Battlelines No. 1

We begin this series with Jeff Jenkins on the topic of preaching. Something we should never lose sight of is the need for preaching. Preaching from a pulpit, a computer screen, around a dinner table, and in our communities. When we first started brainstorming these lessons, this topic and this writer were my dream scenario. I’m so very thankful Jeff decided to share this article. We’re in a battle for the soul of the Church and the message we preach (and subsequently live) will be one of the most important ways we fight. Here’s the article, entitled Touching Eternity.

Christa McAuliffe was only thirty-eight years of age when she, along with her seven fellow crew members, lost her life in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. Among her possessions on that January day in 1986 as she boarded the shuttle was a t-shirt with the words, “I touch the future, I teach!” 

That is a beautiful sentiment we believe to be true of every person who teaches. There are many jobs, professions, and careers that touch the future in magnificent ways. I do not believe it is a stretch for preachers who preach and minister as they should to borrow that thought and humbly proclaim, “I touch eternity, I preach.” Our brother Paul reminds us of the enormity of our work in First Corinthians 1:21:

For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.

God could have selected any number of ways to deliver His Good News to mankind. He could have easily dispensed His special messengers, the hosts of Heaven, around the world to personally deliver the Gospel to every person alive. Our Mighty God could have spoken His Word for the whole world to hear from His powerful throne. John describes the scene around that Great Throne in Revelation 11:19:

And the temple of God which is in heaven was opened; and the ark of His covenant appeared in His temple, and there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder, and an earthquake, and a great hailstorm.

Paul, reminded us of the solemnity of our work when he told us we do our work in the presence of God and Jesus Christ in Second Timothy 4:1-2:

I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 

This life-changing work we are blessed to participate in is not great because of us. It is not our educational acumen, our oratorical skills, or our wisdom that requires serious consideration. It is the fact that we are preaching the Truth in the presence of God and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Preachers of old understood that we cannot craft words and messages that are effective enough. They knew that it had to be God’s Word, not theirs.

Speaking up is the easy part. Knowing what to say is something else entirely.

When King Jehoshaphat needed to know the Truth of God from a man of God he said, go get that preacher-man, Micaiah. Even though Jehoshaphat hated him, he knew that this preacher would speak the Word of God. The king’s messenger tried to get him to follow the crowd and preach like all of the other smooth-talking preachers. Micaiah would have none of it and made a statement for God that desperately needs to be remembered by all of us who claim to be God’s spokesmen in First Kings 22:14:

As the Lord lives, what the Lord says to me, that will I speak.

So why is preaching important? Biblical preaching contains the message that is the power of God unto salvation. The power is not in the messenger, it is in the Gospel. Paul did not say that it was his ability or his expertise that was the power to save mankind. The greatness of preaching is found in the authoritative Word of God and our task is to unfold it in such a way that that proves we are not ashamed of the Gospel. Never forget Romans 1:16:

I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes.

Biblical preaching reveals the mind, heart, and will of God to the world. God chose to let us know Him through His Word. When His Word is preached it becomes a life-giving event because people come in contact with our Maker.

Biblical preaching calls us to a better way of living. In a world obsessed with self-glorification, preaching calls us all to a life that glorifies God. Preaching itself is meant to glorify God and when we preach as we should God will be glorified.

Biblical preaching gives birth to churches that are healthy, flourishing, relevant, and God-glorifying. John Stott said, “Nothing is more important for the life and health of the church than biblical preaching. Churches live, grow, and flourish by the Word of God.”

Wherever the Gospel is preached in this world, communities are better, families are healthier, and individuals are stronger.

As we close, I have a simple note to preachers everywhere. God is pleased through your work to explain the mystery of salvation to the world. The world thanks you for highlighting Good News when there is a lot of bad news. The Church thanks you for reminding God’s people of God’s love and grace. Your fellow preachers thank you because we stand side by side in the greatest work known to man.

Thank you for preaching and thank you for touching eternity!


Notes

All Scripture is taken from the New King James Version (c) 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Jeff Jenkins is the pulpit minister at the Lewisville Church of Christ in Lewisville, Texas. A frequent writer and speaker, he also runs The Jenkins Institute with his brother, a website devoted to encouraging preachers and providing them with tools to better.