Roger Carswell is a travelling evangelist and author. He leads evangelistic church and university missions as well as speaking at Christian conferences. He has written seventeen books including ‘And some evangelists’ and ‘Where is God in a messed up world?’, and publishes numerous gospel tracts and booklets. He is married to Dot, has four children and lives in Leeds.
The Lord gave the word; great was the company of those who proclaimed it. (Psalm 68:11).
I remember hearing Baroness Margaret Thatcher speak for 75 minutes without notes, in Leeds Town Hall. It was an impressive performance. I delight in hearing good oratory. But it is not the same as preaching.
It is a thrill to hear the word of God preached by someone who has something to say, and has to say it. Peter expressed this saying, “If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God.”
“If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God.”
The preacher speaks for God. He comes with a message from God, not just a message about God. Preaching appeals to the mind, the heart and the will. There is unction, passion, feeling in the message because the preacher knows that men and women need to hear what is being said. The sermon, whether in the open air (and I wish that every preacher would do some open air work), or indoors, is the result of thorough prayer and careful preparation. Richard Baxter captured the sense of urgency in such preaching, “I preached as never sure to preach again, and as a dying man to dying men.”
The message of the preacher is not crafted to please the listeners, but comes from the heart of God. And fruitfulness does not necessarily characterise faithfulness. Noah preached for 120 years using words to proclaim, and wood and nails to portray the coming judgement. Preachers of the word of God will, like Noah, find loneliness, ridicule and hardship, but they will also ‘find grace in the eyes of the Lord.’ Christian preaching is to be Christ-centred. I read once that when preaching we are to ask two questions. First, ‘Would it have been necessary for God to have given us the Bible for that sermon?’ and secondly, ‘Would it have been necessary for Jesus Christ to have died in order for this to be true?’
Amos used imagery, irony and even sarcasm to boldly preach against the luxurious, idolatrous living of his fellow citizens. Isaiah preached Christ-centric messages to kings and commoners. And dear Ezekiel (I look forward to meeting him in heaven – mavericks make the ministry!) came from a priestly background but spent most of his life ministering to the Exiles in Babylon. His own life, as well as visual aids and symbolic acts, drove home his messages. Malachi gave 47 first-person messages from the Lord to the people of Israel.
The Lord Jesus came not only to preach the gospel, but that there might be a gospel to preach.
The Lord Jesus came not only to preach the gospel, but that there might be a gospel to preach. We find him anywhere and everywhere proclaiming to crowds, small groups and individuals. He deliberately chose to concentrate His work in villages and small towns. In contrast, Paul focused on the cities. The word was in him as a fire, so he sighed ‘Woe is me if I preach not the gospel.
Read part two of this blog post: The 4 Fs a preacher need to be.