An Imperfect Man Writing the Perfect Message of God

08 JULY 2017, 10:06 PM

How can a finite and imperfect man write the timeless and perfect message of God? How is a weak human soul deliver God’s holy message?

These are the hardships and the reality that preachers face every week in the preparation of their sermons. Preparing and delivering a sermon is a lot more than ordinary public speaking. When a preacher prepares a sermon, he is basically trying to write what God desires to tell His people; when a preacher delivers a sermon he is basically becomes God’s mouthpiece of encouragement, hope, chastening, and correction. Thus, preaching connects the people of God to the heart and mind of God through the hearing of an hour-or-so public speech called preaching.

A preacher is never perfect. He often falls short if being strong in the faith and godly conduct. But it is his duty to deliver God’s message – weekly. That is the great responsibility of every called preacher. Even the Apostle Paul recognized his own sufficiency in such a great task:

2 Corinthians 2:14-17 (KJV) Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.
For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish:
To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?
For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.

Despite of our insufficiency, we can rest assure that God is with us as we prepare and deliver His message, as long as we completely put our trust in Him.

2 Corinthians 3:5-6 (KJV) Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;
Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

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The Applause of the Crowd

Any ministry, especially those that exposes one in front of a crowd, like preaching calls for a great test of character. One temptation that is always present is vanity for there will be always a crowd that will applaud you.

Of course while in front you try yourself to be bold – or else you will not be convincing and powerful. A timid preacher or a song leader will be a contradiction of terms.

But to be bold pulls the heart also to be proud – this should be overcome, or the motive and the purpose of the ministry will be overthrown.

Yet to be bold while doing the blessed task of preaching isn’t the hardest part – I find it too often that the most challenging area is the afterwards – returning to your seat and to be soon acknowledged and praised for the beauty of the content and the power of the delivery of the sermon. Wow, tough issues indeed.

For my part I try to be silent. I very rarely ask anyone after the preaching how good or powerful it was. I think this act of asking calls for pride more often rather than the genuine sincerity of humble asking. Sometimes I would only ask other mature Christians if my exegesis and interpretation of the Text is right.

The more important part is God’s act – God’s way of continuously changing my heart for the better – to be humbled down. He does this in many ways. Internally, He gives me a new heart, externally, He uses people and circumstances.

Praise be to God only, no matter how unworthy I am, He blesses His Word as I preach it to the crowd.

 

Let Me Preach Again

English: Christ preaching petite tombe’
Christ is the best preacher of all.

Preaching isn’t easy, but I like it. It is the divine task among all the others that satisfy me the most. Since 2004 I have been preaching, and it has been a wondrous journey. Time and time again I would reminisce those moments, each sharing some unique lessons and experiences.

But I have stopped preaching for a while now. For at least four months I have not set foot to preach on the pulpit. Then an invitation from a council member of a church and its pastor once again awaken my desire to preach.

True I am not as strong and prepared as before. But I still have the skills, those are not easily lost, but could fade in time when not used. However, it is not the skills that is most important, but is the preparedness of the heart and the right standing in front of God. Though of course preaching is not at all earned, for no one is worthy, but is accepted as a free gift on the merit of Christ and His righteousness. That is why though it could be certainly practised and developed, it could never be mastered.

That gives me the incentive to preach. True preaching is always the product of God’s Grace – I mean to say true powerful preaching that transforms the heart.

Preaching as an overflow of God’s Grace, does not mean I do not have to act. I would study and meditate again, read and reflect. I would strive to be strong again, to be holy, and that is the most important thing. Read, study, live the message, and preach it. All for the Glory of God.

 

Preachers are Broken People (most of the time)

not strong but weak
A preacher is often weak on the inside.

Generally, preachers are not strong people, but weak individuals strongly used by God for His Kingdom purposes.

Dynamic preachers are usually seen as strong people, not knowing the aches and struggles they face behind the pulpit. Preaching for more than five years already, I could say from experience and observation of others some facets of the weaknesses preachers face from time to time.

1.) Lacking the zeal to study harder. Preachers should study not just to prepare sermons, but also to nourish the self. Hard study and meditation and memorization should ever equip the heart and mind of the preacher – and that is an absolute rule. Every man of God, and certainly the preacher, should have his blood with the Word on it.

2.) Lacking the desire and effort to live what he preaches. One frustration of the preacher is failing to measure up his own life for what he preaches. Yet, even worse, the lack of the desire to live his message. Sometimes, the heart could be so cold and dark that there is no real desire to walk his talk.

One of the biggest fulfilment of a preacher is seeing his life living out his sermon. It has always been an ideal for me to follow the great example of the great teacher and reformer Ezra: study the Word, then live it up, then teach it to others. And that is Ezra 7:10.

3.) Lacking the humility to pray more than enough. The persistence and intensity of the preacher to pray for the power of his sermons has no limitation. But often, he is easily caught by the temptation to pray just enough or less than enough – with no tears at all. Not willing enough to pray for more reflects a heart hardened by pride. It is an indication that he relies on himself a little bit (or too much) and not totally on God.

Often, I have found my preaching to be very dynamic and fruitful, not so much because of my own prayers – thanks to the prayers of others. Again, this is one great gem in the secret of Spurgeon’s power in preaching – his congregation continuously prays for his preaching.

Preachers are broken people. But maybe it is more truthful to say that the most powerful preachers are those who are truly broken – not necessarily broken by sin, but is broken before the Lord in utmost humility, dependence, and submission. It is truly a paradox in God’s design that He uses weak vessels to contain the insurmountable divinity of the Word, spilling out His grace, mercy, and love to the lost world. And it is still a greater paradox that even if God uses the weak to display His strength, there is still the great standard for every preacher to imitate dearly the holiness of Jesus, the Master Teacher.