Written by: Bill Elliff
Every communicator of God’s Word who desires to grow must evaluate Himself by Christ’s earthly teaching. Living as a man, He was the perfect illustration of anointed preaching. If a man is merely interested in self glory, he will never evaluate by such a standard. But every sincere preacher desiring God’s hand on his life and ministry will gladly stand before this searchlight.
As the Pharisees gave their pompous evaluations of Christ’s teaching, Christ gave two thoughts to measure all preaching.
The Pharisees put a high premium on their ritualistic brand of formal education. A carpenter’s son came along and stunned them with His insights.
“They were astonished saying, ‘How has this man become learned, having never been educated?’”
It did not occur to them that any other path for learning was possible other than their man-initiated schooling. Jesus’ response regarding His education gives the clue to great preaching.
“My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me.”
Christ, as a man, sat at the feet of His Father and simply communicated what He heard. His preaching was God-initiated. Jesus reiterated this so often that there is no doubt of its supreme importance. Jesus said…
“I can do nothing on My own initiative.” (John 5:30) “I do nothing on My own initiative (John 8:28) “For I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent me has given Me commandment, what to say, and what to speak.” (John 12:49) “The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in me does His works.” (John 14:10) “When He, the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth for He will not speak on His own initiative but whatever he hears he will speak.” (John 16:13)
The mark of great preaching is not only diligent study (1 Timothy 2:15; Ezra 7:10), but a dependent heart consistently crying upward. “Lord, these are your people—what do YOU want to say?” Many men work up a sermon and their hearers see shine, but receive little sustenance. Faithful preachers pray down their words and deliver them hot and nutritious from above. It is the combination of diligent study and spiritual dependence that marks great communication.
It is not only God-initiated in its content, but also its timing. Such words are “fit for the need of the moment that give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29) There is an unmistakable power that penetrates the heart, convicts the soul, heals the wounds, and draws men to the Father. This conduit preaching lets God reach through the preacher and touch the heart, accomplishing deliverance of which He alone is capable.
Is your preaching God-initiated? There is a price paid to have the privilege of such delivery.
We must be done with self glory if we are to preach as Christ.
“He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.” (Verse 18)
It is the great curse of all preachers. Our natural pride rises when preaching. Standing before others, the untested heart has a secret desire to be noticed. We long to be appreciated, recognized, spoken of, remembered. We are frustrated when no one makes a positive comment to us after our message, silently angered by candid evaluations from wise listeners.
God will not entrust His truth to those who are, even unconsciously, determined to steal His glory. The proud communicator may receive great adulation from undiscerning listeners, he may revel in thoughts of how great it was, but he will hear no applause from heaven. God may override and deliver the message for the sake of the hearers at times (He spoke through a donkey once), but be grieved by the messenger, knowing his ministry will be limited by a love of human praise.
We must ruthlessly evaluate our motives. We must let the Word of God pour daily over our hearts to teach, reprove, correct, and train us in righteousness. We must be often in prayer crying, “Search me, O, God, and know my heart.” We must enlist and welcome the evaluation of godly men and women to see those things to which pride blinds us. We must realize preaching is not the performance of an hour but is developed through our relationship with Christ every hour of the week. .We must let God purify the messenger so there is no admixture in the message.
Preaching is a lifelong discipline. God accumulates His Word in the mind of the diligent student and builds His channel in the heart of the humble servant. And along the way, moments of great preaching come. Humbling and thrilling for the preacher is that moment when God speaks, when he knows the privilege of communicating God’s truth to hungry hearts…and blessed are those who hear.
© Bill Elliff
2ProphetU is an online magazine/website, started by Warren Wiersbe and Michael Catt, to build up the church, seek revival, and encourage pastors.