Bible-Centered Preaching

Men need life; therefore they need the Book of life—the Bible.

By F. A. WRIGHT, Home Missionary Secretary, Illinois Conference

Men need life; therefore they need the Book of life—the Bible. It is the only book this world has ever had that brings spiritual and eternal life to men. It is the only book that is in itself living and alive. "The word of God liveth and abideth forever." Men are frenziedly working away today trying to reorganize this old world and readjust human society, doing everything in their power to hasten recovery to normal, prosper­ous economic conditions. Hearts are hoping for a lifting of the heavy burdens that are crushing humanity. In the midst of these earnest and sincere efforts let us remember that we have the Book that shows the only way of deliverance.

Recognizing the imperative need of the Word, we humbly inquire, "What shall we do about it?" The apostle Paul gave the answer when he wrote to the believers in Rome: "As much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you." This same apostle, a man of matchless evangelistic fire and logic, solemnly charged Timothy to "preach the Word." So full of force and meaning is this advice, that nearly every minister, in receiving ordination, has been given the same solemn charge.

Sometimes it seems difficult for a minister to know just what to preach. Perhaps it seems the easiest thing to preach theory, or to lecture—and altogether too many fail here. The present-day tendency is to entertain or he entertained. In fact, the whole world is sitting at the feet of entertaining stars of ex­ceptional acting ability, with whom we cannot successfully compete. We shall therefore do well to take heed to Paul's advice to Timothy, and earnestly seek to preach the Word, That Word infolds and constitutes our message to men. That Word has been the basis of all sound religious teaching from the days of Moses until the present time. Nothing that men can devise or invent can ever take its place. God places an exceedingly high value upon His word. He says:

"If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the Holy City, and from the things which are written in this book."

Surely these words constitute a warning against any substitute for preaching the Word. Our strength lies in preaching, and filling our sermons with the Word. We might often think that something else would be stronger, but such thoughts are a delusion and a snare. We are called to preach the third angel's mes­sage. This requires the comparing of scrip­ture with scripture. "Precept must be upon precept; . . . and line upon line." I believe that we should strive to give the people as much Scripture in each sermon as is needed to make the definite phase of truth under dis­cusion positive and clear to the most simple and unlearned within our congregations.

There should be occasion for Bible reading in the sermon. The people need to learn where to find the texts we are using to support our theme. I like to pause and give them the opportunity to find these texts. I sometimes arrange beforehand with an able reader in the congregation, and call on him to read a certain verse. This plan should not be carried to the extreme, and perhaps should not be employed more than two or three times in any one sermon. I likewise use the same pro­cedure in a series of evangelistic meetings, be­cause I believe it is an effective means by which the honest hearer will learn to discern truth.

To be able to preach with authority, as did our Lord, we must give our message directly from the true source of authority, the book of God, even as Christ's message came directly from His Father and the Scriptures. The people observed that from His lips came words of life, unfailing and true. They were thrilled with His lessons. In all ages people have thronged to hear a living, burning mes­sage.

Luther stirred Europe, because he had a message which he believed. Multitudes gathered to hear Wesley and Whitefield after they became conscious of a real message from God. Paul was the kind of preacher our mes­sage needs today. This blessed third angel's message contains all the elements of strength that are needed to fire the soul of a speaker. But every note that can stir and move sinners does so only as it burns in the heart of the messenger. We read from the Spirit of proph­ecy the following words:

"I saw a company who stood well guarded and firm, giving no countenance to those who would un­settle the established faith of the body. God looked upon them with approbation. I was shown three steps,—the first, second, and third angels' mes­sages. . . . 'The true understanding of these mes­sages is of vital importance. The destiny of souls hangs upon the manner in which they are received.' . . . I saw individuals approach the platform and examine the foundation. Some with rejoicing im­mediately stepped upon it. Others commenced to find fault with the foundation. They wished im­provements made, and then the platform would be more perfect and the people much happier. . . . But I saw that nearly all stood firm upon the platform, and exhorted those who had stepped off to cease their complaints ; for God was the master builder, and they were fighting against Him. . . . This af­fected some of those who had complained and left the platform, and they with humble look again stepped upon it."—"Early Writings," pp. 258, 259.

God is the master builder, If we will hold closely to the Scriptures, which give support to our hope, we will have the joy of seeing many for whom we labor soundly established upon the platform, uniting with us in a tri­umphant march into the "city whose builder and maker is God."

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By F. A. WRIGHT, Home Missionary Secretary, Illinois Conference

November 1938

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