About Preaching and Living

From One Leader to Another.

Robert H. Pierson is president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

YOU WANT to be a powerful preacher for Christ! Right? Right! God wants you to be a mighty preacher for Him! Right? Right!

How do we as ministers of reconciliation make our preaching ministry effective for Him? Let us look to Jesus Christ, the greatest preacher this world has ever known. His preaching reached hearts and changed lives. Men and women could never be the same after listening to His sermons. "He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes" (Matthew 7:29). "Never man spake like this man" was the bold testimony of Christ's contemporaries in John 7:46.

The words of Christ made the warm truth come alive. They moved and changed those who heard them. "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63). There was nothing dead, nothing drab and monotonous about Jesus' preaching. People did not go to sleep while He spoke! Men and women, boys and girls, sat up and listened when the Saviour preached.

What was there about Christ's sermons, His preaching and teaching, that made such a powerful impression upon His listeners? What lent His preaching power?

Our first response is probably that God was with Him. He spoke with the power of the Holy Spirit. This, of course, is true and must be just as true of every preacher of the gospel today as it was in Christ's day. But notice something else that offers an insight into the secret of Christ's power with the people in His preaching ministry. It is very relevant to our needs as preachers of righteousness today! Jesus spoke powerfully because He lived powerfully! "What He taught, He lived. . . . What He taught, He was. His words were the expression, not only of His own life experience, but of His own character. Not only did He teach the truth, but He was the truth. It was this that gave His teaching power."—Education, pp. 78, 79.

Using a well-worn cliche, Jesus practiced what He preached. This was the dimension of His preaching that lent power with the people! When Jesus declared, "I am the way, the truth, and the life," the people instinctively knew what Jesus was talking about. They saw this truth lived out in His life every day whether He was preaching in the synagogue or on the hillside, or whether He was practicing in His daily life in con tact with others.

There was nothing irrelevant about the teaching and preaching of Christ! When He spoke to people about sanctification, about victory over sin, there was nothing ethereal or other-worldly about His words. They saw sanctification and victory over sin in His every act, every moment of every day.

Christ's living was the secret of His positive and effective preaching.

"The officers who were sent to Jesus came back with the report that never man spoke as He spoke. But the reason for this was that never man lived as He lived. Had His life been other than it was, He could not have spoken as He did. His words bore with them a convincing power, because they came from a heart pure and holy, full of love and sympathy, benevolence and truth." —The Ministry of Healing, p. 469.

If you and I are going to preach power fully, our words from the pulpit must find their source in pure hearts and Christlike life-styles. Those who sit under our ministry must see love, sympathy, benevolence, and truth in our lives. They must know indeed that we have been with Jesus. In short, we will practice what we preach.

"Sermons should be lived before they are preached," Elder M. L. Andreasen once said. If the words that we speak contain spirit and life for those who sit under our ministry, they must be given power by godly lives that echo our preaching with a loud "Amen!"


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Robert H. Pierson is president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

November 1976

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