he heartfelt cry of the believer and the secular person alike in the 21st century is for a presentation of truth that will make a profound difference in life.
In spiritual terms, that means a message from someone who knows what the Bible says and who shares it in the power of the Holy Spirit. The sharp rebuke of Jesus to the would-be preachers and teachers of His day was, “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power
of God” (Matt. 22:29 NKJV). As in His times, the need of the hour is for preachers who know the Word and who deliver its eternal and unchanging truths under the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
That kind of preaching is relevant and life-changing in today’s world.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones said:
I can forgive a man for a bad sermon, I can forgive the preacher almost anything if he gives me a sense of God, if he gives me something for my soul, if he gives me the sense that, though he is inadequate himself, he is handling something which is very great and very glorious, if he gives me some dim glimpse of the majesty and the glory of God, the love of Christ my Savior, and the magnificence of the gospel. If he does that I am his debtor, and I am profoundly grateful to him.
Called to Preach
How do you know if you are called to preach? For me, the call of God can best be described as an unmistakable, inescapable, irresistible, inner compulsion and constraint; a sense of absolute urgency and necessity to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. Scripturally, it is probably best expressed by Paul: “For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Cor. 9:16).
The call of God came to me on Sunday night, November 23, 1983, at the Conn Center on the Lee University campus. I had transferred to Lee the University of Denver as a premed major on an academic scholarship, hoping to complete my studies, continue to medical school, and become a cardiovascular surgeon. But God had other plans for me.
On the surface, things were going great for me, but inwardly I was miserable and dying. That Sunday night in chapel, Lee president Dr. Ray H. Hughes preached a sermon on Calvary, “What Does the Cross Mean to You?” As the Holy Spirit brought me face-to-face with the Cross,
I saw Jesus in all the glory of His passion. I saw myself and all my pitiful attempts to direct my own life. But I also saw a world that was lost and hopelessly dying. In broken repentance I cried out, “God, why do you need me? You have Ray Hughes, T. L. Lowery, Billy Graham, Steve Brock, and all those other preachers. I have no talent, nothing to offer You. But if You will help me to hide Your Word in my heart, I will go where You want me to go, I will be what You want me to be, I will say what You want me to say.”
With simplicity and sincerity, I accepted God’s call and that vivid experience—as real to me as my conversion-has served as a point of reassurance through years of ministry.
In my understanding, the call to preach follows a Trinitarian formula: The authority to preach comes from God the Father (“As the Father has sent me, I also send you” [John 20:21]); the message preached is Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; and the power for preaching is the anointing of the Holy Spirit. This frames a theology of preaching that encompasses the God who speaks, the Son who saves, and the Spirit who empowers.
No Better Way
Voices arise from time to time suggesting there ought to be a better way to communicate the gospel than preaching. Surely with all the new technology that exists, they say, someone should come up with a new way for the church to maintain itself and proclaim its message. But, according to Scripture, “It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (1 Cor. 1:21). Preaching is God’s plan. Those who look for an alternative are usually young believers who do not know better or old believers with poor memories.