Reasons to preach

It is axiomatic that those who love the Truth will want to tell others about it. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, what is foremost in our minds will come out. As it is written, “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matt 12:34). Secondly, every believer is under an obligation to preach the Gospel. All Bible readers soon become aware that there are quite a number of Scripture passages which refer to the necessity of preaching. In fact, as the last verse in hymn 344 puts it:

“Ye who have the truth received,
By God’s grace to you revealed;
Should you dare to keep it back,
You the rich reward may lack”.

The foolishness of preaching

On the other hand, we might wonder why we bother to preach when no one is interested today – and it is to be admitted that lack of interest is disheartening – and in any case, it is sometimes argued, it is God who calls. But then, Paul wrote to Timothy, “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine … But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry” (2 Tim 4:1–5).

Paul also wrote to the ecclesia at Corinth, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are [being] saved it is the power of God … For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (1 Cor 1:18, 21).

To the modern mind preaching might seem foolishness, but it is God’s way!

The command to preach

Our Lord Jesus Christ who “came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God,” left a commandment to his disciples to do likewise saying, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not, shall be condemned” (Mark 1:14; 16:15–16).

The effect of first century preaching was that the Gospel did go into all the world (Col 1:6, 23; Matt 24:14). Surely the Lord’s words to preach the Gospel, and the confirmation that the apostles (meaning ‘ones sent’) did just that, serves as an example and motivation for us to do the same in our generation.

Our Lord warned his disciples:

“If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me” (John 15:18–21).

That the disciples did meet violent opposition to their preaching did not deter them (Acts 5:41; 8:4; 11:20). So why are we often so faint hearted when we do not meet violent opposition, but only indifference? To a man who made excuse when Christ asked him to follow him, Christ said, “go thou and preach the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:60). And so we should! Without excuse!

The preacher said, “Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days” (Eccl 11:1). We are searching for those who are disinterested and will give the word a hearing. Yes, it’s true God calls; we do not, but He calls people through His word that we must put before them. He “manifests his word through preaching” (Tit 1:3) “and this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you” (1 Pet 1:25).

Love is also a motive

Do we preach just because it is a command or is there something more? If God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, should we not be motivated to preach because we love? Paul and Peter both speak of preaching motivated by love.

Paul says, “Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of goodwill: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: but the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel” (Phil 1:15–17).

Peter writes, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet 3:9).

Judgment

We live in similar days to those of Noah. Judgment is soon to come upon this evil world as it did upon his. Despite Noah’s lack of ‘success’ in his preaching, he was nevertheless commended for being “a preacher of righteousness” (2 Pet 2:5). There is a lesson in that for us!

Paul is constrained to ask the question, “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?” In those early days of the apostles’ preaching, “their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world” (Rom 10:14, 18). But those preachers have long ago passed off the scene. We inherit their hope, and with it their preaching responsibilities.

Where do converts come from?

Today the majority of those who embrace the Truth come from our own families. Few in Western societies come to the Truth by preaching because it is the last days, not the first; but some people do, including myself. In fact there is unprecedented response to the Truth around the world at the present time, though not so much in Western countries except for immigrants, often of Asian origin. Just observe the keen interest by Chinese and other nationalities in Australia. God is still calling from the nations a people for His name (Acts 15:14–17).

If we do not continue our preaching activities and take our children to them, then we cannot expect them to be baptized when older. Nor will they be baptized if we do not treat our children as we would treat any other interested friend, but drive them away from the Truth by ill-considered remarks or treatment.

The power of example

The fact is that, like Israel who were to be “a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation” (Exod 19:6), we are to be living witnesses to the God who has called us to be His servants. And a great honour it is to be His servants. As Peter put it, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Pet 2:9).

As with Israel, the witness of a God-honouring life is a necessary part of preaching. We are all aware that the best teachers do so by both word and example. If we do not support our preaching efforts by attending in person, we are not setting a good example to anyone, and especially not to our children.

Importantly, by our preaching, even if few are converted, we are preparing the world for the coming of the Lord and submission to him in that day when:“They that be wise (mg. teachers) shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever” (Dan 12:3).