For the last couple months my wife and I have been studying the gospel and seeking Christ that the Word might dwell richly in our hearts. I am really sick of gospel preaching that is content with wrapping our heads around neatly packaged, but ultimately unrealized doctrines. My hearts desire is that Christ would walk in the midst of our hearts and cause His word to flow like living waters within us so that our preaching would be out of the abundance of the heart.
“For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
“But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say? Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great.”
THE REALITY OF CHRIST-INDWELLING
There is no power in preaching unless Christ first indwells the heart of the preacher. You may outline your sermon, “checking it twice”, and you may seek counsel from the greatest preachers in the world so that your sermons are doctrinally impeccable, but, if Christ be not dwelling in you, your words are dead and there is not power in your preaching.
My wife and I are realizing how inescapably real this is; the soundness of your doctrine is unmistakably necessary, but the life-giving power that anoints your preaching is Christ indwelling and the demonstration of the Holy Spirit and power.
We discover that nothing good dwells in the carnal man (Romans 7:18), but, being joined to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we are washed of regeneration and renewing in the Holy Spirit.
If the preacher’s heart remains bad, having bitterness, envy, selfish ambition, and carnal lusts, though his doctrines remain technically right, his preaching is defiled by hypocrisy. This kind of preaching does not receive God’s promised blessing to provide “rain for the seed” (Isaiah 30:23).
Equally terrifying is the possibility that although the preacher gives his life to preaching sound doctrine, and perhaps the Lord pours out His mercy and sends the rain that the souls listening might be saved, the end of such preaching is disqualification (1 Cor. 9:27).
Yet there will be no disappointment in the heart with whom Christ dwells! The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ will surely lovingly teach such a soul to walk in soberness, righteousness, and godliness; this heart is guarded by the peace of Christ and from it will overflow every good thing that comes from Christ.
The heart in which Christ dwells is sure to have the blessings of the Lord proceeding from the mouth, and the preaching that comes from this source will be both sound and good.
THE POWER OF PREACHING
Preaching is God-appointed as the vehicle through which the miracle of salvation occurs: its purpose is to bring the hearing of the word which produces faith, and faith effects the work of God!
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 unless they are sent?
As it is written:
“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!”
But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
The preacher is a a servant sent by God to proclaim His good news of salvation for all men. Just as Paul wrote, “But thanks be to God, that, whereas you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were delivered” (Romans 6:17), so the preacher is entrusted to deliver this teaching that those who hear from a sincere heart with faith might receive deliverance!
PREACHER, TRUST GOD
My final exhortation for my brethren and fellow preachers is to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6). It is not cunningly developed persuasion by which the everlasting faith given to us by Christ depends, but upon the demonstration and power of the Holy Spirit; do not worry about the eloquence of your speech, the cleverness of your stories, or the well-laid plans of your mission, but depend wholly upon God to send the rain that your seed may increase!
Do not be discouraged when you labor and toil and see only hard hearts, for so they killed God’s messengers who were sent to invite His guests to the wedding feast (Matthew 22); submit yourself to God, and He surely will lift you up, preach the words that agree with godliness and the sound doctrines of the Lord Jesus Christ and so save yourself and those who listen to you (1 Tim 4:16).
May you go in peace and abound in grace. Amen!