There is no higher privilege in all of creation than the call to preach the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. To be granted the opportunity to share with others the great claims and challenges of the scriptures is not to be taken lightly. With this being said one must never forget one’s fidelity to integrity. The authenticity of one’s preaching hangs on the character of the preacher and the integrity of the preacher’s proclamation. Whenever the preacher prepares for public discourse there are two critical questions that must be raised. The first is whether or not one has been led to the text by the Holy Spirit as opposed to simply selecting a passage that appeals to one’s bias. The second interrogative one must raise is the issue of whether or not one truly believes what the text is propagating. One cannot preach with passion and authenticity if one does not deeply embrace what that scripture is seeking to convey. Integrity and character can never be divorced from the preacher’s person as well as his or her proclamation.
“Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us!”
These are the words of Luke – the third Gospel writer in canonical New Testament writ. Luke was a close friend and companion of the Apostle Paul, and as a Greek, is the only Gentile author in the New Testament. What he says in the dawning verse of his thoughtful gospel has always intrigued me. It is Luke’s desire to set forth in print his understanding of our Lord’s life and work based upon the certainty of convictions well entrenched in the body of Christian believers and held as true and undeniable. Luke writes around A.D. 60 about thirty years following the earthly ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. While he certainly along with Matthew had a copy of Mark’s gospel before him, does not preclude the fact that Luke is seeking to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ in such a way that allows for those who read it to get a clear and comprehensive understanding of what Christians undeniably believe. In other words, Luke is suggesting in this one pregnant verse that what one is about to read exceeds conjecture and is agreed upon by those who have chosen to follow the Galilean and trumpet His message. To read Luke’s account of the Carpenter from Nazareth is to hear the heart and mind of one who truly believes Jesus is the Christ and the universal sacrifice of all humankind.
Christian preaching aught never be void of passion. There is nothing more disheartening than listening to a passionless preacher! The passion of the preacher has at its root the sense that the preacher really believes what he or she preaches. As was told to me long years ago in the morning of my ministry by a seasoned preacher – “You are always on firm ground when preaching certainties!”
Among the many challenges facing the pulpit today are two in my thinking. The first is the problem of capitulating to the culture – preaching those popular themes that create crowds, but do little to help in crises. The second problem is on the heels of the first – preaching for effect or effectiveness. Preaching with integrity demands that one always seeks to be effective in Gospel proclamation and not simply for effect.
Every believer in Jesus Christ and any preacher of His gospel must beg the question – “What do I really believe?” “In my heart of hearts, do I really believe what I am declaring?” These are the critical questions with which one must wrestle whenever we stand to declare His word. What are the Christian convictions “most surely believed among us today?”
Dr. Charles E. Booth