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Fulton County Gospel News

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Preacher what will you preach this year?

By Bob Spurlin

Gospel preachers have many tasks to perform during the course of a year. Among their greatest priorities is choosing suitable sermon material for the congregations where they serve. Sermons come in different categories including: expository, topical, character studies, doctrinal, and devotional. A preacher would be wise to regularly conduct a thorough self-examination of his work. The New Year offers the local preacher an opportunity to assess his preaching, while taking into account his pulpit work for the coming year.

The primary duty of the gospel preacher is to preach. But, "What will he preach?" Paul writes, "Preach the word, be instant in season; out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine" (2 Timothy 4:2). This is a charge of great importance as the minister virtually holds life and death in his tongue. The apostle Paul declared, "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" (1 Corinthians 9:16).

Preachers are to feed their hearers the pure gospel. The apostle Peter declares, "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby" (1 Peter 2:2). The local preacher, like the cook, must provide a balanced diet. Our families deserve a healthy diet; and likewise a preacher must feed his hearers spiritual food, which will enhance their spiritual health. The following are some suggestions for those that will preach this year:

A HEALTHY PORTION OF FIRST PRINCIPLES

Faithful preachers will include a healthy dose of the first principles of the gospel during the year. The writer to the Hebrews said, "Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip" (Hebrews 2:1). The American Standard Version renders the last part of the verse, "Lest haply we drift away from them." We see those in the church "drifting" from a life of faithfulness and we wonder why this is happening. The ABCs or fundamentals of the gospel should be stressed regularly. Preachers must never assume their listeners are fully cognizant of God's plan for redemption. The fundamentals of the gospel must be regularly preached and reviewed. I fondly recall as a child that gospel preachers would take their place in the pulpit with "book, chapter, and verse" preaching. Also, due emphasis was given in each lesson to the five steps to salvation. Since the eternal destiny of souls is always in the balance, gospel preachers will not neglect this needed practice.

A HEARTY DISCUSSION OF THE OLD TESTAMENT

It is possible to lose sight of the valuable lessons rooted in the Old Testament. Recently a gospel preacher was going through his "annual review." He was informed that preaching from the Old Testament was no longer effective. Let us not exclude an important part of God's revelation, as the Old Covenant needs to be studied with keen interest. The apostle Paul emphasized, "For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope" (Romans 15:4). Consider how character studies from Abel, Abraham, Moses, Noah, Daniel, Elijah, and others give us illustrations of faith, obedience, and devotion to Jehovah (Heb. 11:1-40). Imagine the difficulty of understanding Romans, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, and Hebrews without a knowledge or familiarity with the Old Testament. Preachers of the past used to say: "The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed, while the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed." We have often heard it said, "The church of Christ does not believe in the Old Testament?" Those hungry souls that listen from week to week need to hear sermons regularly on the Old Testament. This section of the Bible highlights the many shadows and types pointing to the covenant of Christ (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 9:15-17).

A HEFTY EMBRACE OF CHRISTIAN LIVING

One of the greatest needs for the child of God is staying informed of the basic tenets of Christian living. The minister should give serious attention to this much-needed subject. Jesus said, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away" (Matthew 24:35). Living the Christian life, or any other aspect of Christianity, is to be guided by the absolute Word of God (Psalm 119:89; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). We live in an age when moral relativism is the rule of the day. Thus sermons about Christian living should include warnings concerning such subjects as immodest apparel, dancing, tobacco use, fornication, alcohol, and drugs. We must never forget a Christian is a person who wears the name of the Lord. We belong to Jesus; therefore, our daily lives should be conducted in accordance with His will (Matthew 7:24-27).

AN HONEST DOSE OF CHRISTIAN EVIDENCES

Positive encouragement and instruction is received when the local preacher devotes time to a study of Christian evidences. These studies benefit all hearers in strengthening their faith in God. Listening to sermons will edify all that hear the message (Ephesians 4:15-16). The theme of Christian evidences includes the following topics: the existence of God, the deity of Christ, the age of the earth, and the problem of evil. Several years ago a wise preacher was quizzed about the single most important Scripture in the entire Bible. He replied, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" (Genesis 1:1). The preacher predicated his remarks on the fundamental premise that if we do not believe in the integrity of Genesis 1:1, the balance of the Bible has little meaning (John 6:44-45).

CONCLUSION

For preaching to be effective, there must be sincerity of presentation, clarity of speech, simplicity of lesson, and, as we have noted, suitability of material. Following this pattern will accomplish a threefold purpose: (1) It will bring people to Christ so that they might be saved (John 6:44-45); (2) it will cause Christians to grow spiritually (1 Peter 2:1-2; 2 Peter 3:13); and (3) will keep Christians saved (James 1:21; 1 Corinthians 15:1-2).

Hartselle, AL

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