"And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all." Acts 4:33
Recently I was listening to Alistair Begg speak on the radio about "apostolic preaching." He states the, "priority of preaching has been sadly diminished, the apostolic mandate remains."
It dawned on me, apostolic preaching, may be one of the greatest losses the church can ever experience, when it morphs from a movement of God, into a man-made machine. In the early church, preaching was marked by power. Today it is often a pale substitute, putting the emphasis on a position of authority, without delivering powerful preaching.
Begg's words reminded me that this kind of preaching is not an academic lecture breaking down the nuances of biblical doctrine or a power point presentation providing practical principles, offered in the form of suggestions. Preaching is not offered as information or ideas, designed to make a person's life better. It is not a quiet devotional, accompanied by pleasant background music, in a sedate, retreat setting. It packs a powerful punch, and sounds a clear trumpet, to people in the pews or in the public square.
I recently heard another preacher wander through a significant text in the Bible. He was pleasant, sincere, prepared, earnest, and quit on time. It couldn't have come too soon. I can't tell you a thing he said. He had a sermon, but no message. He spent his allotted time, spinning unconnected ideas, and searching for a conclusion, but in the end called for no decision. I decided to go home and pray for him. It was either that or drive my car into a tree.
Filling the air, with a great deal of dust, from repetitive remarks that no one can disagree with, is not preaching. Words offered up as preaching, should never cloud the image of The Risen Christ. They should shine a spotlight on Him, not on eloquence, academics, or comedy.
Even sermons spoken, without error, do not add up to a message delivered. If a man stands in the pulpit and says what is so, it should not leave the people, in the congregation, or in the community, wondering, "So what?"
Preaching in the early church was described this way. "And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of of the Lord Jesus..." (Acts 4:33a) Their preaching was a verbal explosion of dynamite, able to move mountains of stone, and release an avalanche of repentance, in the hearts of people who heard it.
In the early church, Spirit-filled preaching focused on The Risen Christ. The message included the whole story of Jesus. It didn't camp out around the manger, or stop at the cross. It put His birth, death, burial, and resurrection in perspective, and lifted people's eyes to Heaven, in expectation of His return. From the first word. to the last sentence, preaching is always about Jesus.
The preachers knew, Jesus may be rejected, but He could not be ignored. His coming to earth was picture of God's love, in human form, and His Resurrection was the watershed of human history. The latter was not a prelude to an Easter Egg Hunt, nor was the former wasn't an excuse for a bail of hay and a bathrobe pageant.
The preaching of The Word of God must be delivered, by a man on fire, with a message from God. This kind of an anointing of The Spirit is an unction, not a function. When it becomes a function, without unction, a preacher becomes a robotic serminator, not a faithful navigator.
When a preacher is under the unction of God, he becomes a navigator, by pointing people to Jesus, and calling for them to get their lives back on course, before they reach a point of no return. How does this kind of powerful preaching get released through a preacher? I'm glad you asked.
"And when they had prayed...they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness." Acts 4: 31
Prayer prepares the preacher, to proclaim the truth of The Word of God, with power, and call for a decision. Prayer prepares the listener to give attention to the truth of the Word of God, and apply it with precision. Prayerless preaching provides no power. Prayerless listening receives no correction. This Sunday, on your way to church, pray for your preacher. He needs it, and you need the practice.
TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!