Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 18, 1971

What Shall Be Preached

Larry A. Bunch

The problem facing the preacher each week is posed in the above question. A few years ago Norman Fultz wrote an article entitled "The Sermon Problem." In that article, Norman was trying to set forth the problem (What Shall Be Preached?) from the standpoint of brethren needing certain lessons, yet the paradox of when to preach so as to be heard by all (an impossibility). Or, when it would be heard by the most or at least by those needing it. This is a very real problem, one the preacher must solve to the best advantage of all concerned and brethren should realize that he doesn't decide on Saturday night what to preach on Sunday morning! A lot of time, work and preparation goes into each sermon the preacher "delivers."

Not only does the preacher have the problem of "What To Preach?" from the standpoint of "Who Will Benefit By It?" but he has the problem of "What will the reaction be?" Some brethren would actually accuse the preacher of being personal; of having a personal grudge against someone and therefore "preaching against them." This, of course, may be true sometimes. However, I have never met a preacher yet who dislikes people or hates them and therefore preaches against them!

When brethren react unfavorably to some sermons, the preacher may be requested to refrain from preaching on certain subjects, and this presents many complex problems.

1. Brethren need to be careful lest they fall into the snare the Jews found themselves in. "The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?" (Jeremiah 5:31)

2. Brethren must take heed they do not become the fulfillment of Paul's prophecy. "For the time will come when they will not endure the sound doctrine; but, having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside unto fables." (2 Tim. 4:3, 4)

3. Preachers can easily become guilty of "preaching for hire." "The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money: yet they lean upon Jehovah, and say, Is not Jehovah in the midst of us? no evil shall come upon us." (Micah 3:11) 2 Tim. 4:3, 4 is also applicable here.

4. Preachers should study the word diligently, lest they become guilty of perverting it. "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." "Her priests have done violence to my law, and have profaned my holy things: they have made no distinction between the holy and the common, neither have they caused men to discern between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them. Her princes in the midst thereof are like wolves ravening the prey, to shed blood, and to destroy souls, that they may get dishonest gain. And her prophets have daubed for them with untempered mortar, seeing false visions, and divining lies unto them, saying, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, when Jehovah hath not spoken." (2 Tim. 2:15; Ezekiel 22:26-28)

May we ever, both those of us who preach and those who are preached to, realize the importance of proclaiming the whole counsel of God and withholding nothing! Paul declares, "How I shrank not from declaring unto you anything that was profitable . . . Wherefore I testify unto you this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I shrank not from declaring unto you the whole counsel of God." "Having therefore such a hope, we use great boldness of speech" "And on my behalf, that utterance may be given unto me in opening my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak" "We waxed bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God in much conflict. For our exhortation is not of error, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile: but even as we have been approved of God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God who proveth our hearts. For neither at any time were we found using words of flattery, as ye know, nor a cloak of covetousness, God is witness." (Acts 20:20, 26, 27; 2 Cor. 3:12; Eph. 6:19, 20; I Thess. 2:2-5)

We may then say, with Paul, "For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? or am I striving to please men? if I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ." (Gal. 1:10) If someone objects to our lessons (scriptural lessons) or questions our motives (pure motives), we may say, "So then am I become your enemy, by telling you the truth?" (Gal. 4:161

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