This is a special encouragement to PREACHERS.
Many times as preachers, we are tempted to skip over parts of the Bible we feel are not palatable for a modern audience. We may give in to the fear of man at times and shrink back from declaring the whole counsel of God’s Word. Yet, in order to be faithful as ministers of the gospel, God has commissioned us to preach in season and out of season regardless of how people may receive our message. Paul testifies in Acts 20:7: “For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.” In 2 Timothy 4:2, he admonished Timothy to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.”
In a culture that disdains truth claims and holds suspicion against any type of outside authority, we as preachers find ourselves in a precarious position. How do we faithfully declare the whole counsel of God’s Word and preach hard truths both in season and out of season? How do we fight the temptation to give into the fear of man? Where is our ultimate confidence as preachers?
This past week I came across a passage in Isaiah 51 that historically and contextually does not address the issue of preaching per se, but I do believe it has a powerful application for us today.
In Isaiah 51:12 the sovereign Lord asserts, “I, I am he who comforts you; who are you that you are afraid of man who dies, of the son of man who is made like grass.” In other words, “Preacher, why are you afraid of what people will think when you preach the truth?”
God provides a compelling answer to our fears as preachers in 51:15-16: “I am the Lord your God, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar— the Lord of hosts is his name. And I have put my words in your mouth and covered you in the shadow of my hand, establishing the heavens and laying the foundations of the earth, and saying to Zion, ‘You are my people.’ ”
As God’s chosen instrument to proclaim His truth, God promises to put His Word in our mouths. And this Word is performative in that it accomplishes something in the hearts of our hearers. What is the power by these “words”? The God who created the seas and waves and flung the stars into the heavens, is the same God who gives you the Word to preach.
And we have two very important confidences when we faithfully declare God’s Word. First of all, He promises to cover us in the shadow of His hand. God will protect you. This does not necessarily mean that everyone will like what you have to say or that you will never experience conflict as a result of your preaching. It does mean that God will be a strong tower of refuge in your preaching ministry.
Secondly, we have the confidence that God has chosen us as His people. We have been predestined, called, adopted, justified, and redeemed into God’s family as His special possession. Our identity in preaching does not come in our personality, charisma, or rhetorical skills. Instead, our identity comes in knowing that we are in Christ and our heavenly Father owns us as His own.
So, pastor, the next time you preach and you’re hesitant to proclaim hard truths from the pulpit, remember your confidence comes from God putting His very Word in your mouth through the sacred text. He promises to bless your preaching. He promises to bring about the regeneration of lost sinners and the sanctification of saints through your preaching. He promises to hide you in His powerful hands. He has called you by name as His own.
May I encourage us to preach with confidence. Preach with power. Preach with diligence. And preach with faith in an Almighty God who promises to do what only a sovereign God can do—change hearts through the power of the gospel.