Preaching Christian Doctrine

Preaching Christian Doctrine—No. 2

No true minister refrains from the full and clear declaration of the mind and word of God. Acceptable preaching, therefore, requires a clear presentation of every doctrine of the whole gospel.

By CARLYLE B. HAYNES, President of the Michigan Conference

Satan is the father of the lie that "it makes  no difference what men believe." The servant of the Lord has said:

"The position that it is of no consequence what men believe, is one of Satan's most successful de­ceptions. He knows that the truth, received in the love of it, sanctifies the soul of the receiver; there­fore he is constantly seeking to substitute false theories, fables, another gospel."—"The Great Con­troversy," p. 520.

So the gospel minister today, aware that "doctrines of devils" are sweeping men to perdition, and that many of them are cherished as truth among those who would follow God, seeks to forestall these lies with all possible diligence, and to establish every mind in the truth of God. He seeks by the inculcation of the whole truth for today to banish error from the minds and the hearts of the people. He will recognize, of course, that there are some doctrines of the Bible which are displeas­ing to the old nature, and which may be un­welcome to many. These, too, must be preached fully and faithfully and not omitted; for all Scripture is profitable for doctrine, and all Scripture doctrines are profitable, in one way or another, for the perfection of the man of God.

No true minister refrains from the full and clear declaration of the mind and word of God, for that would be the folly of preferring one's own foolishness to God's unerring and infinite wisdom. We dare not omit what God has revealed for this time. We must not call that useless or dangerous which He requires us to believe and teach. We are bound to explain to our hearers, according to the light given us, every part of the message for today which was designed to be given to all men, and of which we are the ordained interpreters.

Acceptable preaching for today, therefore, requires a clear presentation of every doctrine of the whole gospel, in its place, order, and connection, and for the purpose for which it has been set forth in Scripture. We are to allow no twisted thinking of ours to prevent us from "declaring all the counsel of God." Our sermons are to show that we do not will­fully conceal any part of God's revealed truth. It is to be our aim, study, and prayer, so to "grow in grace and in the knowledge of Christ," that our preaching may not only be true, but be the truth, the whole truth, "the truth as it is in Jesus."

Correct views of the ministry will lead us to present to men every truth of the Bible which bears the stamp of divine authority, connecting every part with the central heart and glory, Christ and His cross. Any re­straint upon Christian doctrine is either a defective gospel or "another gospel." On the other hand, we must guard against making overstatements, or putting any overemphasis on certain points, forcing these out of their Scriptural relationship with the whole gospel. That is as wrong as willful concealment.

Our doctrinal statements should be framed in as simple language as we can command. The way of truth should be made plain. If we will spend our time in constant endeavor to command such language as will make clear to our hearers the great truths of the Scrip­ture, we will not have so much time to spend on unimportant, subordinate subjects, and will be spared from the pitiful foolishness of com­ing before the people with fanciful specula­tions and misty theorizing. A weighty ad­monition is given us by Professor Campbell in his "Systematic Theology:" "Let us ever stop where revelation stops ; and not pretend to move one inch beyond."

Our doctrinal statement should be connected. No sermon can possibly give the whole gospel in detail. Yet each sermon should so present its subject that it will be seen as part of a connected whole, and in distinct relation to the whole system. There are important truths of the message which can be preached in such a disjointed manner that the gospel itself- is not preached. These broken fragments can­not produce that solid foundation and super­structure of Christian doctrine by which the great gospel temple is raised. Misplacing the truths of the gospel, like confusion in the inward works of a clock, makes the whole sys­tem go wrong. Disconnecting the operation of the gospel from its principles is likely to paralyze its quickening influence. Every im­portant statement of practical truth should have direct and immediate reference to Christ as the center of all.

It is quite possible to preach much valuable truth which essentially belongs to the gospel, and yet not preach the gospel. It is also pos­sible to preach about Christ, without preaching Christ. There may be a lack of that vital connection which links every part of the gos­pel system to the whole. We may forcibly set forth the importance of being saved without disclosing the way of salvation. We may em­phasize the certainty of the truth of the sinner's ruin, but be quite indefinite in explaining the remedy which God has provided for that ruin. These defective statements, which are due, perhaps, to youth, inexperience, mental bias, or imperfect knowledge, mar the beauty and completeness of the gospel, weaken its heavenly power, and confuse its demonstra­tion. Every care should be taken not to mutilate, or suppress, or disconnect truth. Truth can be so distorted in its statement and so dissevered from its connection, that it becomes positive error. Half-statements, too, can become misstatements.

Let us not allow the suppression or loss of any doctrine from our public ministrations and instructions to cause our ministry to be­come insipid and unfruitful. It is not talent and eloquence, but simplicity and faithfulness which should be the outstanding characteristics of God's servants today.

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By CARLYLE B. HAYNES, President of the Michigan Conference

June 1939

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