DO YOU stand in the pulpit on Sabbath morning because you are employed by a certain conference to pastor your church or district? Is your reason for occupying the eleven o'clock hour based upon the fact that in your ordination service you were counseled to "preach the word"? Do you preach the gospel because it is your job, your duty?
Scores of similar questions could be asked in all seriousness. Actually this is a tremendous question. Why do you preach?
Could your answer be on this wise: The Lord Jesus Christ spoke to me and invited me to follow Him. Later He laid the burden on my heart that I should become a colaborer with Him—yes, a preacher. I responded with all my heart and soul. When I entered into the work of the ministry, with the apostle Paul I said, "This one thing I do." From the very day that I responded to the call to preach, this high calling has been the one desire of my heart.
Every class that I studied, every book that I read, everything that I did was a specific investment in the greatest interest of my life—preaching for the Lord Jesus. And since I formally entered the ministry all my experience, every contact, everything I have done has been a contributing factor to my betterment, my advancement in the cause of Christ, my developing to be the best preacher for God that I can be.
Where do I fit into this picture? Is my experience 50 per cent? or 90 per cent? or 98 per cent? Is God satisfied even with 98 per cent dedication and service for Him? When Paul fully began to see himself as he really was—a man lost in sin—in almost utter despair he cried out: "0 wretched man that I am!" If the picture ended here the night would be long and black! But in Romans 8:1 this preacher of righteousness and of glorious victory through faith in Christ was able to say: "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."
Goodspeed uses the expression "those who are in union with Christ Jesus." The preacher must be in "union" with Christ else his utterances will be as "sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal." The union with Christ in the experience of the preacher is the same as his parishioner as far as the new birth is concerned. He is truly a new man in Christ. Not only is he born again, but he should be the embodiment of everything that is noble, perfect, and right as an ambassador of Christ, His emissary to a world lost in sin.
Preaching is not just a profession—it is a proclamation. Preaching is not just a job—it is justification of self and sinners. Preaching is not just a duty—it is a declaration of the principles of righteousness. Preaching is not just a process for caring for the saints—it is a plan of God for saving sinners.
Preaching is the greatest work ever committed to man. It demands all there is of one to defend the faith, to battle with the devil for God's children, to lead a lost sinner to Christ, and to guide the feet of youth toward His eternal kingdom. Preaching is a full-time job—seven days a week—for actually one can never take a real vacation. Even during the two weeks off from regular responsibility a minister is often called upon to serve. A true preacher for Christ is serving his fellow men both in the church and out all the time.
Preaching is a privilege. Some might consider it a burdensome task. Yes, the burdens do become heavy, but a true man of God brings them to the Saviour of the world and He gives him rest. He says, "My yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Fellow bearer of good tidings of great joy, does not the Christ of the cross cheer you and comfort you in every hour of need?
A true minister of Christ must do his work because there is a tremendous compulsion in his soul. Everything else in the world is secondary. He has such a burden for the lost that all he does is directed to the one goal of winning souls for the Master. Every activity of the church in his busy, overflowing program must be motivated with the one all-consuming passion to save the lost both out of the church and in the church.
Jesus looked over Jerusalem and wept. Do we look at sinners and weep in our hearts for their soul's salvation? We must have the compassion of Christ for a lost world—the souls in our field of labor. A true preacher of the gospel will cry out with Paul, "Woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!"
The rewards of selfless service are greater than earth's highest award. To lead a soul to the foot of the cross, to see him make a full surrender of his life, to get down on his knees and hear him pour out his heart's burden, confessing his sin and asking for forgiveness, is one of the greatest joys that all too many Christians never experience. Then to stand together after your prayers and look into his face and see the joy of a new and living Lord in his life is a thrill that dwarfs the genius of man.
Actually it is a foretaste of that triumphant hour when preacher and people will stand on the sea of glass and look into the lovely face of Jesus. Only then will the sacrifice and investment of our lives in service reach the zenith of joy and satisfaction as we recall the toilsome labor that will seem nothing in the light of His glory and grace.
Are you filled with a compulsion to preach the everlasting gospel? Is there a motivating force in your life that calls for a new dedication to full, all-out, unreserved service to Christ your King? Should not the words of Jesus be the only purpose for proclaiming the story of the cross: "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (John 17:3)?
Fellow preacher, does your heart burn for the souls of those committed to your charge? Are you fully desirous that your people shall really know Jesus Christ?
Do we really know why we preach? Surely we must agree that we preach because primarily we are responding to the call of Christ to go and seek and save the lost.
Jesus said to go. His task was to "preach the gospel to the poor; . . . to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, . . . to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord" (Luke 4:18, 19). This is our task, our responsibility, yes, our privilege.
By God's grace and through His love we shall triumph for His cross as we press forward in faith to proclaim the unsearchable riches of Christ Jesus.