‘. . . I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.’ –1 Corinthians 9:16
Even a cursory reading of the Acts of the Apostles clearly shows the zeal the Apostle Paul had for preaching the gospel. The man was relentless. He went far, fast, and furious with the gospel. He told the Romans that he hoped to visit them on his way to Spain, what many considered then to be the end of the world (Romans 15:24). He told the Corinthians that the love of Christ controlled, compelled him (2 Corinthians 5:14). He told the Romans that he was under obligation to preach the gospel. Why? Because he knew it was the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believed (Romans 1:14-16). And he told the church at Corinth that he was under compulsion to preach. He must preach. It was the driving force in his ministry. He risked his life times without number to proclaim Jesus and Him crucified as the only means of salvation and deliverance from sin, Satan, and death.
Are you called to be a preacher? Many of you reading this, of course, are not called to preach the gospel. You are, however, to evangelize, but I am not choosing to deal with that issue at this time. But for those of you reading this who are in the ordained, pastoral ministry, consider this question-how many times per week do you preach? Due to the secularization of our culture and the diminishing appetite for preaching, most churches have jettisoned the Sunday night service, as well as the mid-week prayer meeting which typically had another sermon before the prayer time. So most pastors preach once per week. If this is your practice, then here’s a serious question for your consideration-are you really called to preach? Paul could not keep silent. Can you imagine Paul waiting for Sunday to preach his one sermon per week? Of course not. A real preacher has fire in his bones, like Jeremiah, and he grows exceedingly weary of holding it in. He must preach. One sermon per week will just not get it done for a preacher called by God. He can never be content with one sermon. He must find other avenues to preach the unfathomable riches of Christ.
Argumentum ad absurdum (argument to absurdity) is an age old rhetorical device. Consider the following from my friend Tom Rayborn in the context of preaching:
Imagine a doctor. He has spent years studying and preparing to apply his medical skills to those who are ill. He graduates, gets his M.D. degree. Now he opens his practice.
You go by his office one day and see that his office is open for forty-five minutes each week. You wonder why he would go to all of the study and preparation and yet he only comes out to formally practice his skills for less than one hour a week.
So you wait for him to open his office for that brief period and ask him why he only opens his office for forty-five minutes a week. He tells you that the rest of the week he is at another location, reading up on new discoveries and research, that he is meeting with fellow doctors to talk about medicine, and of course he is at the gym and the golf course. But he is not helping the sick and dying to get healed. In fact, when you question him further, though he initially studied to be prepared to help sick people get well, he would rather hang around fellow doctors and read his medical journals. “Sick people are messy and are a hassle,” he finally admitted.
So it is with 99% of pastors who claim that they are called to preach the gospel. They do it for thirty to forty-five minutes each week. The rest of the time they are buried in their offices and on the phone and or meeting with other pastors. But they will not go out to where the lost are and preach. They will not get out of their offices to go after the lost. They don’t care about the lost. They are not called to preach. They should greet at Walmart or pump gas, anything but pretend that they are called to preach the gospel.
George Whitefield said that he must preach six days of the week to prepare himself to preach on Sunday.
A man truly called to preach the gospel will also be out among the lost, the perishing, those without Christ and a mere breath from an eternal hell. O Pastor, why are you so lazy in reaching the lost? You grow fat and sleek, you have your well-oiled machine going. You are respected, but the lost around you are perishing. You are a contradiction to the ministry if you have no time or interest in getting out of your comfort zone to reach the lost.
I understand the necessity for seclusion to pray and seek the Lord, to study the scriptures and prepare the sermon. I realize that there is ministry within the church body. But our offices and seclusion can become an excuse to stay out of the field, to stay away from the lost, to neglect the command to go and reach the lost with the gospel.
If God has truly given you the gift of preaching, then get out there and use it. There are plenty of places where you may preach the saving gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the week. There are homeless shelters, radio stations, street corners, campuses, etc. If you are willing, God will give you places. But the true man of God, the Pastor, the Elder, cannot be silent in reaching the lost and proclaiming the saving gospel of God. Go door to door and share the gospel. But go! Run to the lost and perishing and carry the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ alone.
Go after the lost, call them to Jesus. Seek to win the perishing for Christ with all of your strength (2 Timothy 2:12, 2 Corinthians 12:15, Proverbs 24:11,12, 11:30, Daniel 12:3, Malachi 2:6, Colossians 1:28,29, Romans 1:14-16).1
- From my friend Pastor Tom Rayborn, Redeeming Grace Church, Alton, Illinois, April 14, 2017
Al Baker is an Evangelistic Revival Preacher with Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship
Helpful Resources for Those Exploring a Call to the Ministry
And the Calling of the Ministry
‘. . . I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.’ –1 Corinthians 9:16 Even a cursory reading of the Acts of the Apostles clearly shows the zeal the Apostle Paul had for preaching […]