All sermons preached by the webmaster may be freely copied, printed and distributed. We ask only that the site name and homepage URL be included in all copies distributed. Thankyou. This sermon was preached on Sunday 25/02/1996 Pm, by Kevin Matthews. The text of the sermon given here is merely that of an outline which was used as the preacher's notes for the delivery of the sermon.
Please Read Colossians 1:24-29 (Also Acts 26:1-23)
When we analyse the church at large on the subject of preachers and preaching we come to some disturbing conclusions. Let me suggest some:
A. There is little by way of Biblical exposition (opening of text - but a range of stories, jokes, etc).
B. There is little by way of Biblical Application (mere surface sweeps, morals, leaving people 'unmoved'.
C. There is little evidence of a Biblical call in many of the preachers (lack of effort and care, lack of Christian character, etc).
D. There is little evidence of Bible Study (personal, sermon preparation, cultivation of gifts, etc).
This is not a complete list, just simply a start. Most, if not all here, would agree with these conclusions.
But what is the danger for us? The danger is that we recognize the problems of others and the church at large BUT we become satisfied with something far less than the Biblical standard, as long as it doesn't fall to the level around about us. That is the danger - it's real and it's deadly!
Let me first admit that I have not attained to being that of an expert on this subject. But I am convinced that we need to examine where we stand and to test our commitment to having Biblical preachers and Biblical preaching, that attain to the level of God's minimum standard!
We must not be content to criticise and condemn others, especially if we to fall below that which God expects.
Tonight's message is for all. Preachers, we need to examine ourselves (am I called, fair dinkum, lazy, etc). God's people, you must not accept anything less than God's standard as revealed in His Word.
So let us look at this subject of the Biblical preacher, under three main heads:
(1) THE MAN: What man can rightfully stand in the place of God, as His spokesman in the Church of God?
(2) THE MESSAGE: What is to be the burden of my life, the message that I am to bring as God's man to God's people?
(3) THE MANNER: How is God's man, the preacher, to bring His message to the people of God?
(1) The Man:
Please Read Colossians 1: 24, 25.
'Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church: Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God (Col 1:24,25).'
At Colossae there were numerous self-appointed preachers that sought to corrupt the church with heretical doctrines (keeping of laws, denying the flesh, living any way you choose, head knowledge, etc) that were all pre-occupied with what I can do to save myself.
Paul, by contrast, was not self-appointed. His was a divine mandate. He was under compulsion having been called to preach by God. He did not volunteer for the job, for it was thrust upon him - HE MUST PREACH!
'Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me. And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me (Acts 26:12-18).'
He didn't say it was about time that God recognized him for ministry, but was about destroying the church. God saved him, turned him around and appointed him to preach to the Gentiles. He was God's man for the job.
'And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry (1 Tim 1:12)'
'For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity (1 Tim 2:5-7).'
There was no self-elevation, for he was put there by God. His responsibility then was to exercise his special apostleship toward the Gentiles by bringing to them the gospel.
'Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God (Col 1:25).'
Paul was called for this very purpose - he received his stewardship from God. 'oikonomia' - stewardship (house and manage). He was managing a household as a steward of someone else's possessions. Paul was appointed by God to take His (God's) message to the Gentiles, as a steward of the gospel.
'For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me.What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel (1 Cor 9:16-18).'
Paul would be held accountable as to whether he did the job properly. He was God's man doing the job that God had appointed to him.
The application is surely clear. Those who preach can only be God-appointed men.
'How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things (Rom 10:14,15)!'
How can one preach unless he be God's called man to the job? It is the height of arrogance to assume the job of a preacher if God has not appointed you!
If you are not certain of a God-given desire (1 Tim 3:1) and compulsion to preach, if you have not been sent forth by the church (Acts 15:22) and have not the requirements of 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, you have no right to be in the pulpit.
You have no desire to cultivate the gift of preaching? DON'T PREACH! Someone has told you to preach, but you don't believe yourself called of God to preach? DON'T PREACH!
There are other roles to play in God's church, you don't need to all be preachers. These are roles for which you need not be ashamed. The preacher MUST BE God's man for the job.
(2) The Message:
Our next question is, 'what is this God-appointed man to preach? What is his message?'
'Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory (Col 1:25-27).'
The message he is to preach is the 'mystery.' Paul does not mean something which nobody knows, but rather, that which was before concealed but now revealed.
'Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith (Rom 16:25,26).'
God had made known His purpose to the Old Testament prophets slowly, revealing more and more as time went by (Progressive Revelation). The mystery which was concealed is that the Gentiles are also heirs of the promise of salvation in Christ.
It was Paul's job as a steward of this mystery to proclaim that message, the mystery of 'Christ in you, the hope of glory.' Gentiles, you are also included in this hope, through faith in Jesus Christ!
'When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory (Col 3:4).'
'By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God (Rom 5:2).'
'In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory (Eph 1:13,14).'
Salvation is for both Jews and Gentiles, is in Christ and by His Spirit (NOTE: run through the gospel).
There is a certain guarantee of eternity with the Lord. The message is that of salvation through Christ, He living and dying in the place of sinners, being sealed by the Spirit as the guarantee of all the blessings to come - a fore-taste of glory.
But there is an error today! It is that of the exclusion of all else to do with Christ and His work except that of His atonement. There is no mention of repentance, no mention of holy living, of crucifying the flesh, of obeying the commands of God - it is in short a defective gospel that is proclaimed today!
'Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God (Col 1:25).'
The preacher is to 'fulfill the Word of God.' The thought is that of developing and filling out with meaning, to teach all the Word of God, to declare to the Colossians all that is included in the gospel. In other words, 'the whole counsel of God.'
'But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God (Acts 20:24-27).'
As God's called men, we must preach the whole counsel of God. We are 'to preach the Word ... in season and out of season.' Not just the bits dealing with the atonement, not just the new Testament, not just the encouraging bits - BUT ALL MUST BE PREACHED!
It is all Special Revelation, all God's message to man, all about salvation in Christ and all about our hope of glory. It is all this message that we must preach, none is to be left out!
(3) The Manner:
How is God's man to bring God's message to the people of God?
'Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily (Col 1:28,29).'
There are six words that Paul uses to describe how to get the message across.
The first word is preach (katangello). That is to declare a completed truth. There must be a declaration and proclamation of Christ as the hope of glory.
It is not a mere suggestion, a few hints, a few interesting points, something for you to consider, BUT a positive declaration of salvation through the Pre-eminent Christ alone! You are to speak with the authority of the King Himself.
The next word is that of admonishing or warning (noutheteo). It is the idea of encouraging counsel in view of sin and the coming punishment of it.
'Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears (Acts 20:31).'
You must not just let people slip further away into sin - you must rather get alongside them, recognizing them as vital and dear, pleading with them to be reconciled to God. Remember what lies ahead for the non-repentant (you must be earnest).
Thirdly you are to teach with all wisdom. You are to impart positive truth with practical application. It is not enough to give mere head knowledge to people. The purpose here is to see growth into maturity. Therefore there must be real effort in the area of application, right through your preparation and delivery of the sermon.
Then there is labour (kopiao). We are to work to the point of exhaustion in our ministry as stewards of God's message to the people of God. We must not be satisfied with doing just enough to get by. In our preparation there must be hard work (understanding, implementing, application, keep interest, etc). We are to cultivate the gifts that God has given us, to enable us to be sure we can meet the needs of God's people.
Next there must be this striving (agonizomai) in the work. The idea is the same as labour, making maximum effort.
Dear ones, how can you and I even begin to do what is required of God's called men? Can we do it at all? The answer is yes, and that we must!
'Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily (Col 1:29).'
By the grace of God we can do it! The power of God is at work within us, to enable us to be what he has called us to be.
'For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure (Philip 2:13).'
With such a 'powerhouse' at work within us, let us make every effort. Preachers of God, we have no excuse for not being what we should be. We can be it all, by the grace of God. Let us look to Him, spend and be spent, for He who spent all for us. Amen.
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