Keep Swinging the Bat, Preacher!
Keep Swinging the Bat!
Let me assume that you have been called to preach. You are an ambassador. You have the King's authority to deliver his message. You have the Divine promise that Christ will speak through you. If he doesn't speak through the preaching, all that is heard is the sound of a man's voice. This is of no avail. We live in a time in the West when preaching is thought to have failed if it hasn't filled the church or the preacher doesn't have a number of scalps under his belt. The Lord knows how we have all felt the power of our failure in our preaching. And we have all had those times when we vowed to never to preach again. There has never been a preacher born of a woman who never felt that way, except perhaps the Lord Jesus Christ himself. No, you're not alone, we have all been there. We have got the T-shirt as well. But just like us, you will go back and back and back again—if God has called you. You just keep swinging the bat. But if you are to persevere in the preaching, it is imperative to understand the divine purpose in the preaching of his word.
The Intent in the Preaching of God's Word
What is God's intention in this great calling? It is to gather, redeem, deliver, and free his elect. It is to establish his covenant with his sheep. For this, he has entrusted us with his word, Holy Scripture. The words were divinely conceived and have God for their content. It's a self-revelation from him. It is his given word alone that we have authority to proclaim. Objectively, he has given us the Bible and he has preserved it as promised. Subjectively, by his Spirit, he has given us his word in our hearts (John 16:13-14). The Holy Spirit is the Author of the word and uses nothing else in the fulfilling of God's purpose. His ultimate aim is a new heaven and new earth in which his elect will dwell. But to get there, the very last of God's children has to be called, justified, sanctified. The entire body of Christ has to be filled up. And this takes place by the preaching of God's word.
This saving effect we like to speak of, but it is only one side of the coin. The ungodly world must be disinherited and fitted for destruction. In order for this to be fulfilled, the world must be ripened for judgment and condemnation. Only then, when faced with the righteous judgement of God, can the reprobate be eternally destroyed. What is the connection? The preaching of God's word also accomplishes this. The preaching of the gospel, your preaching, is a two-edged sword: “For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things? “ (2Corinthians 2:15-16). "Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth" (Romans 9:18).
One is ripened for salvation. The other for damnation. God has promised to use his word to this end. But only the word of God can accomplish it. Nothing else.
The Faithful Preaching of God's Word
It is the faithful preaching of God's word that will bring you all manner of strife. It is a dangerous and hard road that you travel upon. It is not for men-pleasers, nor for dandy's nor snowflakes. It cost John the Baptist his head: "And when the messengers of John were departed, he began to speak unto the people concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness for to see? A reed shaken with the wind? But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they which are gorgeously apparelled, and live delicately, are in kings' courts. But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet" (Luke 7:24-26).
You will incur the wrath of men and of devils, you will be reproached, reviled, made to suffer, and be persecuted. You will maybe face death, even. The faithful preaching of the word will get you souls, maybe, but it will get you enemies for certain. Both in and out of churches. The world lies in wickedness (1 John 5:19). It is of the devil. The lost will do his will. The world hates what you stand for and what you preach. Do not be surprised at this. It is normal.
If, that is, you remain faithful to the word of God. When you incur such hatred of men you must remember what it did to Christ, your Master. Also to his apostles. And why? Because they were faithful in preaching God's word. Read the heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11. Read your church history about the Waldensians and the Scottish Covenanters. Read Foxe's Book of Martyrs. Faithful men and women have been slain. Their blood cries out from under the alter for vindication: "And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?" (Revelation 6:9).
Of course, you can take the pressure off, you can tamper with and twist the word of God. Or you can outright deny the word of God. The world will agree with you if you do. They will love you. But if you are faithful to preach God's literal six-day creation, preach against sin and sodomy, if you clearly define God's institution of marriage, preach the sovereign grace of God that saves apart from works of any kind—then they will hate you, vilify you, and curse you. But God's hand of protection will be upon you. At worst they may kill you and send you to heaven, but no more after this: "fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matthew 10:28).
May God bless his preachers of righteousness and keep them bold and strong in the power of his might, and may his sovereign and ultimate purpose be soon fulfilled. Men! Keep swinging the bat. "Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus" (Revelation 22:20).
Jimmy Hamilton aka The Street Preacher