Be good to your servant while I live,
that I may obey your word. (Psalm 119:17)
Not Just Pointing at People
Pastor David Roseberry went to see a doctor for pain in his shoulder. It hurt whenever he moved it. The doctor diagnosed it as “frozen shoulder” and said it comes with age and over-use. The doctor prescribed physical therapy and a cortisone shot. The doctor asked, “What do you do for work?” Dave answered, “I’m a minister. I preach for a living.” The doctor said, “Great. We’ll get that joint loosened up so you can continue to point your finger at people.”1
Sad to say, that is how many people view Bible teachers and preachers. On the contrary, Scripture says that we bring good news, beautiful news to people. “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved….Anyone who believes in Christ will never be put to shame….He is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on Him, for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:9-15)
Rather than pointing fingers at people, we gladly point men, women, girls, and boys to the Lord who is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will He harbor His anger forever. For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.2
This post continues some guidelines for my own teaching and preaching that I used at Belhaven University in Houston, TX. I have also used them at Jester III prison and with other pastors and Christian workers. They are adapted from an older document written for pastor-teachers, but I apply them to all Christian teachers and preachers, men and women.
You can read: Teaching and Preaching the Bible (Part 1)
We Must Rely on the Holy Spirit’s Power, Not Our Own Cleverness
Scriptures: 1 Corinthians 2:4 My message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. (NLT)
Comments: In the Greco-Roman world of Paul’s day, people who excelled at rhetoric and philosophy were celebrities like movie and sports stars, or like motivational speakers today. They debated others, gave flashy speeches using stylish words, and attracted devoted followers who paid big fees. These speakers were impressive and often manipulative. Instead, Paul wanted all the focus to be on Jesus Christ, His gospel message, and the Holy Spirit’s power to convince and transform people. Act 16:14 says: “The Lord opened Lydia’s heart to respond to Paul’s message.” No one will turn to Christ for salvation unless God goes before us and sends His Spirit to change human hearts. This is why prayer for our teaching and preaching is so important. Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.”
We are not salesmen, for we have nothing to sell. We are bringers of God’s Good News. (Billy Graham)
We Should Be Faithful to the Holy Spirit’s Scripture Message
Scriptures: Jeremiah 23.28 Let the one who has my word speak it faithfully. 1 Cor 4:1-2 We are servants of Christ and entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.
Comments: Paul’s standard of success was not praise from others or large crows but faithfully doing what Christ commissioned him to do. Hearers will judge us but that doesn’t matter. The only opinion that ultimately matters is God’s flawless assessment of His servants when Christ returns. Ultimately we are accountable only to Him, and He will graciously praise us if we are faithful to Him.3
It is not opinions that people need; it is truth. It is not theology; it is God. It is not religion; it is Christ. It is not literature and science; but the knowledge of God’s free love in the gift of Jesus, His one and only Son. (Horatius Bonar)4
We Should Teach and Preach the Whole Counsel of God.
Scripture: Acts 20:27 I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. (ESV)
Comments: Paul held nothing back of Christ’s revelation. He taught God’s plan of salvation accomplished through Messiah’s death, resurrection, and exaltation. He taught Jesus’ doctrines, devotion to Christ from the heart, and the demands and duties of following Jesus in an antagonistic world. Paul taught about the blessings of salvation for Christ’s followers and the judgment to come to all who reject Him.5 Much of the Bible’s message is not popular. God calls for total submission and changes our heart, mind, and behavior.6 That is inconvenient and difficult. But refusal to trust and obey Jesus leads to destruction. We must not pass over the hard teaching of the Scriptures.
If I sum up the gospel I must tell you certain facts: Jesus, the Son of God, became man; He was born of the virgin Mary; lived a perfect life; was falsely accused; was crucified, dead, and buried. The third day Christ rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven and sits on God’s right hand; from there He shall also come again to judge the living and the dead. These are some of the elementary and essential truths of our gospel. We believe in Jesus’ resurrection of the dead, His final judgment, and the life everlasting. (Charles H. Spurgeon)
We Should Teach and Preach Wisely
Scriptures: Col 1:28 Jesus is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. Ecclesiastes 12:9-12 Not only was the Teacher wise, but he also imparted knowledge to the people. He pondered and searched out and set in order many proverbs. The Teacher searched to find just the right words, and what he wrote was upright and true. The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one shepherd. Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them.
Comments: Solomon worked hard to gain wisdom, instruction, understanding, and insight, for the purpose of prudent living, doing what is right and just and fair.7 Goads are pointed sticks used for guiding herd animals. We human beings need God’s pointed truths to guide us, truths that are dependable and reliable. Solomon points ahead to Christ the Chief, Good, and Great Shepherd of God’s people. Jesus leads us in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
The Christian life is a process of better understanding what Jesus taught, learning to apply that teaching in our everyday lives, and then teaching others, people directly around us and people on the other side of the globe, to do the same. (Francis Chan).8
Wise teaching and preaching not only convey pure doctrine, important as that is. The Holy Bible is able to make us wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that we may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:15-17).
To be continued. You can read Teaching and Preaching the Bible (Part 3)
Notes (various Bible translates used): 1 Psalm 103:8-9; John 3:16. 2 John 6:44. 3 Matt 24:45-47. 4 from Words to Winners of Souls. 5 John 3:16-21. 6 Matthew 16:24-27. 7 Proverbs 1:1-3. 8 from Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples.