Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 22, 1962

Preaching To Please The Lord - (No. 2)

Thomas 0, O'neal

In the first article it was noticed that in order to please the Lord, our preaching must be backed up with a statement from the pen of the Holy Spirit. In this article, our purpose is to show that to please the Lord, our preaching must emphasize the message rather than the messenger.

Old Testament Messengers

Those men that spoke unto the people for God whose lives we read about in the Old Testament let their hearers know what they said was the word of the Lord. Isaiah said, "Hear, 0 heavens, and give ear, 0 earth: for the Lord hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me." (1:2) Jeremiah said, "Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, ...." (1:4) Ezekiel said, "The word of the Lord came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest,...." (1:3) "And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying...." (14:2) Hosea said, "The word of the Lord that came unto Hosea,...." (1:1) Joel said, "The Word of the Lord that came to Joel the son of Pethuel." (1:1) Amos declared, "Thus saith the Lord " (1:3) Jonah says, "Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,...." (1:1) (Emphasis mine, T. 0.)

These quotations could be multiplied many times, however, these are sufficient to show that the Old Testament prophets emphasized the message of the Lord rather than themselves.

New Testament Messengers

When one turns to the New Testament, he finds that the Word of God was emphasized instead of the messenger. John the baptist is described as one crying in the wilderness, saying repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matt. 3:2-3)

When the Apostle Paul wrote to Corinth the first time, among other things he wrote in an effort to correct the divided condition that existed in the church. The Corinthians were divided over preachers. Some were following Paul, some Christ, some Apollos, and some Cephas. (1 Cor. 1:10) Paul rebuked them for their divided condition and told them "for ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?" Then Paul set forth to show them that the one who did the preaching, the one who had baptized them, should not receive the honor that they were seeking to give him. Paul raised the question, "Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?" Again, Paul told Corinth, "I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase." (1 Cor. 3:2-7) (Emphasis mine. T.0.) Paul, a New Testament messenger, was showing that the messenger should not be exalted like some in Corinth were trying to do.

When Paul, wrote to Corinth the second time, he was still teaching them to emphasize the message — Christ, rather than the messenger. "For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake." (2 Cor. 4:5) It was not the purpose of the first century preachers to "sell themselves" to the world, but rather their desire was to convert the world to Christ by preaching the gospel! (1 Cor. 1:23; 9:16)

Some Want To Exalt The Messenger

We are living in a day when brethren and the world want to exalt the one who does the preaching rather than the message that is preached. Currently there is a series of books being published entitled "The Great Preachers Series." Those who have been selected as "the great preachers" were selected because they were television or radio speakers, world travelers, editors, orators, brilliant scholars, lectureship directors, presidents or vice-presidents of some college. One has not been selected as a great preacher who has labored under difficult circumstances in an area where the glorious gospel has not been known, and has been instrumental in teaching precious souls the truth. Those behind the "Great Preacher Series" evidently are not interested in any qualification except those that exalt the man.

Another factor that shows beyond doubt that many are interested in exalting the messenger is the craving for degrees by many. Too many times a man will not be heard unless he has some academic (or honorary) degree — Ph. D. or Th. D. One brother recently wrote a book and it seemed to be the attitude of both the book and brethren that one should accept what the brother said in the book because he had a Ph. D. Many members of the church have almost got to the place that they think one cannot preach unless he has attended one of "our" colleges and received a degree from it or from some school of infidelity. We are a people who have almost gone degree crazy!

The Need Of The Hour

What the world and the church needs today is to place the emphasis upon the message — the Gospel of Christ and the preaching will take care of itself. Emphasize the message; not the messenger!

— Box. 763, Jasper Alabama