30 Minute Radio Lesson - WAVG Radio 1450 AM
Clarksville church of Christ
November 26, 2000
Speaker: Richie Thetford
"Preach the Word"
Good morning and welcome to another presentation of "What Is Truth?" I'm Richie Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ, located at 407 W. Hwy 131 in Clarksville. I want to thank each and every one you for taking the time to listen this morning as we examine another truth of God's word.
It is my hope and prayer that those of you that are listening today will honestly examine your heart to ensure that you are in fact doing only those things that are pleasing to our almighty God. As we discuss the topic of the hour, "Preach the Word", I want to encourage you to have your Bible readily available so that you can examine the scriptures to make sure that what I am presenting is in fact God's will for you. Remember, the Bible clearly states that we must obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29). It is my hope that each one of you this morning will have the kind of heart that the Bereans did back in the first century. It was said of them that "These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so" (Acts 17:11). Also the apostle John warns us that we should "....not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1). By looking at the Bible passages, you can see for yourself that what I am teaching this morning can in fact be backed up by book, chapter, and verse in the Bible. This is so vitally important as we strive to do only that which is authorized by God and not what some man may say about a given subject. Now I invite you to please have your Bible, pen and paper ready and let's study together another truth of God.
No serious consideration of the great theme of preaching the gospel would be complete and effective unless it includes an analysis of Paul's charge to Timothy. That charge may be found in the first five verses of 2 Timothy 4, and reads as follows: "I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry."
Here God is brought to witness, and here the Lord Jesus Christ and His coming for judgment are cited as solemn reasons why the work must be done with all perserverance and haste. ""I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ," what could provide greater responsibility, or what could cause greater loss if neglected? No activity could possibly be motivated by a higher incentive than is the challenging task of preaching the gospel.
In the next four verses we are instructed in what is to be preached, the method to be employed and the proper manner of approach. Furthermore, the folly of opposing forces is described and a solemn statement charges the preacher in his personal attitude, activity and faithfulness.
We need not to be in doubt as to what subjects we should use in our preaching. Often men strive to gain attention by sensational advertising and trite announcements. If they could only realize it, interest in what they have to say is wonderfully diminished when in the first five minutes of the sermon the secret is disclosed and the audience discovers that there is nothing new about the sermon. This particular brand of deception is not any more complimentary than others. The preacher makes himself appear as one in desperation secretly trying to attract attention to himself. If something spectacular is necessary to attract the crowd, it will take something stronger to bring them the next time. I once heard of a man who claimed to be a preacher who reportedly announced that he would speak from the subject "Not a Cough in a Carload." I'm sure that even members of the tobacco growers association were not impressed, much less those who were looking and longing for the truth of the gospel. One time I heard of a man that announced that he would speak from the subject "Crying for Onions", and that the following evening the theme would be "Take it by the Tail''. Please understand, we have no objection whatsoever to making use of any striking expression either from the Bible or from the world of literature that serves to illustrate and enhance our efforts in preaching. The objection is to that attitude that prompts one to reduce the message of the Bible to the disgusting level of showmanship.
Paul charged, "Preach the word". Jesus once prayed for his disciples, "Sanctify them by your truth, your word is truth". When Paul preached the word, he preached the gospel. When he preached the gospel, according to his own statement he preached the death of Jesus Christ for our sins, his burial and his resurrection (1 Cor 15:1-4).
Not Only did he preach the necessity of believing these facts, he taught also that there was something about the gospel that could and must be obeyed. Failing to obey places one under condemnation. Let's read his words in 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9, "and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power." But, we may hear one say, "our church teaches that one is saved the moment he believes and that salvation by faith only is a wholesome doctrine and very full of comfort". Then if that is the case, your church teaches something that is not true. You ought to desert it and get back to the Bible. Remember, what Paul stated in our reading that those who obey not the gospel, "Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power" (2 Thessalonians 1:9).
The necessity for obedience and the nature of it are further set forth by the same writer in Romans 6:17. He said "But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered." Obviously the doctrine is the death of Jesus Christ for our sins, his burial and his resurrection. Of course, the Romans could not have obeyed the doctrine one cannot obey facts, but Paul said that from the heart, and that is understanding and sincerely, they had obeyed a form of the doctrine. The form of it is very simple. We believe in Christ as God's Son divine; we repent of our sins and separate ourselves from them being then dead to sin we are buried with Christ in baptism in imitation of his burial in the tomb of Joseph (Col. 2:12), Thus we have obeyed a form of the doctrine. In the 4thand 5th verse of this same 6th chapter of Romans Paul said "Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection."
That's what Paul preached when he preached the gospel. He urged Timothy, teach these things "with all long suffering and doctrine", I have heard of a man at one time who invited anyone to come and listen to him preach, promising not to disturb any minds with doctrine, stating that he would just preach the gospel, He claimed to be preaching the gospel without doctrine. He was not preaching the gospel at all for he was not preaching what Paul preached. Paul made the gospel and the doctrine of salvation inseparable. You can't preach the gospel without preaching the doctrine of salvation from sin and that by application of the blood of Christ in faith and obedience. It will be interesting to notice that this was not only the doctrine which Paul preached but that the preaching of the other Apostles and inspired men agreed with it.
When Peter preached the gospel on Pentecost, he followed the pattern later used by Paul. He outlined in the hearing of his audience how that God had intended for many ages past that there should come a Saviour who should die for the people; that Joel prophesied the incidents in connection with the first efforts to preach the gospel; that David had foretold the details of Christ's death and resurrection. He brought the sermon to a mighty climax with these words: "This Jesus hath God raised up witnesses being therefore by the right hand of God exalted and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit he has shed forth this which ye now see and hear. Let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this same Jesus whom you have crucified both Lord and Christ."
Peter preached as did Paul that Christ died for our sins that he was buried and that he was raised again from the dead, the
text further says, "Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men
and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus
Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Three thousand interested persons accepted
the challenge of the moment, obeyed the form of doctrine and were added to the church.
The work of Philip the evangelist as recounted in Acts 8 indicated that his preaching was like that of Peter and Paul. Acts 8:12 relates that Philip went down to Smmaria and preached Christ unto them. Often folks will suggest since there is confusion in some minds regarding the kingdom, why don't you just preach Christ and say nothing about it. We can't all agree on a name and there's nothing in a name anyway, so why don't you just preach Christ and say nothing about the name. Folks are not agreed on the importance of baptism so why don't you just preach Christ and say nothing about baptism. Note the implication of the text. Philip preached Christ unto them. He preached nothing more. The result of his preaching will indicate the nature of its content. When they, the Samaritans, believed the things which they heard Philip preaching concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized both men and women. The conclusion follows that when one preaches Christ he preaches that he died for our sins and was raised Łor our justification, was raised to be the head of the church and the king of his kingdom; a kingdom not yet to come, but then in existence. Christ was not a king potentially but actually and in fact. Philip preached just like Peter did in Acts 4. There the Apostle said, concerning the name of Jesus "Neither is there salvation in any other for there is no other name under heaven given among men wherein ye must be saved." Nothing in a name? Philip did not preach something in which there was nothing, but he preached the name of Jesus Christ in which there is salvation. The Samaritans hearing, believed and were baptized both men and women. The utility of this text is very broad in its scope. All preaching of the gospel brings the penitent believer to be buried in baptism in imitation of the burial and resurrection of Christ.
Did you notice who was baptized? Both men and women. Recall Paul's preaching with which this agrees. Obey from the heart that form of doctrine and be made free from sins. Infants could not obey anything from the heart. They cannot examine facts and make decisions. They are not the subjects of gospel address. Baptism is for, or in order to, the remission of sins, not the so called "original sin", but one's own sins which, if not forgiven and remitted, will bring us to eternal destruction.
Continuing through the 8th chapter of Acts we read of Philip's conversation with the ethiopian eunuch. The officer invited Philip to sit with him in the chariot and to explain to him the passage of scripture which he read. He was reading the 53rd chapter of Isaiah. In reply to Philip's inquiry he stated that he didn't understand the reading and should appreciate his guidance. Verse 35 says that Philip opened his mouth and began at the same scripture and preached unto him Jesus. Now what did he preach? You can draw your own conclusions from what followed. The next verse says, "Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, "See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?" Then Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may." And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him." Making a brief summary of what these men preached, we can say without fear of contradiction that they preached the facts of the gospel that were to be believed, the death of Jesus Christ for our sins, his burial and his resurrection. They preached the commandments to be obeyed, belief in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance of sins and baptism upon confession of that faith. They preached then the promises that were to be enjoyed, the Forgiveness of sins, and the promise of eternal life. We would certainly do well to imitate the examples of these men who were inspired of God in their teaching and preaching.
Now if we preach the word as Paul charged, we must preach the doctrine as outlined. Nor is that all we must emphasize with equal force the last half of the great commission as stated by Matthew. Recall that Jesus in that passage was quoted as saying,"Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit": Then he said, "teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you, and lo I am with you always even unto the end of the world. Amen". The gospel is not preached completely when one is just taught how to become a Christian, but he must then be taught to observe all things commanded of the Lord. Acts 2:47 teaches that the Lord adds one to the church when he becomes eligible for salvation, then that one is to be instructed in the ways of the Lord, led to walk in an upright life, following the simple rules of morality and christian dignity. He is to be devout in his services to the church, he must seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, conduct himself' honorably in the presence of men and be at peace with his own conscience. So the preaching of the gospel is a sacred task and rests upon the shoulders of the church and upon those individuals in the church able to do such work. Those who are not able to preach the gospel personally are, nevertheless, charged with the responsibility to see that it is done, They are to give liberally of their means in supportof the church in preaching the gospel at home and abroad until every son of Adam's race is given opportunity to learn of God's mercy and to accept this gospel term of salvation. Preaching the gospel is not to be considered lightly and entails the greatest responsibility that this world could possibly know.
Not only did Paul urge Timothy to "preach the word" but to be urgent at all times, in season and out of season. Whether there be prosperity or adversity, do not be content with stated times and accustomed places. Whenever or wherever you can, tell the story, let not the opportunity pass. Then three challenging words were given to guide him in his preaching. Reprove, rebuke and exhort. This is the character of gospel preaching whether anyone likes it or not. To reprove means simply to confute the false teacher. Rebuke suggests the necessity of reproving cuttingly and severely those who will not abandon their sins. These are not my ideas. They are those of the Apostle Paul. Exhort with all long suffering. Don't become impatient and weary of what often seems a thankless task. Comfort the weak, the diffident and the tempted. Undergo your own personal difficulties and afflictions with hopeful confidence. Be not affrighted nor let the dread of trouble or care induce you to relax your efforts for a moment. Neglect no part of the sacred function; perform all the duties connected with the work of an evangelist. Make full proof of the ministry.
In preaching the gospel either as a public evangelist or as a sincere individual christian, don't be too upset at possible criticisms or at the expressions of some careless or thoughtless observer. Someone has suggested a proper attitude toward criticism by saying in substance, "If it is a just criticism, then use it to overcome your weakness; if unjust you may nevertheless profit by it as it will serve to keep you humble".
There are some matters which are left up to the judgment of the speaker but he should ever be willing to profit by friendly suggestions. There are certain compensations in experience and age. As your speaker, I have no ambitions for popularity or place and, therefore, I will speak what I honestly think will serve the Lord's cause and in the manner best calculated to do the job if every dial within range of this station should be turned. Sometimes if a man talks long enough to develop his sermon, folks say he talks too long. If he closes in a "punch the clock" manner, his talk isconsidered too short. If he tells a humorous story, he is too funny, if he doesn't, he is too dry. What is the poor preacher to do? Do the best he can according to a prayerful judgment and wait for results.
Speaking of the length of a sermon, the story is told of the preacher who was wanting to take all of the time regardless of how many speakers were supposed to follow. On one occasion as usual he had worn the audience down to a thin surface discussion on the story of the healing of the ten lepers. He asked the class why they thought it was that nine of them did not express their appreciation to the Master. One disgruntled speaker, who, time had been filched by the long-winded preacher, replied that he thought it quite likely that the first had taken up all of the time.
Some of us have been criticized for using illustrations which provoke a smile. Frankly, we have never felt that a christian need be a grumpy, glum person, trying to look like the picture of Grandpa Snazzy on the wall. There is no contradiction between a light heart and an acceptable approach to God, a smiling face and a worshipful attitude. A man has no right to make his speech tiresome simply because he is preaching a sermon.
The method of approach, the plan of study, the nature of illustrations must be determined by the judgment of the speaker. Learn the truth as it is in Christ Jesus, then use whatever is commonplace or unique in making your message come alive with appeal to the heart of your audience, and may God bless you in your sincere effort to "preach the word".
In closing, another important point here is this. No matter whether on is preaching or listening, one needs to have a humble, honest heart before God striving to do the right thing in accordance with His directions. The preacher has a responsibility to preach the word of God, letting God have the opportunity to prick the listener's heart. The listener has a responsibility to listen intently to God's word with the attitude of wanting to live in accordance with His teaching. May all of you this morning strive to do only the will of God and not the will of man!
This is Richie Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ thanking each of you for listening to this morning's broadcast and invite you to listen again next Sunday morning at 8:30 A.M. for another presentation of "What Is Truth?"