Gospel Preaching 27

I Corinthians 2:2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.
3 I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, 4 and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.

A Christian, whether he is preacher or hearer, must be sure that he is speaking and hearing, not his own word, but God’s Word; otherwise it would be better if he had never been born, and preacher and hearer together must go to the devil. (Martin Luther)

Matthew 7:28 When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; 29 for He
was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.

When Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount, the crowds were amazed at His teaching because He taught as one who had authority. The scribes would walk around and quote the differing opinions of those who had been before them, but Jesus spoke on His own authority. He did not quote the scribes and He did not quote any authority. He spoke with power and He spoke using the Old Testament Scriptures as well.

In sermon after sermon and book after book we find the scholars and ministers of today doing what the scribes did in days past. The scribes had their authority by quoting many famous and brilliant scribes and today people have their authority by quoting the scholars. Pastors and scholars have no power today because they are not seeking the face of the Lord and they are not seeking Him to teach them. They have no confidence in their own views of Scripture and so they resort waffling about the character of God and the Gospel. As long as men continue to study, preach, and write like that they will have no power and there will be no “thus says the Lord” to the people.

Without knowing for sure the “inspiration” for Luther’s statement above, it could easily be Matthew 7:28-29 since what Luther wrote is certainly an echo of the works of Christ. There is no power in the pulpit in these days and men are giving learned lectures and educated talks, but they don’t appear to have spent time praying and seeking the Lord enough to be able to speak with authority and confidence that they are speaking the words of God. This is vital for there to be Gospel preaching. It is not enough for men to give their own opinion or the opinions of other pastors or scholars, they must be taught of the Lord Himself and then stand in the pulpit as if speaking for God because they are.

The man standing in the pulpit and proclaiming Christ must not just be saying what he has learned from the scholars, but instead he must be proclaiming the Christ who has revealed Himself to that man. It is not enough to dance around issues and speak with the firmness of a jelly fish, but a man must speak as if speaking from the Lord. The Gospel has to do with the eternal destinies of eternal souls and it has to do with the glory of God. If a man cannot preach this Gospel with some degree of conviction and declare it with authority, then he needs to get out of the pulpit and stop preaching. While the Bible speaks of a doubting Thomas, there is no place for a minister who has doubts great enough to hinder him from preaching the Gospel with authority. When one proclaims the Gospel from Scripture, what that man says is based on the authority of Scripture which is on the authority of God. It should also be said that the devil attacks people with fiery darts and tries to raise doubts in the minds of the people of God, so this is not to say that men are to be perfect in conviction each time they stand to preach. But even in their doubts they must use those doubts and fiery darts to drive them to the Savior who alone can give them strength to stand and declare the Gospel of grace alone to needy sinners.

We can imagine a doubting general giving orders to his troops. We can imagine a doubting businessman trying to gain finances for a financial venture. The general and the businessman in these illustrations may indeed be speaking of important things, but not even close to as important as the Gospel. A doubting general would most likely try to work himself up and come up with a confidence even if it was forced. A doubting businessman would probably just be turned down quickly. The point is that preachers must preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the authority of Jesus Christ. They must tell sinners on the basis of what God says that they will perish if they do not repent. They must tell sinners that if they have Christ they will never perish and they should say those things from the depths of their hearts. Gospel preaching requires men to spend time with the Lord and speak that way. Preaching that beats around the bush or is an easy on the ear preaching is preaching that will convince no one of anything about the Gospel. In other words, it has no authority and has no sanction from the Savior. We cannot preach the Gospel without the authority and sanction of Christ. We cannot preach the Gospel without hearts that have been humbled, broken, and then filled with Christ.

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