by Barry Cameron
I heard of an old church in England with a sign on the front of their building that said, “We preach Christ crucified.” Over time, ivy grew up and obscured the last word. The sign now said, “We preach Christ.” As the ivy continued to grow it covered even more of the sign until it said, “We preach.” It wasn’t long until ivy covered so much of the sign you could only see the word, “We,” and it wasn’t long before the church died.
John Wesley, said, “Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen, such alone will shake the gates of Hell and set up the Kingdom of God upon the earth.”
The Bible tells us God chose “the foolishness of preaching to save those who believe” (1 Corinthians 1:21). But honestly, a lot of what is being preached today would be considered mere foolishness. Much of the current preaching in our world doesn’t honor God, reach the lost or come close to shaking the gates of Hell.
Instead, in our misguided efforts not to offend those who are lost and Hell-bound, much of today’s preaching has become so ostentatious the only person it could possibly offend is God Himself, and the only kind of people it could possibly reach are those with hearing problems (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
Years ago a preacher named Peter Cartwright was getting ready to preach. Before he went to the pulpit, he was informed President Andrew Jackson was in the audience. Church leaders told him to be careful about what he said in his sermon so as not to offend the President. When Cartwright took the pulpit, it’s reported he said, “I understand that Andrew Jackson is here. I have been requested to be guarded in my remarks. Andrew Jackson will go to Hell if he doesn’t repent.” The congregation was stunned and wondered how President Jackson would respond. Following the service, the President shook hands with Cartwright and said, “Sir, if I had a regiment of men like you, I could whip the world.”
Our passion isn’t to whip the world. Rather it’s to win it. But if we ever hope to win the world, we’re going to have to preach the Word, in season and out of season, and we’re going to need preachers like John Wesley and Peter Cartwright.
Steven Lawson said, “The reality is that not all preaching is the same. There is the kind of preaching that God blesses, and there is that which he abandons. There is the kind of preaching that has the favor of Heaven upon it, and there is that which is a mere exercise in rhetoric. There is a world of difference between the two.”
We dare not “shrink from declaring the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27), but “preach Christ crucified” (1 Corinthians 1:23), and the Gospel, “not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power” (1 Corinthians 1:17), and preach the Word “in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2), “not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
Charles Spurgeon said, “The preaching of Christ is the whip that flogs the devil. The preaching of Christ is the thunderbolt, the sound of which makes all hell shake.”
Let’s pray our preaching will shake the very gates of Hell and touch the souls of men for eternity.