Gospel Preaching 33

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.

He should also open his mouth vigorously and confidently, to preach the truth that has been entrusted to him. He should not be silent or mumble but should testify without being frightened or bashful. He should speak out candidly without regarding or sparing anyone, let it strike whomever and whatever it will. It is a great hindrance to a preacher if he looks around and worries about what people like or do not like to hear, or what might make him unpopular or bring harm or danger upon him. (Martin Luther)

Gospel preaching requires and earnestness, most certainly, but it also requires that one speak without controlling concern of what other people will think if the message hits them hard. Due to our hearts which are not perfect, the preacher will have that concern or worry at times if not most of the time, but that concern is not to control him. It is the love of Christ that is to constrain him. It is the love of Christ and the true good of souls which is to drive the preaching of a Gospel preacher. The preacher is supposed to be a man that God has set apart and is to preach the truth as one that has been set apart for God and His glory rather than always being concerned about how sinful men will view what he says.

Paul teaches us in 2 Timothy 4:2 to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” What appears to be in vogue today is that men preach the word and are then reproved and rebuked for preaching the word, so men become nervous and so preach what is acceptable to men so that they will be praised rather than rebuked. Gospel preaching, however, cannot be controlled by men. The one preaching must never cater to himself or to anyone else, but instead the preaching is to be the truth of God and as such preached as truth with love for God first and foremost.

It is possible for men to preach and to lower the voice or slur through the hard things, but this must not be done and cannot be done in Gospel preaching. The Gospel is all about the glory of God and His Messiah and there is nothing to be quiet about and nothing we should not be bold in declaring. The Gospel is all about the wonder and majesty of what God has done in glorifying His name in saving sinners and there is no room for men to be frightened or bashful about those things. Instead, they are to proclaim those things to men and those things are to be trumpeted forth as the most wonderful things in the universe rather than tripped over out of the fear of men.

It is nothing but self-love and pride that moves men to keep their eyes on what men like and don’t like rather than keeping their eyes on God and what honors Him and His truth. Every man that stands in the pulpit is either preaching to please himself or God. If he is preaching to please himself, then he can be moved to preach to please others, though indeed that is nothing but preaching for the purposes of self rather than for the truth and glory of God. The man who is a true Gospel preacher will preach out of the love and fear of God as his primary motive knowing that what is truly out of the love and fear of God will also be what is truly best for men. When men try to preach what men want to hear, whether it is orthodoxy or a watering down of the truth, they are not preaching what men need to hear and as such are not preaching what is good for men.

Gospel preachers are sinful men too, but Gospel preachers are not controlled by what will make them popular or unpopular. It appears that the vast majority of modern preachers are controlled by what they think will make them popular and avoid being unpopular. It is better for the name of Gospel preachers to be smeared and spoken evil of than for them to back off of preaching the truth of God and His Gospel. When men choose the truth and being unpopular because of love for God and His truth, they are in the line of the prophets of old. Gospel preaching must be done regardless of whether it will make men popular or unpopular, though indeed some with a martyr’s complex (so to speak) may desire to be unpopular for the sake of their own self-righteousness. Gospel preachers appear to have a rod of iron up their spine, but that is just appearances. The real thing about them is that they love the glory of God, His shining forth in Christ, the power of His Spirit, and the triune Gospel. They are firm on that.

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