2 Timothy 4:2, “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.”
1 Corinthians 2:4, “My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.”
Long time Moody Church pastor, Dwight L. Moody said, “The best way to revive the church is to build a fire in the pulpit.”
Pastor Ken Hutchinson, writes, “We need a shaking in the pulpit…”
John MacArthur, writes, “Fearless preaching is all the more necessary in dangerous times, when people will not tolerate the truth. That’s when courageous, outspoken preachers are most desperately needed to speak it.” He continues, “Sound preaching confronts and rebukes sin, and people in love with sinful lifestyles will not tolerate such teaching. They want to have their ears tickled. Churches are so engrossed in trying to please non-Christians that many have forgotten their first duty is to please God.”
Our future as a nation will be determined by rekindling the fire in America’s preachers, whose flame will ignite the people. The French politician, Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859) said on a visit to America, “I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers, and it was not there; in her fertile fields and boundless prairies; and it was not there; in her rich mines and vast world commerce, and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power.”
“The powerful preaching of the Word of God has mostly been replaced today by friendly talks from the stage. However, this has not always been the case. In times past, the pulpit was a powerful place and men came to church to hear the Word of God proclaimed with great conviction. Today’s friendly talks fall far short of the powerful preaching that occurred in the pulpits of the Reformers and others who saw the Bible as the very Word of God. John Knox preached a famous sermon on November 8, 1559 from Psalm 180. Iain Murray in his book A Scottish Christian Heritage writes, “For years to come men spoke of the effect of that one sermon. The listeners acted like men brought back from the dead. The words of the English ambassador, spoken on a later occasion, describe it perfectly: ‘The voice of one man is able in one hour to put more life in us than five hundred trumpets continually blustering in our ears.’” –firstname.lastname@example.org
“The backslider likes the preaching that wouldn't hit the side of a house, while the real disciple is delighted when the truth brings him to his knees.” ―Billy Sunday
“I preached as never sure to preach again, and as a dying man to dying men.” ―Richard Baxter
“To preach Christ is to feed the soul, to justify it, to set it free, and to save it, if it believes the preaching.” ―Martin Luther
“Any true definition of preaching must say that that man is there to deliver the message of God, a message from God to those people. If you prefer the language of Paul, he is 'an ambassador for Christ'. That is what he is. He has been sent, he is a commissioned person…” –D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
“If there were a day in which a strong word is needed it is now. It’s time for some strong talk and a strong pulpit.” –Chuck Swindoll
Are you experiencing this anointing from the Holy Spirit? “Preaching is preaching only when the messenger is anointed with the Holy Spirit…Only the anointing of the Holy Spirit can make great preaching.”
1 John 2:20,21, “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth.”
1 John 2:27, “But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.”
The following is adapted, with my own interpretation, from the late David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Minister, Westminster Chapel, London:
“To me there is nothing more terrible for a preacher, than to be in the pulpit alone, without the conscious smile of God” Preaching is a demonstration of the power of God. “My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Corinthians 2:4). I am convinced that many preachers do not know what it is to preach in the power of the Holy Spirit, or what it is not! “Many congregations are doomed to listen to a powerless preacher, a man without unction (anointing), one upon whom the fire of God never seems to rest. What a strange anomaly it is to see an unanointed servant of the Living God, who is an eternal fire. How can such creatures exist?”
1. This anointing is not a permanent possession. Some may experience it more than others, but none can assume it. We need a fresh supply every time we stand to preach. Peter was anointed and filled with power on the day of Pentecost, and it enabled him to preach (Acts 2). Later in Acts, Peter and John are called before the Sanhedrin because of their preaching. When called to give an account, the Scripture says, “The Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit said…” (Acts 4:8). We see the anointing of the Holy Spirit, empowering Christ’s disciples throughout their ministries. There are times when we need “fresh oil” Psalm 92:10, “I have been anointed with fresh oil.” This anointing lifts the preacher out of himself and gives supernatural power when he needs it most. Preachers, can we say with Jesus, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel…” (Luke 4:18). If Jesus Christ needed that anointing, are we so out of touch with spiritual reality as to believe that we can preach without it?
Every time you enter your pulpit, your prayer should be, “Lord, fill we with Your Holy Spirit for the task You have placed before me.”
2. This anointing is given entirely upon the sovereign will of the Holy Spirit. How many times have we finished in the pulpit with feelings of defeat, looking for a hole to crawl into? Many times I have walked from the pulpit and slipped out the back door during the closing prayer, feeling like a total failure. Just because the Holy Spirit anoints you once, does not guarantee that His mighty power will be there every time you step up to the pulpit. I read of an ancient pastor who sat praying for four hours, just waiting for the Spirit’s anointing. The amazing part of this story is that the people sat in the pews and waited. The modern congregation would have scattered at noon. Our prayer should always be, “Lord, fill me for the task before me.”
Now I know that God will use His word every time it is preached. “So shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth: it shall not return to Me void [without producing any effect, useless], but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11 AMP). The difference in the anointed preacher is the boldness and confidence present when the dynamic of the Holy Spirit is in operation. Paul writes. “And for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:19).
3. This anointing is not contingent upon the strength of the preacher. It is said of Paul, “For his letters,” they say, “are weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible” (2 Corinthians 10:10). “I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Corinthians 2:3,4). As I understand the setting of one of the greatest sermons ever preached in America, Sinners in the hands of an angry God, Jonathon Edwards was ill, speaking in a very low voice in a church with very little lighting, yet God used that sermon to begin a nation-wide revival. With authority he spoke “in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.”
4. This anointing confirms there is more to preaching than speaking. We may have prepared the greatest sermon that has ever been put together in the history of the church, but it can be as cold as a chilling frost if delivered without the power of God’s Holy Spirit. When will we learn that we don’t just preach sermons, we preach to people? Our focus is never on the sermon, it is on the hearers. Our job is not done by just delivering the sermon. If the message does not plant itself into the hearts of our listeners, it is indeed like a killing frost. “For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance…” (1 Thessalonians 1:5). The man should prepare his…sermons and put all of his abilities and knowledge into them; but he should realize that unless the Spirit comes upon them, they will be of no avail. The Spirit generally uses man’s best preparation…(but) it is preparation plus the anointing. I tried to impress on my Bible College students, Prepare it well, think it through, live it experientially, pray it in, then preach it out!
5. This anointing may flow with the power of God even if the preparation is lacking. This certainly does not advocate poor preparation. We have all faced times in our ministry when we were too busy, too tired, with too little time to prepare as we should and God came down anyway! Remember, it is “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6). And with Paul, we say again, “My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Corinthians 2:4).
6. This anointing of the Holy Spirit causes us to burn. Listen preacher, If we catch on fire people will come to watch us burn! Preaching is theology coming through a man who is on fire. My definition of preaching is, teaching wit a tear in its eye. There must be emotion involved in the message. Oswald Sanders said of John the Baptist, “Immersed in the oil of the Spirit and touched by the fire of God, his life became incandescent. The secret of his effectiveness lay in the fact that his whole personality was dominated and inner-penetrated by the Holy Spirit.” Do we long for the fire of God to fall? Like Elijah do we await a fire bolt from heaven to ignite our offering, the offering of words? Many years ago I heard Dr. Bob Ketchem give his definition of preaching, “Start low, go slow, then rise higher, catch fire and burn them up.”
7. This anointing involves the congregation. Place a high value on your audience. You can’t preach without a congregation. The very existence of a body of people in itself is a part of preaching. There is an interaction between pulpit and pew. I’ve heard many preachers say they don’t like to preach away from home. Why? There is a familiarity with the people who know us and love us. We draw strength from our congregation. What do they do for us? They pray for us! They respond to God’s Word. They build us up and encourage us. They are the dynamic that causes us to want an infusion of power, an anointing. We want to bless them and they want to be blessed. People are tired of living on the mundane plains called, “Just existence.” They want to be raised to a newness in life. Hopefully, preacher, you do that for them!
(These seven points end Dr. Jones outline. I hope my remarks being included didn’t take away from what he was teaching, pastor John).
Can preaching change anything?
Look at Elijah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, and Paul. Look at John the Baptist, sun-scorched, desert-bred, fire-baptized, with a face like judgment morning, the fire of God in his eyes, the authority of God in his voice, a passion for God in his soul, and the power of God in his message.
Look at Jeremiah! He spent his entire life preaching do people who hated him, people who did not want to hear him. His commission from God was to “Root out and to pull down, and to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant” (Jeremiah 1:10). “The Lord has spoken his word to me again and again for these past twenty-three years. I have been a prophet since the thirteenth year of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah. I have spoken messages from the Lord to you from that time until today, but you have not listened” (Jeremiah 25:3).
There is just no substitute for Bible preaching. It is the preacher’s feeble ability to proclaim it. He studies it; prays for God to empower it; then he submits it to the power of the Holy Spirit; then it is God’s job to make it effective. The Holy Spirit can do what we cold never do. He is able to heal from the inside out! He is the one who relieves the suffering, the one who bring comfort to the grieving, the one who takes away the anger, bitterness, anguish, discouragement and depression. Only He can heal broken hearts, broken homes, broken churches, and even broken pastors.
Unless otherwise noted, the New King James Version of the Bible was used. Also The New Living Translation (NLT); The New American Standard Bible (NASB); The Message (MSG); The New Century Version (NCV); The Amplified Bible (AMP); The King James Version (KJV), The New Life Version (NLV); English Standard Version (ESV); J.B. Phillips New Testament; Easy to Read Version (ERV); Common English bible (CEB); NET Bible (NET) and The Living Bible (TLB). Contemporary English Version (CEV).
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