word to His people. This is primarily, but not exclusively done in the worship service. Christ Himself repeatedly spoke both in and out of the synagogue, not about social events or how to build cabinetry, but about God. We know that it was Paul's habit to go into the synagogue (a place of worship) and preach the word of God. Even the gentiles were attracted to these Jewish institutions to hear about the Lord. In fact, the preached word (unfortunately) is all the God that many people get. It is absolutely indispensable and shares an important role in the worship service along with the other elements we characteristically lump together as "worship." Preaching is a critical part of not only the worship service, but of our Christian lives. God has ordained it. So let it be understood. So let it be done.

Each one reach one.

Each one teach one!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Haven't You Heard?

In our human interactions, one of the most frequent activities in which we engage is communication. One way or the other, we are almost constantly sharing information. Whether we do it verbally, in writing, body language or gestures, ideas fly back and forth between us at rates of speed that would flabbergast if one were to stop and think about it.

The question of the day, especially to Christians, is what information is being transmitted and what information is being received? I submit to you that each of us should be employed in sharing the good news of Christ's sacrifice for us. There is no information that can be shared that is as important, as critical, as timely and as classic as the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.

Of course this is something that we all know. Big deal right? RIGHT! Our problem is that we don't treat it as the big deal that it is. What is the most urgent thing you might share with a co-worker, neighbor or acquaintance? Is it highlights from your favorite TV show? Is it a fabulous sale at a local retail outlet? Is it gossip about a mutual acquaintance? More to the point, is it EVER the gospel?

You see as Christians, we have been given specific instructions to share the good news. Matt 28:18-20 is known as the Great Commission. It is a command to all believers to help make other believers.

Some may realize this but are not sure how to go about it. Without going into an extensive class on evangelism, I'll give you three simple tips that, properly employed, will work for anyone who uses them.
  1. Know the gospel: It is important that you familiarize yourself with God's word. For everyone that believes, this should be a life long pursuit. If you have come to the knowledge and understanding that God has granted you a free gift that you cannot earn, it stands to reason that job one should be learning what else He has provided. One of the things He has provided is instruction. Acts 17:11-12 reveals that our ancestors in the faith received (heard and learned) the word, verified the teaching through study of the word, and believed by confirmation of the word. The key is the word!
  2. Live the gospel: You can always tell what's important to a person by how they spend their time. You can always tell what type of person someone is by what they do when they think no one is watching. Do the people in your sphere consider you a child of God or a pretender...or do they have an opinion at all. "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." Matt 5:16 It should be obvious that you serve God in your words AND deeds. It is this light that attracts those that are in darkness.
  3. Share the gospel: It is the greatest story ever told and the truest story ever told. Of all of the things we could share with others, none exceeds the fact that our sins have been paid for through no effort of our own. Salvation is full and free! This is something that should be, as Jeremiah famously said, "like fire shut up in our bones," ostensibly, burning to get out. There are many ways to start a conversation about the Lord, but my advice is to just be yourself and tell others what your experience has been. Talk about the difference He has made in your life, talk about what He has done for all mankind, and talk about how anyone can accept God's free gift. It's not nearly as hard as we make it. You could always tell someone what you were told that caused you to accept Christ.

Sharing God's good news should not only be something about which we are all enthusiastic, but it literally should come naturally to us. Sometimes we just need to shut off the radio, TV and Internet and just have a little talk about Jesus.

Each one reach one.

Each one teach one!