THE FOOLISHNESS OF PREACHING
Reading 1 Corinthians 1:10-24
[a] I am going to speak this morning, on what the Bible calls "THE FOOLISHNESS OF PREACHING."
[b] In the footnote commentary of the Life Application Bible, a startling fact is given! It says: -
Half the people who ever lived are alive today, and most of them do not know Jesus!
It then goes on,
Preaching the Word of God is the most important responsibility the Church has been given. (Footnotes for 2 Timothy 4:1,2)
[c] I did not become an officer because it seemed a good idea at the time!
I did not become an officer because of the career prospects! There are none!
I did not become an officer because it was well paid! It never has been!
I did not become an officer to get living accommodation – we had to sell our own house to pay our way through training!
I did not become an officer to gain respect as a public speaker – I’ve been preaching since I was 15 years old!
I BECAME AN OFFICER, BECAUSE GOD CALLED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL WITHIN THE SALVATION ARMY!
[d] I have come across many who believe in the power of the Gospel, and have prayed for my ministry.
But I have also come across those who opposed the preaching of the Gospel, and have tried to rubbish my ministry and destroy it. For reasons best known to themselves they have set about the devil’s work.
Such people have no need of a minister or pastor – they simply need to employ an administrator to keep the club operating.
WHEN THE WORD OF GOD LOSES IT CENTRAL PLACE OF ULTIMATE IMPORTANCE, WE LOSE THE REASON FOR OUR EXISTENCE AS THE SALVATION ARMY!
[a] THERE IS, AND NEVER CAN BE ANY SUBSTITUTE FOR THE PREACHING OF THE WORD OF GOD.
[b] Yes, we could throw people a Bible reading with no comment or explanation!
But it would be like going out to a high class restaurant for dinner, and have them throw a lump of raw steak on a plate with carrots and potatoes straight from the field, and tell you to get on with it! WOULD YOU BOTHER?? I DON’T THINK SO!
So it is with the Word of God, it has got to be prepared and presented to make it palatable.
[c] The Word of God in a meeting, is not just an expendable accessory!
On the contrary – it is the central point, and everything else must revolve around it, and be supplementary to it.
[d] So often, our sections have brought blessing and challenge, and they indeed have an important place in presenting the message of the Kingdom!
And that place is of course, that of a supporting role, to the Word of God!
That is why, for example, in a Salvation Army Holiness meeting, the band only plays for the first song. It is so that the attention of the members will not be taken away from the meeting in looking up music, or studying their part! THE MINISTRY OF GOD’S WORD IS DEEMED TOO IMPORTANT FOR ANYTHING TO HINDER IT’S APPLICATION!
[e] Unfortunately, many churches have developed their own liturgy, which has often taken over from ministry from God’s Word. Shrinking congregations have shown the folly of such an approach.
Let us not for one moment think that we are somehow immune in the Army, for bitter experience has shown that not to be so!
ESSENTIAL TO GROWTH
[a] The churches that are growing at a phenomenal rate today, are the charismatic churches which put the ministry of God’s Word before anything else.
[b] The largest church in the British Isles, if not Europe, is Kensington Temple, in London. It is an Elim Pentecostal Church.
They say, "If we are serious about church growth, we must find new ways of training many more people to lead small groups, to teach new converts, to establish young disciples in the Word and the Spirit. We need to establish an army of new leaders who have learnt to build lives on scriptural foundations."
[h] They view the Word of God with such importance, they have formed their own Bible College.
The International Bible Institute of London (IBIOL) was founded to service the training needs of Kensington Temple. London's rapidly growing International Charismatic Church has over 12,000 people in fellowship from 110 different nations.
Their deep involvement in Scripture and prayer, mean they are people of vision! Listen to this!
For the past ten years we have been planting churches from our base in Kensington Temple and we now have over 120 linked satellite churches. We believe that God's plan now, is for these churches to stand together as the London City Church in order to take London for Christ.
FOOD FOR GROWTH
[a] You cannot have growth without spiritual food, and you cannot have spiritual food without the Word of God.
[b] 1Peter 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.
As new Christians, just after we’re saved – there is an inbuilt desire to pray and read the Word of God – just like a baby has an appetite!
In one corps we were at, there were a number of new converts, and they just about would have moved heaven and earth to get to the Bible Study and prayer meeting, because they knew it to be the most important event in the week!
Then they started asking "Where are the mature Christians? Where are the local officers? Why are they not here?
All I could say was "I don’t know! Ask them!"
In Hebrews 5:12, we see a terrible scenario, where Christians of long standing, have neglected God’s Word, and because of it have drifted away from solid teaching.
Though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s Word all over again. You need milk, not solid food.
Hebrews 5:14 Solid food is for the mature.
IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO MATURE WITHOUT A PROPER DIET OF SPIRITUAL FOOD FROM THE WORD OF GOD!
LOSS OF APPETITE – SIGN OF SICKNESS
[a] If you’re feeling ill and go to the doctor, he could well ask you how your appetite is. The reason for this is of course, that a loss of appetite, often is a sign of ill health.
[b] Spiritually, it is no different! If an individual rejects the Word of God and ministry from it – it is nothing less than a sign of spiritual sickness of the soul!
[c] If you stop eating normal food for too long – you will die! And don’t think the same thing won’t happen spiritually – I have seen too many people withered up and spiritually dead!
[d] But thanks be to God, the story doesn’t end there – for this is the LIFE-GIVING WORD OF GOD – AS TIMOTHY PUTS IT – "GOD BREATHED" It can therefore restore spiritual life, where the flame has gone out!!
[a] When the Rev. J.B. Phillips was working on his Bible translation, he said,
`Although I did my utmost to preserve an emotional detachment,' he writes, `I found again and again that the material under my hands was strangely alive; it spoke to my condition in the most uncanny way.'
[b] Right down the centuries, Christians have experienced the self-same thing.
The Bible witnesses to being many things to us:
It is a fire to warm and a hammer to break, water to cleanse, milk to nourish, meat to invigorate, light to guide, a sword for the fight, and a mirror to reveal. It is `at work in you believers', `able to build you up', `living and active... piercing... discerning'. (See Jeremiah 23:29;1 Peter 2:2; Hebrews 5:13-14; Psalms 119:105; Ephesians 6:17; James 1:23-25; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; Acts 20:32; Hebrews 4:12.)
[c] If Christ is to be revealed, it will usually be through the Word of God.
In Martin Luther's words, just as a mother goes to the cradle only to find the baby, we go to the Bible only to find Christ. It is the Bible's primary purpose to bring people to their Saviour by arousing the beginnings of faith.
[d] The Bible is often called the `Word of God'. It is the way, above all others, that He uses to communicate with us - to get His thoughts and purposes into our minds. (By Walter Moberly)
[e] But He can only do that if we allow Him – if we have open minds, and don’t put the spiritual shutters down. He really does want to communicate with us – if we will let Him. But He will not force Himself upon us.
[f] Maybe the Lord has spoken to you just now, and you know you should be responding. Why not make a new start with Him today?