MARVIN L. WEIR
It has been said that “as goes the home, so goes the nation.” It is also true that “as goes the preacher, so goes the church.” The influence of homes is being felt each day in our society. Please remember that influence will be either good or bad. An influence that claims to be “neutral” is not worth a thing! It was Jesus who forthrightly declared, “He that is not with me is against me, and he that gathereth not with me scattereth” (Matthew 12:30). Thus, a preacher is definitely going to influence the congregation with which he labors. His influence and leadership will play a role in folks taking either the high road that leads to Heaven or the low road that leads to eternal torment.
Godly elders always come to mind when one thinks of the true leaders (shepherds) of the congregation. Elders who are scripturally qualified (1 Timothy 3; Titus 1) are God’s leaders (overseers, pastors) of the flock. It may be that a preacher meets those qualifications and has also been selected by the congregation to serve as an elder. If not, the preacher is subject to the decisions of godly elders just as are all other members of the congregation. But by the very nature of his council, teaching, preaching and influence, a preacher is cast into a very important leadership role.
TO LEAD EFFECTIVELY A GOSPEL PREACHER MUST RESPECT
As a mouthpiece of God a preacher must choose to wear the armor of God to be successful in doing battle with Satan and his forces. One cannot lead folks toward Heaven while ignoring or making mockery of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, or the sword of the Spirit, God’s Word (Ephesians 6:13-17). These items comprise “the whole armor of God” (Ephesians 6:11) that any Christian is obligated to proudly wear, but especially must those be so clothed who are in leadership positions.
Can it be that changes have occurred in our society that necessitate a change in the Christian’s armor? If so, what has “truth” become? Instead of the word of God (Psalms 119:160) has it now become the latest diatribe of the most vocal and polished false teacher? Has the “breastplate of righteousness” been replaced with “the breastplate of political correctness?” Has “the gospel of peace” evolved into “a gospel of peace” modified for anybody and everybody? Could it be that “the shield of faith,” “the helmet of salvation,” and “the sword of the Spirit” worked fine in Paul’s day, but are now no longer relevant to man’s needs? Instead of asking some modern scribe who is the subject of several degrees of blindness in modernistic thinking, why not consult the Word of God? Do you remember the Christian armor being limited to a particular culture? Where was the Christian armor of Ephesians 6 replaced by one more suited for today’s society? The truth of the matter is there was but one armor needed and one armor given and all students of the Bible know that God has not authorized a change in armor!
A gospel preacher can be an effective leader and soldier of the cross only by wearing and recommending to others the armor that God has specified. Modern day armor conceived in the mind of men will not suffice to withstand “the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). As one who is in a position of leadership and influence, a gospel preacher will expose any false assurance that will cost one his soul. One who believes in faith only (cf. James 2:24), once-saved, always-saved or the impossibility of apostasy (cf. 1 Peter 2:20-22), the church of your choice (cf. Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 4:4), and worship according to the will and whims of men (cf. John 4:24; Colossians 2:23) are trusting in the wrong armor.
A GOSPEL PREACHER WILL LEAD PEOPLE TO CHRIST
What should one in a leadership role teach and preach? The only thing that God has ever authorized to be taught is His inspired truth (John 17:17). People are led to Christ by preaching Christ – not social and felt needs! When Philip went to Samaria he “proclaimed unto them the Christ” (Acts 8:5). The results of preaching Christ are recorded when the Scriptures declare: “But when they believed Philip preaching good tidings concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women” (Acts 8:12). How did the Samaritans know they needed to be baptized? Philip stressed the essentiality of baptism for salvation just as Peter did on the day of Pentecost. The people upon hearing Peter preach Christ were “pricked in their heart”and asked, “Brethren, what shall we do” (Acts 2:37)? “And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).
In order to lead people to salvation a gospel preacher will preach the gospel. The gospel is the only power to save (Romans 1:16). Thus, spiritually speaking, anything else preached is a waste of time. Our Lord left no room for doubt as to what message He wanted preached. The Lord said to His chosen apostles, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16). The message the apostles proclaimed was distinctive, and it soundly condemned all teaching not in harmony with the precious gospel. The same type of preaching must be done today if folks are going to be persuaded to obey Christ. Much is said today about one being “called” by the Lord, but the Scriptures clearly reveal that all are called through the gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:14).
We have already seen that to “preach Christ” or to “preach good tidings concerning the kingdom of God” is one and the same. Another descriptive phrase the Scriptures use is preaching the Word. Peter stated, “But the word of the Lord abideth for ever. And this is the word of good tidings which was preached unto you” (1 Peter 1:25). Thus, to preach the Word is to preach the gospel. The apostle Paul charged young Timothy, saying, “preach the word; be urgent in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure the sound doctrine; but, having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside unto fables” (2 Timothy 4:2-4).
If a preacher intends to lead souls to Heaven, he must believe in the Word and preach it in its purity and simplicity.
A GOSPEL PREACHER MUST TAKE THE LEAD IN PROCLAIMING
The preaching that is in demand today is preaching that does not make waves. People may indeed be in the wrong, but don’t tell them they are wrong! Whatever one does, he must not offend anyone. Compromise is the name of the popular game that must be played, and certain topics are “off limits.” This keeps everything upbeat and everyone in a good mood.
Truth is truth and error is error regardless of friend or family. The apostle Paul was “pure from the blood of all men” only because he “shrank not from declaring unto (them) the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:26-27). Much of what is preached today would be welcomed in the local Rotary Club or any denominational church in town. A gospel preacher will take the lead in unsheathing the sword of the Spirit against denominationalism, Judaism, paganism, modernism and every man-made philosophy that contradicts the Word of God. Many know fully well that if the preacher eases up and does not name sin for what it is that some will be comfortable in sin. The popular request of Isaiah’s day is the popular request today: “Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits” (Isaiah 30:10).
A gospel preacher whose desire is to save souls and lead folks to Heaven will not refrain from preaching the whole counsel of God just because some do not want to hear what they need to hear. We need to possess the courage of the apostle Paul who said, “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? or am I striving to please men? if I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10).
A GOSPEL PREACHER MUST TAKE THE LEAD IN BEING
All Christians are to be the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world” (Matthew 5:13-14). But especially must one in a leadership role “let (his) light shine before men; that they may see (his) good works, and glorify (his) Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). There is a great deal of truth in the old adage that says, “I would rather see a sermon than to hear one.” Our Christianity or lack thereof is always on display for the world and members of the body to see.
The apostle John admonished, “My Little children, let us not love in word, neither with the tongue; but in deed and truth” (1 John 3:18). This verse of Scripture should have special meaning to those that are seeking to lead people to the joys of a Heavenly home. The apostle Paul instructed the young preacher, Timothy, wisely when he said, “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an ensample to them that believe, in word, in manner of life, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). It is necessary for one who is serving in a leadership role to strive to live his life beyond reproach so he will not become a stumbling block to any.
IT IS A WEIGHTY RESPONSIBILITY TO REALIZE THAT OTHERS
One can either attempt to lead people through the “narrow gate” and the “straitened way” that leadeth to eternal life or he will by default lead them through the “wide gate” and along the “broad way” that leads to eternal destruction (Matthew 7:13-14). The Savior warns, “Woe unto the world because of occasions of stumbling! for it must needs be that the occasions come; but woe to that man through whom the occasion cometh” (Matthew 18:7)! Those who have no respect for the authority of the Scriptures and a “thus saith the Lord” will give an account in the day of judgment for leading folks away from the Lord. In fact, the brethren are encouraged to “mark them that are causing the divisions and occasions of stumbling, contrary to the doctrine which ye learned: and turn away from them” (Romans 16:17). To lead one away from the Lord’s will is indeed a most serious and solemn matter.
In the Day of Judgment all people will be concerned with whether or not they made the right moral and spiritual choices and whether or not they led correctly! May we all be able in that day to say as did the apostle Paul, “For I am already being offered, and the time of my departure is come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give to me at that day; and not to me only, but also to all them that have loved his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6-8). May leaders of God’s people be committed to fighting the good fight, finishing the course, and keeping the faith “which was once for all delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3).
Please e-mail me (Marvin L. Weir) if you have any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
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