The Greatest Preacher
By Allan C. Oggs, Sr.
There is something about a preacher that has always fascinated me.
I had the honor and the privilege to be raised in a home of a man who received his call to preach after I was a teenager. My dad was in his early forties when God dealt with him and he accepted his call to preach. It put me in the unique position of being able to watch my carpenter dad become a preacher. It was really a fascinating thing to me. I have always admired preachers, and thrilled just to be around them.
As my dad’s ministry matured, he would often sit with his preacher friends, and they would become involved in preacher talk. More times than one, they would look up and notice a shadow over in the corner, where I would be hidden away just to listen. It was a personal thrill to be close by; to be able to listen to the preachers and what they had to say.
There is something about a preacher that has always represented a tremendous romance. Often it has sent me to my secluded area with misty eyes and visions dancing all through my head, just to have been in the presence of a real preacher. Preachers are so unpredictable, and unorthodox. I’ve seen women who have been pastors’ wives for forty years, and, on any given Sunday, you could detect on their faces that they didn’t have any idea what would happen next, or what their preacher husbands would come to next. I’ve always liked to be in the presence of a preacher.
I want to tell you about the greatest preacher this earth has ever known. He is still preaching and very active.
My dad did some things as a preacher that sometimes were resented, when his health got so bad the doctors said he would have to quit preaching. There was a time when I forgot that he was the father and I was the son. For just a little while I acted like I was the father and he was the son. I said one time, “Dad, you shouldn’t be here.” Building a new church was a strain on his heart. I would find him sitting down somewhere, wet with perspiration, his face all red and his big old chest just pounding and leaping up and down. I felt that one more rise of his chest and it would probably be the last time. I said, “Dad, you’ve no business here; you should be home instead of here. Why don’t you let me take you home, so you can go to bed and rest. You know, if you don’t build this building, it will be built.”
He would look at me and say, “You just don’t know what it’s all about. Don’t you realize that this is more than a building? This is my mission in life, and this is what I’m supposed to do.”
My dad worked and preached himself into the grave. He died building a new church. The only explanation he would give was, “Son, you’ll just have to realize that besides being your dad, I’m also a preacher.”
Thank God for men who sacrifice and make such strong contributions, giving all until nothing is left. But my dad could not hold a candle to the preacher that I have in mind-the earth’s greatest preacher.
An old preacher stood one day on a dry sandy beach, with nothing attractive about him except for the dream that he had in his eyes. He stood there, with sea weeds wrapped around his ears and draped over his shoulders. You see, he had just come from a very deep experience in the bottom of the sea. There is something about reading the story of Jonah, as he stood there in consecration and his deep experience, with so much of the past dangling from him. By the time that Jonah made it to the beach, he had eyes only for the future. Then he went downtown with only one message. He stood there, without the advantage of microphones or advance publicity, yet he was able to shake the city from the peddler on the corner to the splendor of a king’s palace. It has always thrilled me to think that all this took place. A city fasted, sat on the ground and waited upon God. Think how a city was saved in a day because of one man. God made this one man a unique preacher.
Oh! There’s something about a preacher that fascinates me. Jonah must have been a great preacher. But compared to the preacher that I have in mind, Jonah would have to go back the second time to get his local license. I am talking about a preacher who has been more effective than turning a city to repentance, as Jonah did. The greatest preacher this earth has ever known.
I sat once and listened to a man preach. His coat did not fit too well, his hair was all untidy, his suit was not without wrinkles. He did not really make a striking appearance, and his vocabulary did not consist of words with more than four syllables. He stood with his dime-store vocabulary and preached two and one-half hours. All the time that great preacher preached, I was praying secretly that he might forget the clock was ever invented. I was hoping he would keep on preaching, because the longer he preached, the more of God I felt. How I liked to be around such a real preacher. Still, you could not compare him to this greatest preacher the earth has ever known.
You talk about unorthodox! This preacher that I have in mind has preached at conferences and conventions often. But he has also preached inn dance halls, on General Motors assembly lines, in fox holes; in fact, there is no way of knowing when he will grab his Bible, snatch up an apple box to stand on and declare again the whole counsel of God. I heard that once in a discussion in a high school biology class, the subject was evolution, and before anyone realized it, this preacher was there and tore up the theory of evolution.
You see, this preacher is unpredictable. That’s what I like about him. He might show up any place. He is the greatest preacher this earth has ever known, and his name is Conscience. I don’t know exactly where he lives, but a long time ago when God placed the eyes in the empty sockets of your head, and when he took your left arm and connected it to your left shoulder, somewhere in your body he reserved place for a little chapel. In that chapel he erected a pulpit. Behind that pulpit he appointed and anointed a minister. Unique? Oh yes, it’s unique. For you see, the great preacher practiced. When the Lord charged him, He said, “Now listen, preacher, even though your ministry will be dynamic, it will be restricted. The congregation will not be very large; in fact, there will be only one person in your assembly. Conscience, I want you to preach to only the person you live in. Don’t ever let him alone. Every place he goes, I want you to go with him. Declare to him the way to happiness, and show to him the pitfalls of unrighteous living.” Oh Yes! He can preach. This preacher can really be effective.
I knew a boy extremely well. This boy was about eleven or twelve years old. He was raised in the home of a Pentecostal family, and his dad was a preacher. One Friday night when the boy was supposed to be going to a scout meeting, he jumped on his bike and, instead of going to the scout meeting, he went to a neighborhood theatre. He bought a ticket, went inside and sat down rather awkwardly-this fellow I knew. He was thinking that if they didn’t turn the lights out soon, everybody would know he was there. He sat there and wiggled and squirmed, and prayed for the lights to go off. Finally the lights began to dim, and darkness came. This young fellow took a deep breath, and thought, “Now my deeds are evil, and this is real dark; we ought to be compatible. Here’s darkness; I’m in the right place.” When the lights went out, the boy thought, “Now this is my time to really enjoy myself.”
Little did the boy know that when the lights went out, the preacher on the inside of him would grab his Bible and stroll to his pulpit. For, you see, when this boy thought that it was show time the preacher thought it was church time. Even before he started to preach, his congregation got nervous. He realized that something was just about to happen. Sure enough, there in the theatre, in the big city of New Orleans, the preacher took a text, looked that young man right in the eye, and said, “You have no business here.” You could tell by the fervor of his message that he had a real good anointing. He really put his finger in my face, and said, “You’ve got no business here! It’s real dark, but did you know that when it lights up it might be afire, and you might be sitting here when this place catches on fire, then all they will have to show that you were here is your little red bicycle sitting outside.”
Oh! You talk about preaching! My conscience took a text and really began to touch all the soft spots. (You see, he really knows me, and your preacher really understands you.) He got to touching all those weak spots, and before I realized it, I thought I could smell smoke. I felt if I didn’t get out, there was no telling what would happen. I went and told the manager I wanted to get out, but I wanted my money back.
She told me, “Well, you can leave anytime you wish, but we only return money to those who are real sick.”
I said, “Lady, I want you to take a real good look at me. You don’t realize it, but I’m really sick. There’s something on the inside of me that if it ever bursts, I’m liable to die right here.” She let me have my money, and away I went.
Oh yes! He can really be an effective preacher. He’s been preaching for a long time, and he knows you even better than you know yourself. He is ordained, anointed, inspired, invigorated, and a persuasive preacher. I pray to God that He won’t let you alone until you listen to what the preacher has to say. Oh! He can preach! He’s always been effective.
One little fellow sneaked into a basketball game. He went to buy his ticket, but a window was right beside the ticket agent, and it was open. He couldn’t resist. Instead of buying his ticket, he looked at the open window and thought, “They shouldn’t leave windows open that close to the ground when there are little boys like me to climb through.” So through he went. This made the game more appealing. He thought, “I’m sitting here with a secret. Not only am I here at the ball game, but I know a secret that no one else knows. I crawled through the window.”
He sat through the ball game, and went home that night and got into bed. He was really enjoying his secret. He said, “Good night Mama,” but he must have said it too loud. When he told his mom good night, it was just like saying, “Shall we all stand as we bring to the pulpit the speaker for the evening.” When he said good night, something on the inside of him began to shake itself. When the little boy put his head on the pillow, something said, “You’re not comfortable; maybe you should roll over.” Then it said, “You’re still not comfortable; maybe you should not sleep on a pillow.” No matter how he lay, he was miserable. He rolled and tossed and turned, and his preacher went to work on him.
For, you see, this preacher is not a novice; he knows how to make his congregation miserable. If you only would listen to the preacher inside of you. Hear it, hear it, for this preacher is talking to you. This preacher knows you. He’s effective. Jeremiah may have had his ministry of contrition, Ezekiel may have been a bone mender, and Elijah may have had altars of fire and chariots as swift as the wind, but this preacher is not without stories to tell. He has lived with some great stories. He really preaches some outstanding messages.
Once a king came before Samuel, the man of God. Samuel said, “Saul, what have you done?”
Saul said, “I’ve done only what I was supposed to do. When you are looking at me, Samuel, you are looking at an example of someone who only reacts in the will of God.”
When Saul said this to Samuel, the preacher, the one standing in the pulpit of Saul, the one on the inside, leaped up and said, “Saul you know better than that. You might stand here and tell Samuel these stories, but Saul, you know better than that.”
The next thing you know, Saul was down on his knees asking Samuel to pray for him. His conscience began to pound, began to stomp. It got louder and louder, until Saul realized he had better pray. The preacher brought a king to his knees.
Yes, he’s a very effective preacher. He doesn’t ever stop. He drove one man all the way to the land of Nod. Even in the land of Nod, every time he looked at the ground, the preacher would say, “Listen to it, Cain. I think it’s talking to you.” Every time Cain put his foot on the dust of the desert, he had the ill feeling that he might be walking on his brother. You see, his conscience was being activated by God. It would never leave him alone.
You can scale the highest mountain, you can travel into the deepest valleys, you can blast trumpets and chant songs and poetry, but you can never get away from the preacher. He belongs to you. He lives with you. He goes with you. He is ever so active.
My mom and dad came into the church forty-five years ago. Just after they were filled with the Holy Ghost, they lost out with God. While living away from God, they went one night to a dance. That night, when all the colored lights were splashing on the floor and leaping on the walls, my mom and dad were having what they thought was a wonderful time. My mom stayed on her toes a swirling most of the time, enjoying the evening.
While they danced there together, the side door of this dance hall opened, and through all the blinking lights you could distinguish a little woman dressed in a uniform. Looking at her more closely, you could see that she was from the Salvation Army. She stood there in that sinful place and took out her tambourine. She went to those who were sitting on the side first, asking them if they could make a contribution. I don’t know the details, or how it all took place, but somehow that courageous little woman with the brass buttons on her coat and that stern, aggressive approach, amidst all my mom’s swirling skirts, all of her frolic and gaiety, somehow fell in step with my mother. When my mother turned in a swirl, she looked into the face of this courageous woman, who lifted her tambourine and placed it right in my mother’s face. The music was still blasting, the lights were still flashing, laughter, frolic and pleasure were waltzing on tiptoe. But this little woman asked, “Young lady, could you spare 25c for Jesus?”
There it was-the music and the lights, the couples, the smoke and all that goes with it. But right there on that floor, when that little woman asked for 25c for Jesus, it could not have been any more church if it had been in a church building. When she said that, it was as if she said, “Now we bring our speaker to the pulpit for the evening.” My mother turned around, and when she heard the word Jesus mentioned, something she thought had been submerged beneath the waves and waters of pleasure emerged, began to gather its notes and its preaching materials, and stood right there and preached to my mother. She was visibly shaken and touched by this little army woman. You see, what really happened, the preacher on the inside of that dancing girl grabbed its Bible, quoted its text and began to preach to my mother.
In the midst of all the lights and music, my mother grabbed my dad by the arm and said, “We’ve got to get out of this place.” He wanted to know why, but she didn’t take time to tell him. She just wanted out of there quickly. She could have said, “It all started to happen on the inside; the choir was singing and the musicians were playing and the preacher was preaching. Church was in session.” You see, the preacher on the inside of her was beginning to preach.
He is a tremendous preacher. Oh yes! He’ll go with you in the rain. He’ll walk with you down the icy slopes. He’ll go with you today and tomorrow. He’ll go with you to your high school class. He’ll go with you to your room. He’ll never let you alone. He is a great preacher! He’s the greatest preacher that this earth has ever known.
It doesn’t pay to ignore him. It doesn’t pay to walk away from the preacher. Achan learned this. When he stood there, his family was piled up in a heap of mangled flesh; his wife and his children had been battered and splattered all over the country-side. They had stoned the family of Achan, and then they gathered up all the broken bones of his boys and girls and wife. I am sure if you could have read Achan’s mind, right before it was his turn to die, he would have said, “I knew better when I took that wedge of gold, when I played with that garment of Babylon. I should have listened to what the preacher had to say when I touched them the first time.” It doesn’t pay to ignore the preacher.
I sat in a courtroom several years ago and listened to the case develop of a high school senior who had attended Sunday school regularly. He was tall and weighed about 200 pounds; an A student with an I.Q. that exceeded 130. I sat there for several days and I could see, as they went from one to another, who it was that loved the boy. Finally the jury went out after they had heard all the case.
The prosecutor had pointed out how cold and brutal the murder had been. The jury left, and I felt like getting violent myself. The court personnel was so cold and uncouth. There in front of the family the old courtroom cowboys all started laughing and taking bets on whether the boy would live or die. Those who loved the boy sat there and heard all this.
In a few minutes the jury came back, the defendant came back, and the foreman of the jury stood. The judge called for the verdict, and the foreman of the jury, with a trembling voice and shaking head, was moved with emotion himself. He said, “We find the defendant guilty of murder in the first degree.” He was just a high school senior, and you can imagine the impact it had on this small town courthouse.
The judge said, “Son, please stand.” (He was already standing.) “Is there anything you’d like to say before I explain to you your next step?”
He said, “Judge, the only thing I’d like to say is that I wish I had listened. Oh, how I wish I had listened!”
The judge got excited. “Listened? Didn’t you hear your case presented? Is there something that was said you did not understand? What do you mean, you wish you had listened?”
“Judge,” he said, “On that Christmas Eve night, when I was almost too drunk to run, I pushed the button on that pearl handle, and the great big blade just leaped out. When I held that knife, and chased that boy on the parking lot, something kept pace with me. I could not outrun it. It kept on saying to me, ‘Don’t you do it.’ I finally caught the boy, and he lay there, white and frightened. I looked at him and laughed. Even then, the whisper got stronger. It screamed and said, ‘Thou shalt not kill! Don’t you dare kill.’ While I heard these sounds, I took that knife and plunged it into his belly.”
Do you know what that was? The preacher began to reach way back and draw from three dozen Primary classes, and two dozen Junior classes, and three or four months of Senior High classes. Every bit of Scripture and every bit of knowledge the preacher had, he reached for, and used all of it. The preacher said, “You’re not supposed to kill. It doesn’t pay to kill. You won’t get away with it. I warn you that you’ll go to hell. Don’t take his life.”
You see, it doesn’t pay to ignore the preacher. It’s dangerous. You are holding your future in your own hands. You’re flirting with destiny when you dare to walk away from the preacher.
I wonder how many pitfalls we have avoided because we listened to the preacher. We’re all human, and if you’re not, pray for me, because I am. In fact, several times it has turned out that- I’m human. Sometimes it’s kind of shocking when I find it out.
I remember one time I preached in a place and the preacher gave me what I thought was a lot of money. Oh, you talk about wealthy! I really had the money. I said to myself, “Brother, I’ll come back here.” You see, my pocket was all puffed out. I went to the airport, and the pastor said he was real busy, so I understood when he told me good-bye in the parking lot. I went on to the airport, thinking I was headed home. But my ticket had been dated wrong, and this meant there wasn’t passage for me. My three-hour trip home took twenty-four hours. I got bumped in every airport the plane landed in.
One place I got put off the plane was in Chicago. There I was in that great big city, with that eight-hour layover, and just a little bit aggravated. I was hungry, and I let it show to the ticket agent and everyone around me. Even to the Devil! I had all that money, and the Devil started to talk to me. He said, “You have a right to be aggravated, for you have worked hard to get everyone else tithe payers and new saints, and now look at you. Man this is just the thing. You could drop sixty bucks, and still go home with more money than you thought you would make. Your wife wouldn’t know, and she has lost track of you. You have called her so many times she doesn’t know where you are. You have preached about all these things for years, and now is your chance to know what it is all about, and no one will ever know the difference. I’ll show you a time like you have never had before, and you’ll never forget.”
When my preacher on the inside heard that, he jumped up and started screaming and jumping and kicking over the pews, and he said, “You better believe that last part, because I’ll never let you forget till your dying day. I’ll remind you every minute of every day if you go outside of that door. Now you get over in that chair and you sit there and don’t you get up.” You know what I did? I got myself a chair, and sat in it for eight hours. When I look back now, and then look at my wife and my children, I can embrace them and hold them right with a clear conscience, void of offence.
Thank God for the preacher! It doesn’t pay not to listen to the preacher. For, you see, tragedy is in store for you if you ignore the preacher. You are really in trouble if you ignore the preacher.
Perhaps your preacher is saying to you now, “You know you ought to surrender to God.” There’s something way down deep inside your heart that is talking to you, it’s preaching to you, it’s whispering, it’s screaming loud. Don’t ignore the preacher, the greatest preacher on the earth, Conscience.