A SERIOUS WORD TO EVERY MAN WHO OCCUPIES A PULPIT
So long as earth shall stand a spiritual war will continually rage between Satan and Christ; between the disciples of Jesus and those of Beelzebub (John 8:44). Christ has armed us for the battle (Eph. 6:13-18). He charges us to be “strong in the Lord, and in the strength of his might” (Eph. 6:10), to “fight the good fight of the faith” (I Tim. 6:12).
In the eyes of the world, the typical preacher is the last man you would choose to be a “good soldier.” They might be good counselors, good speakers, good organizers, good entertainers, but most lack the inner strength, courage and determination to make a useful soldier. Yet when we consider the Scripture, the preacher, as a solider in the army of Christ, is an oft used metaphor. Thus Paul wrote to Timothy, “Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (II Tim. 2:3). This illustrates just how unlike the average denominational preacher is to the true soldier of Christ.
Unfortunately, the world’s concept of a preacher has crept into the Master’s church, especially in the ministerial training programs of some of our universities. When preachers, formed and shaped in this distorted mold, work with congregations, the failure of their training soon becomes evident. While they may shine in their office, in counseling, in after-dinner speeches at civic clubs, at weddings and funerals, when Satan marshals his troops at their door, they wilt like tender flowers in the burning sun. They have no courage, no will to stand up and fight the good fight for Jesus. Sin and error can flourish in the presence and they preach over, under and around it. If they are personally challenged, they will hide and try to avoid the battle, they will sue for peace and offer to compromise, but to stand fast in the faith and fight for Christ’s way (I Cor. 15:58) is beyond them. This explains some of the difficulties now besetting many of our congregations.
In a day when the Roman Catholic Church exercised near universal power in Europe, when she kept her power by crushing and destroying dissenters, young Martin Luther stood up and challenged her teaching and practices. Authorities would have made quick work of the young upstart had not God extended his providential protection to him. In the face of enemies who would eagerly burn him at the stake, he proclaimed the truths he had found in God’s Word. His thrilling story should be read by every man who assays to preach. To understand how this lowly monk was able to challenge the most powerful institution of his day, to scorn their threats and attempts to destroy him, to smash the chains with which she held men in spiritual bondage, to liberate them to follow Jesus, we need to hear his view about his duty as a preacher. Luther explained:
“If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, then I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing him. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all the battlefront beside is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at the point” (Martin Luther).
Today, the church is under attack by foes within and without. Jesus and his kingdom are short of brave men of God who are able and willing to fight the good fight of the faith. Preachers He has; it is “good soldiers” that are lacking. My brother in Christ, as this war rages, what would your classification be?
By John Waddey
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