“Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.”
2 Timothy 4:2 (NKJV)
When I first was given the opportunity to stand in front of folks and actually share a Gospel message the thing I did immediately (after my moment of panic) was hit the books. I was introduced to commentaries during my 120 day stay at Americas Keswick’s Colony of Mercy so they were the very thing I looked into. I got extremely blessed to receive Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible while I was there so it became my go to (still is to this day). My entire message was based on two things…Scripture and how my boy Matt interpreted it.
It never crossed my mind to actually share how I saw God’s Word manifested itself in my own life. I was too nervous to do that and thought it better to use the words of someone I considered a Pro and besides, Matthew Henry went home to be with the Lord centuries ago, whose gonna know? Matt wasn’t gonna be in the congregation that morning so I wasn’t gonna get accused of being a plagiarist by him. Something that had come up was that everyone who was listening to me that morning knew that I really don’t speak Shakespearian in my real life and as eloquent as I may have sounded, I think folks knew that the actual Gospel message was still translating the 18” journey from my head to my heart.
A Pastor friend of mine made this statement to me not too long after that. “The first time you quote someone you give them credit, the second time you can get away with “I’ve heard it said”, but the third time be prepared to own it.” I wasn’t too sure how to receive that but now that time has passed, I have figured it out somewhat. I might have been confident that Matthew Henry knew exactly what he was talking about, but was I confident that I knew what he was talking about (there’s a curve ball for ya). Did I actually agree with what was in those commentaries and more importantly was I taking his viewpoint and filtering it through God’s Word? Hmm…
Recently there’s been a stir about preachers who use pre-packaged sermons. Now I’ll admit, I come across those websites while doing my own research, however I did trip over something called Christian TED talks. The whole nine yards is included in this stuff and it looks like MTV found the Gospel but to me it looks all too “sanitized.” Like the blood of Christ has been removed and the entertainment factor is the message more than Christ Himself. How would the apostle Paul approach this? Well, I know what he told the church in Corinth.
“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” (1 Corinthians 1:17-19)
When I look at Paul as a preacher, he isn’t someone who I would say is “Mr. Personality”, on the contrary, he shot from the hip, made folks mad and got a whooping once in a while because of the Holy Spirit conviction that fell upon those who really enjoyed their sin-filled lives. His preaching of the Word of God was the Word of God and if that bugged people then their problem was one of a vertical nature. The same should hold true today but some folks would rather have their preachers start off with, “Let me entertain you, let me make you smile.” Sad, but true.
I’ve become pretty hung up with the term “Ordained Witness” and I believe that every Christian who understands Christ and Him crucified is one. We don’t always need to back up our message with the words of a C.S. Lewis or A.W. Tozer (even though I constantly quote him, because I’m fan of his preaching, pray for me. I feel so double-minded now). Don’t get me wrong here either, it is nice to have tools to assist you with any task, but if you can’t filter the tool through Scripture…don’t use that tool.
And yes, there will be moments where folks will say, “I’ve heard this before. Tell me something different” Maybe that’ll be a good spot to remind them, “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4) Let’em own that. Amen?
Written by Chris Hughes: Chris is a husband, a father, has an education in Biblical doctrine and is a graduate of The Colony of Mercy. He has been a Freedom Fighter contributor since 2008. You can email him at email@example.com