"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name" (John 1:12).
COMMUNICATING with others for God is an awesome responsibility. Whether preaching or teaching, the Christian worker faces people to whom life is a big, challenging, sometimes threatening prospect. A mere presentation of facts related to truth will not suffice. Truth must be communicated within the context of the message that relates to the hearer's need and life. Relevance is the real attention getter. This calls not only for an understanding of the hearer's needs and the message that answers his needs but also the possession of a power that gets the message through to the individual.
Outside Power Needed
More than anything else the preacher and teacher have the responsibility of helping people see life from God's perspective and to see Christ as the solution to personal problems. Undertaking this task is no easy thing. As soon as he comes to grips with the problem, the Christian worker senses the need of a power outside of himself. Experience teaches that this power is available to all who submit to its leading.
He who preaches or teaches the Christian gospel enters into a working relationship with God. God is the One who preaches and teaches, the worker is the voice and mind and heart God uses. This is a practical truth we must always recognize.
We are not called upon to force the truth upon our hearers nor attempt to impose right action upon them. Our task is to set forth what God says in His Word, thoughtfully, lovingly, relating it to life. Under all circumstances it is the Christian faith as set forth in the Christian Scriptures that Christian workers are to make comprehensible, and not some demythologized jargon that stands in opposition to everything the prophets and apostles said.
God's Power Alone
The Spirit of God and the Word of God are inseparable. The one complements the other. When a worker's utterance is directed by both heavenly agencies, the hearers are impelled to ask questions of eternal import. As an illustration, among many instances, this happened at Pentecost, the desert near Gaza, on the roof top in Joppa, Lnd in the jail at Philippi. Contemporary experiences in abundance further document the truth that God's power alone can give life to the preaching of His Word.
Forcefully and pointedly does God's servant underscore the power necessary effectively to communicate God's message. We read, "The preaching of the word will be of no avail without the continual presence and aid of the Holy Spirit. This is the only effectual teacher of divine truth. Only when the truth is accompanied to the heart by the Spirit will it quicken the conscience or transform the life. One might be able to present the letter of the word of God, he might be familiar with all its commands and promises; but unless the Holy Spirit sets home the truth, no souls will fall on the Rock and be broken. No amount of education, no advantages, however great, can make one a channel of light without the co-operation of the Spirit of God. The sowing of the gospel seed will not be a success unless the seed is quickened into life by the dew of heaven."—The Desire of Ages, pp. 671, 672.
Therefore, at all times we must trust God to reach hearts and minds with what we say. Only He can. The truths we teach and preach are spiritual truths to be spiritually taught and spiritually understood.
Slogans or Passion?
Here we come face to face with the source and power of revival in our work—the Holy Spirit of God. Too often there is a danger to place much emphasis on organization and equipment and forget the spiritual dynamic. It is so easy to substitute slogans and programs for passion, to emphasize equipment and method more than message, and thereby leave little room for the Holy Spirit to direct our activities and to implement the purposes of God. This is not to deny the necessity of organization, methods, and equipment, but whatever means are used, such must be used by God.
God uses organization. Administrative staffs are necessary to correlate, direct, and unify procedures—all means to an end. The desired end is that Christ be communicated to others.
Preaching Like Delicate Surgery
God can also use equipment and methods but they must be yielded to Him and they must be flexible enough to be used. Preaching and teaching are like delicate surgery. The best equipment and methods are needed but they are not what counts, not ultimately. What really counts is the surgeon who uses them.
Beyond all these matters of method, equipment, and organization there must be a conscious and constant dependence upon the Holy Spirit. He alone can reprove of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment to come. He alone can call a sinner to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. All that is yielded to Him, He will use to produce the transformed and fruitful lives that will glorify Christ.
If ever the world needed such lives it needs them today. It has all the religion it needs, all the formulas, and all the "pat" answers. But the world needs some real answers today and these are found in Jesus Christ alone. If we do not believe that, we ought to get out of the preaching and teaching business completely. If we do believe it, we should quit acting and start dealing in realities.
Do I Need Revival?
At the risk of oversimplification let us admit that if our churches, conferences, and institutions need revival, we need renewed conference and institutional administrators, renewed staff members, renewed pastors, renewed church officers and renewed church members.
In the final analysis it becomes a personal matter. Whatever my position, it is I who needs revival. And to be revived I must go back—back to the cross for forgiveness, for cleansing, and for infilling of the Holy Spirit. Daily I must go back to the place of prayer for the dynamic of spiritual renewal, the infilling of the Holy Spirit, that I may communicate with power.