IN DEFENSE OF PREACHING
By Winfred Toole
In the plan of God, there is absolutely nothing that will take the place of preaching. God chose a definite method to bring salvation to the lost world. The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ purchased our redemption and made it possible for everyone to be saved from sin. He also chose a definite means by which the Gospel would reach the world, and that means is preaching. The Apostle Paul stated in I Corinthians 1:21, “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” Since this is the God chosen method and since He has ordained it to be the only means by which men in be saved, it is of utmost importance that we give it rightful place in all our efforts to reach the lost world.
There has always been and will always be a subtle tendency to substitute other means in tempting to reach the souls of men. We must beware lest we fall into the snare of allowing other means and methods to take the central place of prominence that it must have. We must beware of our own human reasoning. What is foolishness with men is the wisdom of God. The world by its own wisdom could never come to know God and be saved. Therefore it follows that we by our own wisdom can never find any way that will take the place of the method God has chosen. It may seem foolishness at times but it is God’s only way it will always work even when we do not understand it.
It takes preaching to reach the lost souls of men. It also takes preaching to perfect the believer into a mature Christian. When a person is born into the new life in Christ it is a vital importance that he be fed the sincere milk of the Word that he may grow thereby. This is the only way he can grow, by hearing the Word of God preached. If preaching is not done often enough, and is not regarded as God’s singular method of building up the believer by feeding his soul with divine truth, souls will become weak and sickly and an easy prey for false teachers and doctrines. They are hungry to be fed, so they will listen and be deceived. The Apostle Paul warned Timothy of this in II Timothy 4:1-4 when he said, “Preach the Word…for the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine. . . they shall turn away their ears from the truth and be turned unto fables.” For the sake of sincere hearted saints we must keep preaching the sound doctrinal truths of the Word of God.
Not only is preaching the only means of saving the lost and building up believers in the truth, but it is the only means by which the church can be kept holy in this sinful world. No amount of legislation and the making of rules, as important as they are in defining our position and as safeguards against the unruly and lawless, will take the place of preaching. It must be declared over and over again so that it will sink down deep into the hearts of men. Each new generation must hear it and hear it enough to believe it. Old fashioned Holy Ghost anointed preaching will still bring conviction on honest hearts and accomplish that which nothing else can.
God give us men today who will stand up and preach the Word without fear and favor that others may live and that the truth may continue until Jesus comes.
WHERE HAS ALL THE PREACHING GONE
By Rex Deckard
The days come, saith the Lord, that I will send famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord…they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.” (Amos 8:11,12).
It happened again, I had driven for hours with my family on this well-prepared trip. We had our reservations early and checked into the motel. I knew that this was a conference where I would get the direction I was looking for. And then it came…the well respected preacher who had sought the Lord and diligently preached, preached just what I needed to hear! We shouted, we wept, we prayed, and then we left. On the way home I realized that, I didn’t even remember what he had preached.
Years ago, they claim messages were preached that you would never forget. They lingered as the focus of after dinner discussions. They became assimilated into the thinking of people and the personalities of churches. This doesn’t seem to happen nowdays very much. In an age of tape ministry, preaching conferences, seminars, scholars, advanced sound systems and cordless mikes it is so easy to forget what is preached.
The Prophet warned that in the last days there would come a famine, not for preaching, but for hearing the Word of the Lord. The Lord warned Ezekiel that”.
“Also, thou son of man, the children of thy people still are talking against thee by the walls and in the doors of the houses and speak one to another, everyone to his brother saying, Come, I pray you, and hear what is the word that cometh forth from the Lord…and, lo, thou are unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they, do them not.” Ezekiel 33:30,32.
When we communicate from one person to another, 30% of the information is lost in the transmission. The average person only retains about 50% of what is communicated to them. This 50% is only of the 70% they received. In other words, the average person only walks away with 35% of what has been communicated to them. In a large number of instances, say when there are interferences such as poor sound or distractions, these statistics worsen. No wonder “they hear thy words, but they do them, not”!
This does not diminish the teaching of Isaiah 55:11 that says, “so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void but it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” Often there is an immediate reaction to the word that is preached and the spirit that accompanies it. However, startling little is retained in our conscious thinking!
Actually, there are several reasons for this dilemma. To begin with, the Devil has always sought to make people forget God’s Word. Beginning in the Garden of Eden with Eve, he has continued to say, “has God said…?” Furthermore, the high-tech society that we live in bombards the senses and creates callous hearing that requires bright lights, vivid colors, synthesized sound and psychology to get a point across. To retain a message from God, one must intentionally listen. Remember Elijah in the cave II Kings 19)? He didn’t find God in a wind, an earthquake, or a fire. It was a still, small voice that came to him.
There are several things that will help you to retain preaching, and hear the still small voice.
1. Write notes.
2. As the preacher preaches, visualize what he is saying in your mind.
3. Give active feedback. Our “amens” are more than tradition, they help us focus our attention span on what is being said. Help the speaker know that he is being received.
4. Talk about message content, after the message is completed, with your family, or friends (in a positive way of course).
5. Pray in the altar with the message in mind. I don’t want anymore conferences or camps where the right message is preached to the right people and I forget it before I get into the car. I want to continue in the Word (John 8:31) so it will be a “light unto my path and lamp unto my feet.” (Psalms 119).
BROKE, SICK OR DEAD
Broke, Sick or Dead. If you are a minister in this country that’s what you can expect by age 62.
What is it like to work as a minister in the United States today? Here is a sobering statistic: the average life span of a minister in this country is 57 years. That was learned recently by Michael Chitwood from an extensive sampling of ministers across the country. Chitwood says one reason for this tragic truth is the excessive stress ministers endure during their lifetimes.
Here is another statistic: 97 percent of ministers who retire at age 62 do so with virtually no savings. They are broke, and the prospect of that hangs over them every working day until retirement, creating considerable mental stress.
Think of it! Dead years before their time. Broke after a lifetime of dedicated service to God.
Chitwood, a nationally known financial consultant to churches and ministries, believes it is time that churches and ministries establish retirement funds for pastors and other devoted men of God.
In a recent interview, Chitwood deplored the dire financial straits that ministers find themselves in at retirement. He expressed concern about the stress caused by retirement worries and the “awesome burden” of shepherding souls to a life of Christ at a time when churches are under attack from the government and other social forces.
“It burns me up that people who devote their lives to spreading the word of God and helping people find and maintain a relationship to God end up sick, dead or broke when all is said and done,” said Chitwood.
“God helps those who help themselves. I believe we can expect His assistance if we work to protect men of God with decent retirement programs.”
Chitwood characterized himself as “pro-God, pro-church and pro-clergy,” and this new project is further evidence of his commitment to improve the working conditions of ministers, even though some people might find such a huge task overwhelming.
Why would he take on such an ambitious project?
“Because it is right,” he answered simply. “It can’t be done in a day, I know that. But we can do a little bit today, and a little bit more tomorrow. That’s the only way any of us are going to make a difference. Do we owe this country’s ministers any less? They spend their whole lives working to make a difference.”
Ministers and the entire church community lived under the gun for at least a decade from government interference in church affairs and the aggressive opposition of secular groups that wish to make the operation of organized religion as difficult as possible. Recent scandals in the evangelical community have made religion an easy target for people in the media, in academic circles and in government who seek to build their careers and empires on the backs of scapegoats.
Churches are a popular current scapegoat. When reporters stand at your door, and IRS agents nose through your financial records and organizations slander your work and suggest that churches routinely engage in deception and fraud and that their hands should be tied, you probably feel like someone is backing you up to the edge of a cliff. One more step back, and you or your church might go plummeting to destruction.
If you have ever felt that way, you are under major stress. Stress kills. Heart attacks, destructive living habits, sleeplessness, nervous disorders and other potentially fatal conditions are often traced to the kind of stress that pastors experience every day of their lives. Economic insecurity and a hostile social environment can be a deadly combination. We can’t do anything about the latter, but we can cushion the effects of the former.
Ministers need our support. When they live longer, more productive lives, we all benefit. Solid retirement programs for ministers are an investment that pays off economically and spiritually.
Chitwood, as he has done before, issues a challenge to the American church community. He asks: Is a retirement plan too much to ask for men who devote their lives to the service of the Lord?
YOUR PASTOR: GOD’S GIFT TO YOU
By Donald F. Berry
We should be thankful for our pastors. Many Pentecostal people today are living in towns without a church or a pastor. They would support a pastor and stand behind a church if they were privileged to do so. Most of these people will eventually fall away. They become lost sheep without a shepherd. Paul said in Ephesians 4:11-12,”…he gave some, …pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints…” We can never reach perfection without a God-called leader. Without a preacher how would this Gospel ever be delivered?
There are many saints in churches that cannot stay saved even for a week. They need a pastor daily watching for their souls, teaching them how to live for God. It is sad to hear people say, “I do not need a pastor.” If people do not have a shepherd that stays attentive, everyone soon feels the effects.
I believe in God-called pastors and teachers. The Lord himself ordains them. The shepherd of a flock has the highest calling under heaven. He must answer directly to the Chief Shepherd. Very few people realize it is God Almighty who calls men out and sets them over His church. The call into the ministry is not by other men’s election, or not come by a personal decision. It does not come by purchasing a license from an organization. The call into the ministry is from God alone. He grants to these men the credentials of heaven to use on earth. It is God’s method reconciling the world unto Himself. Preachers should never stoop from
their office to be a king or even the president of the United States. The pastor is free to preach whatever God gives to him. The church needs a message fresh from the mind of God Almighty.
Has your pastor been a blessing to your life? Have you learned from his teaching? Have you grown spiritually by his preaching? What does your pastor actually mean to you?
There was an uprising in the Old Testament against God’s leadership. There were those who thought Moses was too old and was taking too much authority upon himself. God showed them at those He called and ordained as leaders were men that should not be touched. Judgment fell on many souls that spoke against the authority and leadership of Moses. The same law still exists today.
I have always tried to find the will of God when pastoring churches. I am grateful that in the past the people loved me, supported me and hated to see me go. People I had pastored years before wanted me to come be their pastor again. What did I do to make them love me? My people knew my love and concern to lead them and their little ones as God led me.
We owe our generation the truth even if it hurts. We have the greatest responsibility on earth. God has called us to preach, pastor, teach, lead and prophesy. God calls men to do a job. He wants them to put on their helmet and breastplate, grip their fingers around the sword, carry their shield, slip on their gospel shoes, and be a soldier for Jesus Christ.
No person under the heavens has a load to carry or a burden to bear like the one who wears the soldier’s shoes. May we all say to our pastor, “Let us have the message God gives you even if it stings us. Do not hold anything back that God wants us to have. We want to be saved.”
Paul said in Hebrews 13:17, “Obey them that have rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” Could you say that your shepherd has enjoyed having you for a sheep the last few years? Have you done anything to cause him or the church trouble and grief? Has he stayed wake at night because of your actions?
It was two faithful men who held up the hands of Moses when the battle was raging. The battle is still raging against the church. The gates of hell are pounding hard against the divine cause of God. What if you became one of those men in your church during this crucial hour?
Someday there will be a day of appreciation for the ministry. I can almost hear God’s people saying in heaven. “I could not have made it without you, Pastor. Thank you for preaching the truth. Thank you for that sermon you preached the night I got the Holy Ghost.” Then I see the entire host of saints turn to Jesus and say, “Thank you, God, for your precious gift to us, our pastors.”
Submitted by an old Gospel preacher that wants to hear a voice someday say, “welcome home.”
By Sis. Bea Delgadillo
Called of God, tried and proved
A heart of pure gold, so easily moved
With compassion so rare, and love so grand
Always there when we fall, to help us to stand
Oh how he loves his precious sheep
Entrusted to him their souls to keep
Watching and praying in the hours of the night
Making intercession for our spiritual fight
The warfare rages all around
The enemy lurks, his evils abound
But the shepherds is near with his staff and his sword
To call upon the power of the Lord
Oh how his eye is ever so watchful
To keep his sheep from the hands of evil
Ever enduring, and hoping and loving
His heart so burdened, yet always so giving
His soul bears the scars from the battles he’s fought
For the lambs who have strayed, whom his spirit sought
For the broken, the lost, the ones who were blind
For those whose savior, they could not find
Oh the shepherd’s heart has been wounded and grieved
His faith has been tested, yet he’s believed
Through the tempter his spirit has beaten and battered
God gave him a love that cannot be shattered
The sheep must be faithful to win their crown
To stay near their leader on solid ground
For he will protect them and give them his best
In his counsel is strength, the word will attest
Give him longsuffering to continue the war
Against unholiness and sin and things that destroy
Without him to guide them, the flock would be torn
They’d be ravaged, assaulted and left to the storm
Dear God, fill him with joy and bless him with wisdom
Guide him each day and increase his vision
Stay by his side by night and by day
Maintain him with righteousness in your holy way
And, Lord, the sheep need and love him to help them be saved
He’s preached your word, and your banner he’s waved
Remember his labors, his toil and his strife
And thank you, Lord, for writing his name in the blessed book of life
Thank you, Jesus, for a caring shepherd!
(The above material was published by the GOSPEL TIDINGS, July 1993)
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