The Priority of Preaching :: By Dr. Donald Whitchard

Summary: The preaching of the Word of God does not go out or return void, despite what we might witness or think otherwise. The Sacred Word continues to convict the heart and give new life to all who are dead in iniquity.

Fellow under-shepherd, I’ve been there. I know the frustration you feel when it seems that you preached your heart out this past Sunday, feeding your flock the food of the Word and proclaiming the message God placed upon you. I know what it means to study for long hours, to pray, to compose the right words, to allow the Holy Spirit to give you the right words to say once you are behind the pulpit, and to use you as a chosen vessel of service to care for the people whom God has graciously given you — whether it is in a church, mission, prison, hospital, battlefield, or other place where some angels fear to tread.

You’ve looked out at the crowd to whom you are preaching, and it seems as if most of them are either looking at their phones, or their watch, or the bulletin, or staring into space, and some have taken the opportunity to catch a few winks before heading off to the nearest restaurant for lunch.

You have given these people time, tears, preparation, and the Scriptures, yet it seems for a moment that it has all been for naught. You feel within you a mix of sadness, anger, frustration, and are tempted for a moment to walk away from it all and go do something else, which a lot of your peers have done at a rapid rate in these last days. Read on, be refreshed, reassured, challenged, and comforted in knowing that God is with you, is still on the throne, still the victor over sin, hell, death, and the grave, and is always ready and able to equip and strengthen you to fight the good fight of faith as have those before you and among you today.

If you have been faithful to Jesus Christ and the inerrancy and full sufficiency of the Bible, rest assured that what you have presented will not return without some kind of result. You have continually held out your hand to pull the drowning people into the lifeboat of salvation by the power of God, and many have taken it in gratitude and thanksgiving. Some stubbornly continued to founder in the waves, seeing if they can stay buoyant or hold their breath long enough until things get better, only to go under into an eternal place of terror and torment where rescue of any kind is wishful thinking.

Our Lord Jesus preached the Word to thousands in Judea and the surrounding areas, yet at the Day of Pentecost, He had only 120 faithful followers. This was certainly not failure on His part but was an object lesson in showing His elect that not everyone will accept the message of the Gospel, but once they have heard it, they are without excuse before God on the Day of Judgment.

If you have been faithful and stalwart in declaring the truth of the Gospel, the results are not yours to count. You must leave them in the hands of the Holy Spirit to wake the sleepers and open the ears of the indifferent, and to warm the heart of the skeptic in order for all of them to see that the Scriptures are the only reality and truth in this sin-soaked world in which we live, and the authentic source of real life and peace found in Jesus Christ alone (John 14;6; Acts 4:12, 16:31; Romans 5:6-11, 10:9-10).

We also need to remember that we have not just apathetic and hostile sinners with which to contend, but also their father, the devil (Matt.13:38; John 8: 38, 44; Acts 13:10; 1 John 3:10). Satan knows he has a short time to fulfill his wicked yet futile goals, so he will do and say anything he can to silence the message and messenger in order to drag as many souls as he can with him to the Lake of Fire (Matt.25:41; Rev. 20:10-15). He is a defeated foe but still fights like a fanatic with nothing to lose. Our job is to get his victims to the safety of the cross and the healing arms of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Lord Jesus called on all who would listen to Him to “repent, and believe in the Gospel” (Mark 1:14-15). By repentance, I do not mean a half-hearted mumbling of “I’m sorry” to Almighty God, hoping He will look the other way the next time we sin. Repentance according to God’s standards means that He makes us look in His mirror at our reflection, darkened with wickedness and wretchedness, and it is something we do not want to face but must in order to see that we can do absolutely NOTHING to remedy the problem in our own strength or method (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Preacher, now is the time to gird up your loins, sharpen your sword, fasten your armor, and hit your people with the power of the Word and Spirit, and hit them three ways: hard, fast, and continually. Their souls are at stake, and as these days draw to a conclusion, the time to come to the cross is NOW (2 Cor.6:2).

God’s mirror shows us that we are not the center of the universe. The foolish and self-centered thinking that corrodes our senses has made far too many of us believe that we are indispensable, important, and that our well-being takes precedence over everything and everyone else. We have bought into the idea that we need to be “Number one.” Time for a trip to Reality City, everyone. Let God show us where we stand before Him. Nobody owes us one blessed thing in this world or the next, and neither does God. Why do I say that? We broke His laws, we disobey Him, we mock Him, we question Him, we think we know better than Him, we may even deny Him and foolishly demand that He provide us with answers to our questions, as if we have the authority to tell Him what to do.

Let me pour water on that campfire. God Almighty does not have to explain Himself, defend Himself, or answer to any of us. The book of Genesis tells us that God created us out of the DUST of the ground. We are animated dirt that had the unmitigated gall to disobey and rebel against our Creator. Who do we think we are anyway? If you think for one minute that you are the glue that holds everything together, go take a trip to the local cemetery, and you will find graves and tombs of people who once thought the same thing, now oblivious and forgotten after a generation or less, and all are in eternity somewhere either in glory or agony.

Here is another salient comment that neither the grinning “Colgate Boys” in the TV megachurches and far too many contemporary pastors won’t say to their people, preferring to be trendy and popular than Scripturally right. We have to stop throwing pity parties for ourselves every time something does not go our way, because the people around you are sick and tired of getting the invitations in the mail. This present generation, for the most part, has picked up a bad habit of not GROWING UP!! We have too many adults acting like spoiled children, afraid of being “offended” or being “triggered” by an upcoming situation or comment from someone who has the nerve not to agree with them on everything.

We are as an “unclean thing” and a “filthy rag” in the sight of God if we think we’re “all that and a bag of chips” (Isaiah 64:6). I will be a bit more graphic in what the prophet is describing in terms of our own self-righteousness. It is like bringing a bloody menstrual rag (tampon) before God and saying to Him that a saturated, stinking piece of cloth used to stop the flow of a monthly period is sufficient enough to grant us entry into heaven and His presence. Are we that arrogant? Yes. Keep looking in God’s mirror.

We cannot do or say ONE THING IN OUR OWN POWER, STRENGTH, OR WORDS to ever make us right before God. DEAL WITH IT!! Do not blame Him if your plans fell apart or nothing went right.

Too many of us have decided that we can do everything short of walking water and can get on without God, only to fall flat on our behinds and land in a mess of our own making. Perhaps that is when God will gently impress upon you this thought: “Now that I have your attention….” You are not an island in terms of suffering, sadness, and sin. Your friends and family have had their share of troubles, and all of you are in trouble if you do not come down from your pedestal, abdicate your throne and title of “King Me,” and humble yourself before the great and wondrous God who is ready to offer you mercy, grace, love, and forgiveness if you will but kneel at the cross of Christ and give your life to Him this day (Matt.11:28-30; John 10:28-30, 14:6).

We deserve eternal hell for the way we have treated God and rebelled against His decrees, but He is ready and willing to embrace you and make you one of His true sons or daughters this day. The Lord Jesus Christ who preached repentance then gives the same message to you now. Pastor, chaplain, and all servants of God charged with spreading the Gospel; this is the message the pulpits of America and the world need to hear, now more than ever.

Be strong and of good courage, brethren. Our God still saves, delivers, and heals. Preach the Word. Jesus expects nothing less.