Some Preaching MUSTS!

Glendol McClure

In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus commanded saying, “... All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” Cf. Mark 16:15, 16.

These accounts of Jesus commanding his apostles to go and teach are commonly called the “Great Commission.” This commission proclaimed by Jesus is great in several senses:

$          First, it is great because of the commander who ordered it–Jesus Christ the Son of God who has “all authority in heaven and in earth” (Matt. 28:18). What greater authority could there be?

$          Second, it is great because of its universal scope“to all nations,” “to every creature.”

$          Third, it is great because of the message that Jesus commanded to be preached–“to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you,” this being “the gospel of Christ, the power of God unto salvation”  (Rom. 1:16).

$          Fourth, it was great because of the results that would follow to those who gladly received, believed and obeyed all things commanded–“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved....”

$          Fifth, it is great because of the warning to those who reject the saving message–“but he that believeth not shall be damned.”

$          Sixth, it is great because of the love expressed by God for a lost and dying world (Jn. 3:16, 17). Truly, this command of Jesus Christ to preach the gospel to all the world is the “Great Commission!”

With this “Great Commission” comes great responsibilities to those who preach the saving gospel. Preachers and teachers of the gospel of Christ must realize this and so preach and teach accordingly. Please consider the following:

Preaching MUST be based on the “the faith that was once delivered” (Jude 3). There are many “faiths” in the religious world but only the “faith that comes by hearing and by hearing the word of God” will save man from sin (Rom. 10:17; Cf. Gal. 3:22-28). No other system of faith will save! The gospel that is preached cannot be “another gospel which is not another” (Gal. 1:6, 7). It must be the pure and simple gospel revealed by Jesus Christ and His apostles.

Preaching MUST be done boldly and with fervor. The pulpit is no place for a timid or compromising soul. The apostle Paul preached boldly (Acts 9:27-29; 14:3; 19:8). Barnabas spoke boldly (Acts 14:3). The preaching of the apostles was most certainly bold! They were not men-pleasers. They preached to save the souls of men, while glorying in the sufferings they endured for the cause of Christ (2 Cor. 1:5-10). The apostle Paul served the Lord and served those he came in contact with a feast of spiritual food that would save their souls.  Paul wrote, “For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10). 

Preaching MUST specifically identify, sin, error and false teachers. The preaching of Paul was not clouded with uncertain and obscure words. Paul did not use the “wisdom of men” or fair speech, but proclaimed the gospel in a plain and understandable manner (1 Cor. 2:1-8; 5:1-8). Many today don’t like or desire such preaching. Paul warned young Timothy, “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Tim. 4:1-4).

Paul marked and identified false teachers, and enemies and deserters of the truth (Acts 13:6-12; 2 Tim. 2:18; 4:10, 14). Today, if a brother teaches error, those who identify the teacher of the error are often be-rated an accused of “being brotherhood watch dogs, making personal attacks or void of ‘brotherly love’.” Really, those who make such accusations against a gospel preacher who identifies a false teacher and refutes his teaching are void of the love of God, and hypocritical themselves! Beware of such critics (1 Kg. 18:17, 18; Prov. 17:15)!

Preaching MUST be positive and negative! Many today want only the positive type of preaching that will make them feel good. Their appeal is to the “positive mental attitude” (PMA) approach. “Don’t condemn; don’t call names; don’t hurt anyone's feelings; don’t mention other denominations; don’t be negative; but, be amusing, ‘sprinkle in little wit’ and just preach the ‘gospel’ and leave everyone alone.” Have you ever heard that?  If and when you do, beware!  Some “gospel preachers” and have shed the spiritual armor, laid down the sword of the spirit and have put on the clothing of haughtiness and picked up a sugar stick instead. Recently, in a discussion with a brother who was critical of negative preaching, this brother argued his point by saying, “you can catch more flies with honey.”  I am amazed and saddened that anyone would compare the preaching of the gospel of Christ to fly-catching! I didn’t know we were in the fly-catching business. Did you?

Did Christ and the apostles appeal to the PMA style of preaching? NO! Jesus was negative when he rebuked the Pharisees (Matt. 23)! Paul was negative when he rebuked Peter to his face and those with him that “walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel” (Gal. 2:11-14)! Paul was negative when he condemned Elymas the sorcerer saying, “...O full of all subtlety and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?  And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season” (Acts 13:10).

Yes, Jesus and the apostles were negative! But they were positive as well. Paul illustrates the positive and negative nature of his preaching and writing in his letter to the Thessalonians. Paul wrote words of commendation yet preached boldly to them– “For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile: But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts. For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloak of covetousness; God is witness: Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children: So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us” (1 Thess. 2:3-8).

Preaching MUST be motivated by love for the truth and the souls of mankind. Unfortunately, many do not have a love for the truth and the souls of men. Instead, their motivation is the praise of men, a good pay check, popularity, getting along to get along, unity in diversity, etc.  Motivation of this sort will not save man from sin and will only result in lost souls. Paul warned of such when he wrote, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (Rom. 16:17, 18). These we need to be watchful for and oppose!

Finally, Preaching must clearly teach of the joys and reward of heaven. But, must clearly identify sin, error and those involved in it and warn the disobedient of the danger of hell and its torment (Acts 18:1-11; 1 Cor. 6:9-11; 2 Thess. 1:9). Sinners must be taught to repent or perish (Lk. 13:3, 5)!  The hearts of men in sin and error must be smitten and pricked with the truth of the gospel. Sugar coated preaching will not convict the hearers of their sins, will not identify error and is void of Godly love (Acts 2:22-38; 6:9-7:60). Jesus and the apostles were motivated by the love of souls in their preaching. As they preached the love of God, “righteousness, temperance and judgement to come,” so MUST we!  “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart. I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O LORD, thou knowest.  I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation” (Psa. 40:8-10).