Does it matter who is speaking?
Who preached today? “Oh yes I like that preacher!” etc. When did we become so concerned about the preacher for the service? Aren’t we fantasizing preachers? Samuel Beckett, of whom Foucault quoted in his article “What is an author?” said “’What does it matter who is speaking,’ someone said, ‘what does it matter who is speaking.’” Does it matter the preacher?
“Living preachers are few.” says Ellen G. White in Colporteur Ministry, p. 84. Truly few if not rare and how blessed if you happen to have a living preacher in your church. The cost of living preachers today have cultivated the laity habit of checking the preaching roster before the next service. This means that the preacher of the service means a lot to their church life and spirituality. In this situation, many members have been doing “preaching shopping”. That means following preachers from church to church. Are we closer to the prophecy of Amos “a famine of hearing the words of the Lord” (Amos 8, 11-12)?
But what is wrong with preachers today?
Ellen G. Whites gives us a prophetic answer, “Today the ministers of Christ should have the same witness as that which the Corinthian church bore to Paul’s labors. But though in this age there are many preachers, there is a great scarcity of able, holy ministers–men filled with the love that dwelt in the heart of Christ. Pride, self-confidence, love of the world, faultfinding, bitterness, envy, are the fruit borne by many who profess the religion of Christ. Their lives, in sharp contrast to the life of the Savior, often bear sad testimony to the character of the ministerial labor under which they were converted” (Acts of the Apostles, p. 328).
Many preachers today exercise a kind of zeal and professionalism which is not born out of prayer and personal experience with Christ. In effect, we have few living preachers.
Theorizing or demonstration of the spirit?
Unto this ends, it in fact matters if the congregation hears God speaking! Preachers must refrain from mere forms, theorizing and theologizing sermons to demonstrate the Spirit’s power in the pulpit. Paul said I preached “not with eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power,” “but in demonstration of the Spirit and power,” that the faith of all who heard “might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:17; 2:4, 5.
We need apostolic sermons. We need sermons that revive the dead as Bill Bernnett captioned his homiletic book “Thirty Minutes to Raise the Dead”. Sermons must be filled with God’s breath carrying such a cutting force that “penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow…judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4, 12). Christ who called the members must be incarnated each time in the sermons. His tender and loving voice must be heard calling them each day.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon has something great to tell preachers of today. He says “The gospel is preached in the ears of all men; it only comes with power to some. The power that is in the gospel does not lie in the eloquence of the preacher otherwise men would be converters of souls. Nor does it lie in the preacher’s learning; otherwise it could consists of the wisdom of men. We might preach till our tongues rotted, till we should exhaust our lungs and die, but never a soul would be converted unless there were mysterious power going with it – the Holy Ghost changing the will of man. O Sirs! We might as well preach to stone walls as preach to humanity unless the Holy Ghost be with the word, to give it power to convert the soul.”
Now does it matter at all who is preaching?