Now, as I said earlier, I wanted to split both of these sessions into two themes. First of all 'The Preaching', which we have dealt with, and now 'The Preacher'. So if you want a passage of Scripture to turn to, though we're not going to initially read it, it's Acts chapter 1 please, so that you have your Bibles open.
A number of years ago I read a book by a man - I'm sure you haven't heard of him, some of you may have done, Bert Caldwell has probably heard of him - G.H. Lang. G.H. Lang wrote many books and commentaries, but he has a little book called 'God at Work in His Own Lines'. It's a very old one, but he tells within it stories of how God really moved around places in England, Cornwall and so on, through very simple evangelists and evangelistic work. He tells a story in it of an illiterate draper in Cornwall called Mr Gribble. Mr Gribble would invite people into his home, neighbours and friends, and he would get them to sit down, and he would take a penny sermon, and he would attempt to read it. You can imagine how that went, but people were getting saved in droves. After a while his confidence grew, and he was able to say a few words of his own free will, and he started preaching - stammering it was, really - but hundreds of people were getting converted.
J.N. Darby, one of the early brethren, heard about this, and he wrote to another of the early brethren, S.T. Tragilles, and in the letter this is what he said: 'There are few men who can preach the gospel more fluently than you and I can, and we see few souls saved, and they tell me there is an illiterate brother called Gribble, and when he quotes scripture there are people swept into the kingdom'. G.H. Lang in his book says: 'Mr Darby's question is well worth pondering' - and it is.
One of the best books that I think a preacher, certainly of the Gospel, could read is by E.M. Bounds, 'Power Through Prayer [PDF]'. It's not a book about preaching, it's a book about prayer - but in it he says it takes 20 years to make a sermon, because it takes 20 years to make the man. Preaching is not the delivery of a sermon, preaching is the delivery of the preacher. We have conceded, I hope, that the Holy Spirit flows through the instrumentality of human personality - it is vital, therefore, that the preacher is the right kind of channel for God to move through. Now I know some might feel that this is putting too much emphasis on man, but really it's not - the Scriptural testimony shows us that. Now, I would go as far as to say that 'success' in evangelistic preaching has got as much to do with the preacher as the preaching. In fact, I would go further to say that sometimes it's got more to do with the preacher than the preaching. What I mean by that is: if the man is right, in all likelihood his message will be right - but if you have a correct message and you're not right, it'll do no good for anyone.
Now please don't misunderstand what I'm saying, I'm not saying that what you preach is unimportant, or how you preach is unimportant - but what is all-important is the condition of the one who preaches. Now, I'm going to give you five qualities, for want of a better phrase, that an evangelistic preacher ought to have. One: the power of the Holy Spirit. We are in Acts chapter 1 and verse 8, Jesus is just about to ascend to heaven, and He says in verse 8: 'But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth'. We know of course that the disciples were instructed not to go and do anything - now imagine that, they have received 3 and a half years training from the Lord Jesus Christ as His apprentices, His disciples, they have witnessed His death, resurrection, and the Lord tells them not to do anything - because they haven't this gift of the Holy Spirit, in the sense of which He would come at Pentecost and endue them with power from on high to preach and to witness. Now that's important, and I know certain people that may have theological differences with you may take different slants on this, and so on and so forth - but we must face the fact that Pentecost was God's plan for evangelising the world and setting it aflame. It's exemplified in the Acts of the Apostles, which might be better entitled 'The Acts of the Holy Spirit', for the Holy Spirit takes these men of clay, and He builds a church just like Zerubbabel's Temple, that will be built not by might nor by power, but by the Holy Spirit.
Now, I want you to turn with me to 1 Corinthians chapter 2, because here we see that this Holy Spirit unction was characteristic of the preaching of the apostle Paul. Now I've mentioned this passage in our previous session, but it's worth reading just now. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2:1: 'And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God'. Now I believe Paul was a great orator, maybe not as great as Apollos, but I believe he could argue well as the Jewish lawyer that he was - but he did not rely on those natural abilities. Some of his enemies, the false apostles, in 2 Corinthians, he quotes them as saying that Paul's bodily presence was weak and his speech contemptible. Whether it was or not is a matter for debate, but that's the way they portrayed him to be. But it was this excellency of the power that was of God and not of men that distinguished Paul and his preaching.
That's vital, I believe Paul could have allowed the flesh to rise in his preaching and been very impressive, but he didn't. He wanted the Holy Spirit to be what was demonstrated and manifest in his meetings. Now, I've had a tragic experience - and, believe you me, it has been cutting to pride and everything else that's fleshly about me - when, after meetings, unconverted people say: 'That was very, very interesting. That wee thought that you had there was good and all'. Then on one occasion one man said to me: 'I agree with everything you said there tonight, I couldn't find fault with any of it - but it was only words, it wasn't getting through' - an unsaved man told me that on the Shankill Road, and I grieved over that for at least a week. You see, Paul could say to the Thessalonians in 1 Thessalonians 1 and verse 5: 'Our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake'. There was power in the apostolic preaching - as someone has quipped well: 'On the day of Pentecost there was one sermon preached and 3000 souls saved, we're preaching 3000 sermons and don't see one soul saved'. E.M. Bounds captured it well when he said: 'No erudition, no purity of diction, no wealth of mental outlook, no flowers of elegance, no grace of person can atone for lack of fire'.
Now, if the Apostles had to wait in Jerusalem and tarry there until they were endued with power from on high, how much more do we need that power? We need it! Peter talked about the apostolic preaching thus: they preached the Gospel with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven. Now, the great question is: is that how we preach, with the power of the Holy Spirit? If we're going to do that, we need to have that power individually. Many well-known and mightily used servants of God testified to being filled or anointed with the Spirit in a dramatic way. I don't know whether you've read the biography of D.L. Moody, but I'll just read his account of this experience. He was already in ministry, and it says that: 'The blessing came upon me suddenly like a flash of lightning. For months I had been hungering and thirsting for power in service, I had come to that point where I think I would have died if I had not got it. I remember I was walking the streets of New York, and I had no more heart in the business I was about than if I had not been in this world at all. Well, one day, O what a day, I cannot describe it, I seldom refer to it, it is almost too sacred an experience to name. Right there in the streets the power of God seemed to come upon me so wonderfully that I had to ask God to stay His hand. I was filled with a sense of God's goodness, and I felt as though I could take the whole world to my heart. I took the old sermons I had preached before without any power, and it was the same old truth, but there was new power. Many were impressed and converted, and this happened years after I was converted myself. I would not now be placed back where I was before that blessed experience if you should give me all the world. It would be as small dust in the balance'. D.L. Moody's experience.
Others had similar experiences, however there were men used of God equally who had no great manifestation when they were filled with the Holy Spirit and power. Some simply describe in biographies of being overwhelmed with a sense of God, being totally surrendered to God and experiencing His control. Others described this experience as being bursting with joy, David Brainerd said: 'My soul was so captivated and delighted with the excellency, loveliness, greatness, and other perfections of God that I was even swallowed up in Him'. He got to that place where he had completely surrendered, and it was all for God, no reserves and no retreat, no regrets. R.A. Torrey, Moody's helper and predecessor, he didn't have an experience like Moody, but he said he just asked God for the unction of the Holy Spirit in his ministry, and he believed by faith that it was God's will for him to have it, and he believed God fulfilled it. No great bright shining lights, or sensual experience. Spurgeon is the same, Billy Sunday was the same - they testified of the power, and who could argue with that, and yet they had different experiences - because the Holy Spirit, like God as He is, is infinite in His variety. He deals with us as individuals and according to our personalities at times.
Now, we all must be very careful, if you're into reading spiritual biographies, that we don't read about a man, or a woman for that matter, and start to gain our biblical understanding from their personal experiences, because God deals with men in great variety. We must beware of hankering after experiences that other men have had - our goal, as the hymn says, ought to be God Himself. We need to be seeking after God, but if we are seeking after God we will be seeking after the fullness and all the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and if we're involved in evangelism and evangelistic preaching we need the power of the Spirit to do that work - there is no substitute! I have a great fear that many are doing this work in the flesh. I know there is a great debate around the Holy Spirit and His Person, and His ministry, and His gifts, and His fruit and all the rest of it - but cutting to the chase, we can really lose the heart of the matter by getting bogged down with all the terminology. Billy Graham put it this way: 'I don't care what you call it, just get it!'. There is an element of truth in that: this unction of the Holy Spirit that you need to minister for God.
D.L. Moody was being considered for an evangelistic campaign in England, and one of the organisers sarcastically said: 'Well, what's so big about D.L. Moody, does he have a monopoly of the Holy Spirit?'. The answer came back: 'He doesn't have a monopoly of the Holy Spirit, but the Holy Spirit has a monopoly of D.L. Moody'. Now, you mightn't hear this a lot, I don't know, but if you're involved in evangelistic ministry and Gospel preaching, you need to pray for the Holy Spirit without measure. I believe that you get the Holy Spirit when your born-again, don't worry about that - but there is a fullness of the Holy Spirit, and there is a complete controlling by the Holy Spirit that you need to operate effectively in this ministry. The Lord Jesus said in Luke chapter 11 and verse 13: 'If you, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him!'. I believe you need to ask for enduing, fresh oil from above for this ministry. It might come initially to you in some kind of crisis experience, it may not, but you need to take God's word as His word and claim it by faith, and ask God to assure you that you have the power of the Holy Spirit as you minister.
The preacher needs, one, the power of the Holy Spirit. Secondly, the preacher needs humility and brokenness. Now this is twofold, at least as far as I'm concerned in this delivery. First of all we need humility and brokenness over ourselves. Now, what I mean by that is - and, by the way, let me reiterate what I said at the beginning, I am learning in this whole regard, and I need this, I need this. I would love you to pray for me that I'll get this. I need to see my sin and my self the way God sees. I need to see my own abilities as they really are, inabilities. I need to get broken over my self, and I'm not broken the way I ought to be - because this is a method of God's usage, this is a principle. This here gets broken and they dump it and buy a new one, but God, when He finds broken things, takes them up and uses them. He uses broken things, we throw them away. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble - to put it another way, God resists the proud but He can't resist the humble (you know He can resist them, but you know what I'm saying). He condescends to help those who are broken.
Now, we need to cultivate this in our lives. I remember years ago as a young lad, it probably was in Bible College, reading R.A. Torrey's book: 'Why God Used D.L. Moody'. It's a really simple wee book, you probably couldn't get it today - my copy is falling apart. But one of the chapters in the book 'Why God Used D.L. Moody' is called 'Humility', and in it R.A. Torrey says of Moody that, 'He was the humblest man I ever knew in my life'. Now that says something. He also records that he had a lot of apprentices himself that he was training in evangelistic ministry, and they would be on the platform with him at these crusades, and he was always pushing them forward - always. People had come to hear Moody, but he was pushing Torrey and other ones forward. Great humility.
God will use any man or woman who will not touch the glory, but will ascribe all honour to Him. I remember hearing the story of a young preacher, and he came in with a big Bible under his arm and a three-piece suit, and when it was time to go up to preach he mounted the stairs of the sacred desk. He stood and opened his message, and he wasn't 5 minutes into it until everything fell apart, and his knees were knocking and it was a disaster. He went down sheepishly with his head down, and there was an old brother in the meeting who said: 'If he went up the way he came down, he would have went down the way he went up'. Do you follow that? If he went up the way he came down, he would have went down the way he went up - humility before God, a brokenness, a reality concerning our own abilities and inabilities. In 2 Corinthians 4 and verse 7, Paul says: 'We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us'. What God is looking for in these clay jars of ours, that He has hopefully filled with the Holy Spirit, is that through the cracks of our brokenness His glory shines forth. Now that's got to be cultivated, and do you know where it is cultivated? It's not very palatable: it's cultivated in the school of hard knocks, it's cultivated in a crucifixion and a discipline that God often brings into our life that we often resist - but we ought to, in one sense, embrace, because it is God's method of breaking us so that the excellence of the glory would not be from us, but from God, the treasure within. Do you understand?
Now, I'm not liking this point, but if you want God to use you, brokenness is a part of it. But it's not only humility and brokenness over ourselves, it's humility and brokenness over the lost. Now, if Jesus wept over Jerusalem, 'Oh, Jerusalem, Jerusalem!', surely we ought to weep over our Jerusalem, wherever that is? Four times Paul is spoken of as weeping. One time in Acts chapter 20 he describes himself as serving with all humility and many tears. Winners of souls must first be weepers for souls. I need God's help where this is concerned. We need brokenness. Two Salvation Army officers were out doing a new work that they had been sent by the Corps to do, and it was a disaster - failure and opposition on every hand. They were frustrated and tired, and ready to throw the towel in. They appealed to General Booth to just close the mission up, and he sent back a telegram with two words: 'Try tears' - and they did. There was a revival, a mini one. Now I describe tears as God's glue for the Gospel. Tears are like the oil that lubricates the wheel of world evangelism. Herbert Lockyer said: 'Tears win victories, a cold, unfeeling, dry eyed religion has no influence over the souls of men'. Now please do not think that I'm putting too much importance on the human instrument here, because varied theological examples of people who have been used by God from all sorts of backgrounds and camps all testify to this brokenness. Murray M'Cheyne - I'm sure many of you have heard the story about the tourists who came to see his church in Dundee, and they asked the old sexton, after M'Cheyne's decease, what the secret of his ministry was. They were taken into the vestry and told to sit down over the big pulpit Bible, and put one elbow at either side of the Bible, and put their head in their hands and weep for souls. He says: 'That's the secret to my master's ministry'. He then took them up into the pulpit, and he got them to lean and hang over the pulpit imploring the people, and he said: 'Now let the tears drop to the floor of the church' - that was the secret to M'Cheyne's ministry.
It's the way M'Cheyne preached, it's the way Whitefield preached, George Whitefield, one of the greatest evangelists that Britain has ever known. One who knew him well said he hardly knew him to go through a sermon without weeping. His voice often was interrupted with tears, sometimes so excessive to actually stop him in his tracks. He was heard to say on one occasion: 'You blame me for weeping, but how can I help it when you will not weep for yourselves, though your immortal souls are on the verge of destruction; and for aught you know you're hearing your last sermon, and may never more have an opportunity to have Christ offered to you'. Oh, we know the psalm, 'Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him' - but what about the experience? I don't know it the way I ought to know it, and that is a weakness that must be broken, it must be dealt with.
John Henry Jowett was a mighty preacher, if you've never read any of his stuff - some of the best books to read on preaching the Gospel and soul winning are Spurgeon's 'The Soul Winner' [PDF] and J.H. Jowett's 'Passion For Souls' [PDF], mighty books! J.H. Jowett said this: 'We can never heal the needs we do not feel. Tearless hearts can never be heralds of the Passion. We must pity if we would redeem. We must bleed if we would be ministers of the saving blood. The disciple's prayer must be stricken with much crying and many tears. The ministers of Calvary must supplicate bloody sweat, and their intercession must touch the point of agony. True intercession is a sacrifice, a bleeding sacrifice'.
It would be very easy to spend the whole time on the preaching, wouldn't it? That's what often we have a tendency to do, when the preacher is as, if not more, important - because the preacher must be right for the preaching to be right. The preacher needs the power of the Holy Spirit. The preacher needs humility and brokenness over himself and over the lost. But thirdly, the preacher needs holiness - holiness - the word that has more or less fallen out of evangelicalism's dictionary, holiness. The old hymn put it like this:
'We cannot be channels of blessing,
If our lives are not free from all sin.
We will barriers be, and a hindrance
To those we are trying to win'.
As a surgeon's instruments require sterility, God requires purity in His preachers, holiness. Isaiah said: 'Be clean, you who bear the vessels of the Lord'. E.M. Bounds said: 'It is not great talents nor great learning nor great preachers that God needs, but men great in holiness, great in faith, great in love, great in fidelity, great men for God, men always preaching by holy sermons in the pulpit and by holy lives out of it'. What did we say at the beginning? Preaching is not the delivery of a sermon, it is the delivery of the man. It takes 20 years to make a sermon, because it takes 20 years to make a man. Here it is again: the lives we live are what we preach every day. We ought to measure what we preach with our lives, because our lives give weight to the words we speak. People aren't stupid, they see a mile off when we talk about things that we have no knowledge of. They can see the shallowness of our own experience. C.H. Spurgeon said: 'God will speak through a fool, if he be a holy man'. In fact, in his book 'The Soul Winner', Spurgeon recounts having once heard George Mueller - the great man of faith of Bristol - preaching. I'm just going to verbatim read it to you, he said: 'As he was preaching, it was just such an address as might be given to a Sunday School by an ordinary teacher, yet I never heard a sermon that did me more good, and more richly profited my soul'. Listen to what he says now: 'It was George Mueller in it that made it so useful. There was no George Mueller in it in one sense; for he preached not himself but Christ Jesus the Lord; he was only there in his personality as a witness to the truth, but he bore that witness in such a manner that you could not help saying, 'That man not only preaches what he believes, but also what he lives''. Spurgeon goes on: 'In every word he uttered, his glorious life of faith seemed to fall upon both ear and heart. I was delighted to sit and listen to him; yet, as for novelty or strength of thought, there was not a trace of it in the whole discourse. Holiness was the preacher's force; and you may depend upon it that, if God is to bless us, our strength must lie in the same direction'.
The preacher needs the Holy Spirit, the preacher need brokenness over himself and over the lost, but the preacher needs holiness. Whatever your theological view about sanctification and holiness is, I don't really care, but just be a holy man and your sermons will take flight. John Wesley said: 'Give me 100 preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen, such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven on earth'. Holy men. Now, it's always been hard to be holy, but it's harder today than it was 50 years ago - but we need to be holy. The light of our holiness, which of course is the holiness of God ultimately, will shine the brighter because of the darkness of our land and the degradation of the church. Where sin abounds, grace does much more abound. Holiness is indispensable.
One, the power of the Holy Spirit. Two, brokenness. Three, holiness. Four, prayerfulness. I recommended to you that book 'Power Through Prayer' by E.M. Bounds. In it he says: 'It is a great thing to talk to men about God, but a greater thing to talk to God about men'. You see, what prayer does is: it puts God into your preaching, it does. Because once you are communing with God, deep is calling unto deep, and you're interacting, there is this communion going on that God desires. God is putting into you His desires, and filling you with His Spirit, and so you are going out filled with the fullness of God. It comes over, prayer puts God into your preaching, it brings God onto the field. Spurgeon said: 'The greatest force of the sermon lies in what has gone before the sermon', that's where the power is!
Now, let me ask you to do a little exercise. Cast your mind back to the last time you preached. You had a passage of Scripture, and you were doing all you're meant to do with it, whatever that is, whatever they teach people now to do with it! You get it all together, and then you're looking for applications and illustrations and all the rest, and your outlines and all the rest - how much time, on average, do you take (and you don't have to shout out), but think of how much time you take on average with that preparation, and then compare that to your time of intercession for the preaching. Now here's one of the great weaknesses of the pastoral system: it can grind men to such an extent with a workload, that they are running out with a sermon in the back pocket, hot off the press, un-prayed over, they haven't assimilated it in their heart until it has become part of them, and they're delivering it out like a parrot three times a week. It's wrong. You compare the preparation time and study with prayer, and ask yourself: where does the shortfall lie? What we need is prayer-saturated preaching! Prayer before, prayer during, prayer after. Sometimes I exhort people now going to missions, all the praying is done before the mission, and nobody prays after. The seed has been sown, and maybe some of it on good ground, and we walk away! We need to then start praying: 'God, water the seed, water the seed, let the seed grow!' - after!
Power of the Holy Spirit - I'm nearly finished, this one's not as long as the first - humility and brokenness over ourselves and over the lost, holiness in our lives, prayerfulness in our preparation, and fifthly and finally: faith, faith. 'Without faith it is impossible to please God' - what a verse! 'That which is not of faith is sin'. Now, Jesus said: 'According to your faith, let it be to you' - OK? So apply that to your preaching: according to your faith, let it be to you. Well, where does faith lie regarding preaching? Well, first of all faith must lie in the fact that you have faith that you're called to preach - do you? I could show you, and I'm not going to, from the Acts of the Apostles, how the Holy Spirit ordained who to preach. You don't get a licence from a denomination, it's the Holy Spirit who ordains who to preach. He even directed, in Acts, where to preach and, incidentally, where not to preach. Now the danger is, and it's always been the case, that people get it into their head: 'I would like to preach'. They go to Bible College to learn to preach, and they come in not being able to preach and go out not being able to preach - that is not what a call to preach is. Even when I was - not in these illustrious halls, it was down Sandown Road in Belfast - Jim will testify to it, and I'm not saying anything in a callous or negative way, but there were boys who came in who couldn't preach who went out not being able to preach. Preaching is a gift from God, given by the Holy Spirit. It's not a learned discipline, but it does need to be honed - but you can only hone what you have.
Now, if you think you're being called to preach, what do you do? Well, test the spirits and try it out, there's plenty of people out there need to hear the Gospel - go out and preach in the open-air. There's plenty of places all over that need somebody to fill in a Sunday here and there, try it - but take advice, sensible advice, from godly people as to whether you have the gift or not. Equally so, if you're in leadership in a church, you need to tell people whether they've got that gift or not. Some of them are selling houses, leaving jobs, moving children from school, and going to train to be a pastor - and they're no more a pastor than they are a binman, and that's a fact! Nobody has the guts to tell them: 'You don't have it!'. So, be gentle, but be truthful - don't quote that one about the binman, whatever you do! You need to have faith that you're called to preach - and I'll tell you this: my sister-in-law, when I was being led of God to go into full-time ministry, she told me a very wise thing. She said: 'Make a journal, and take down all the account of God's leading and guidance and direction in your life at this particular time, because there will come a time when your call will be challenged, and when you will go through difficulties, and you'll wonder was God in it at all' - and I thank God I did that, and I still have it, and it's very cherished. That can hold you through anything, it's hard at times, but it can keep you there to know 'I'm here on God's behest' - but you've got to make sure you're called to preach.
Secondly, I'm talking about faith also in the message. You've got to have faith in the message. Now, generally speaking what I mean by that is: you've got to believe in preaching. There is unbelief in the method of preaching today - sometimes, it has to be said, because people have been put off by the dry and dead preaching that they've listened to for years, but that's not a reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater, that's a reason to rediscover Holy Ghost preaching. So we've got to believe in preaching, and we've also got to believe in what we've preached. I've touched on being passionate, and it comes down to whether it's real for us. That will be exhibited in zeal and earnestness as a preacher, when we're really moved - how do you expect others to be moved if you're not moved? If you are moved, sound like you're moved, look like you're moved!
Also faith in relation to expectation, my expectation of You, O God. If you believe the Gospel is the dynamite of God unto salvation, you need to expect it to explode the devil and his chains, and put him out, and liberate captives! We need to have faith, generally speaking, in the message, but also specifically we need to have faith in the message that we have for any given occasion. Now I'm not going to go into all this detail, we haven't time, but in Ephesians 6 it talks about the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Now the word for 'sword' there is not the Greek word for the broadsword, you know the big sort of 'Braveheart' type sword, but a wee smaller sword that there would have been several of in an armoury. Now that simply means, like the Lord Jesus' temptation, you remember three times He said, 'It is written. It is written. It is written', and He quoted three times from the book of Deuteronomy - which most of us would have a problem doing - but He used a different verse for a different battle, didn't He? That's the idea in Ephesians 6, that there are different swords for different occasions, and it's the sword of the Spirit - and I believe the Gospel preacher should wait on God for a specific message for a certain situation, seeking God for a message. I'll not go into all this, but I believe there is a prophetic element to not just Gospel preaching, but also exhortational preaching, where we're led of God in the secret place and brought to passages of Scripture where God - Corinthians talks about it - people talking in tongues, unbelievers come in and don't know what they're saying; but when prophecy was being preached, unbelievers come in, the secrets of men's hearts are revealed, they fall on their face and declare: 'Truly, God is among you!'.
There is a supernatural element here, and you need to have the faith and confidence that this is a message from God, and it might be for one person, and I'm going with it. I hope you agree with me that the preacher is as important, if not more important, than the preaching - for if the preacher is right, in all likelihood the preaching will be right. We need to be right.
Many years ago I was involved with Young Life, and Trevor Knight is here, I've been involved in it for many many years. I remember learning their hymn, that has never left me, it goes like this:
'With a soul blood-bought and a heart aglow,
Redeemed of the Lord and free,
I ask as I pass down the busy street,
Is it only a crowd I see?
Do I lift my eyes with a careless gaze,
That pierces no deep-down woe?
Have I naught to give to the teeming throng,
Of the wealth of the love I know?
As I read in the Gospel story oft,
Of the Christ who this earth once trod,
I fancy I see His look on the crowd,
That look of the Son of God.
He saw not a number in might or strength,
But a shepherd-less flock distressed,
And the sight of those wearied, fainting sheep
Brought grief to His loving breast.
Dear Lord, I ask for the eyes that see
Deep down to the world's sore need,
I ask for a love that holds not back,
But pours out itself indeed.
I want the passionate power of prayer
That yearns for the great crowd's soul,
I want to go 'mong the fainting sheep
And tell them my Lord makes whole'.
And this is the chorus:
'Let me look on the crowd as my Saviour did,
Till my eyes with tears grow dim,
Let me look till I pity the wandering sheep,
And love them for love of Him'.
The preacher! I finish with this story. An Evangelist tells of visiting Francis and Edith Schaeffer, I'm sure you've heard of him, in L'Abri in Switzerland. After dinner one night the conversation ranged over a number of profound theological issues, but suddenly someone asked Dr Schaeffer: 'What will happen to those who have never heard of Christ?'. Everyone around the dinner table waited for a great theological discourse, for this theologian to deliver a weighty intellectual answer - but none came. Instead, at that dinner table, he bowed his head and wept.
Let us pray. Abba Father, in the name of Your Holy Child, Jesus, the One who came for us, lived for us, wept for us, sweat great drops of blood for us, was crucified for us, bore hell for us, rose from the grave for us, ascended for us, sent the Spirit for us, and is coming for us; who came not to be served, but to serve, and give His life a ransom for many. Abba Father, let us learn of Him, who made Himself of no reputation. Oh God, help me - I preach these things as if I live them, and I don't - oh God, help us all to get to a place where You can use us in order to reach perishing, lost, damned, hopeless mums and dads, brothers and sisters, children, neighbours, work colleagues. Oh God, give us the spirit of the apostle when he could say: 'Oh, that I were accursed for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh'. Oh Lord, we are indoctrinated by the system that is this world. We are hypnotised by television and amusements and leisure, and these things are not real for us any more. Oh God, give us a passion for souls. This land of ours needs Christ, it needs revival, we need an awakening - but oh Lord may You, even in us now, start something that will turn this province of ours, this island, upside down. These precious men who have at least a desire to know how to preach the Gospel, oh God, that they might be endued with power from on high, that they might go forth from this place today different, determined to seek reality, not to conform to a ministerial regime of expectations from men, but to break out into the living power of God. Oh God we need some fresh breath of the Spirit to be upon us. We need You to turn the tide, for we are helpless. Lord, for those dear brothers here that will preach tomorrow, may we preach like never before, as a dying man to dying men, as if we stood between God and hell imploring men and women to be reconciled to God. Lord, make this real for us, change our lives that we might be used of the Spirit as instruments to change the lives of others. For Jesus Christ's sake alone, and for His glory we pray, Amen.
Don't miss part 1 of this message: “Preaching Evangelistically Part 1 - The Preaching”
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This sermon was delivered at a Seminar for Men in The Baptist Centre, Moira, N. Ireland, by David Legge. It was transcribed from the recording titled "Preaching Evangelistically Part 2 - The Preacher" - Transcribed by Preach The Word.
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