Life of Christ 43
The best homiletics textbook in the world is the Bible because in that Book we find the record of the best preacher, Jesus. One of the features that marked His preaching was authority (Mark 1.22, Matthew 7.29) and that authoritative preaching was powerful preaching.
Jesus spent much of his first year traveling through Galilee and preaching in various synagogues of a Sabbath. One day, after preaching in Capernaum, Luke records that 'they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power' (Luke 4.32). This is the twin passage to Mark 1.22, and a careful student will notice that the word 'authority' is missing and has been replaced with the word 'power.' I believe every word in the Bible was carefully and purposefully chosen. In choosing to change those words from one gospel to another, God is teaching us that there is a direct connection between authoritative, scriptural preaching and powerful preaching.
Preaching is supposed to be powerful. Paul said in I Corinthians 1.18, 'For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.' This kind of preaching has the power to produce in people a deep sense of specific sin. It has the power to move people to stop something, start something, change something, or decide something. It has the power to break through whatever walls and defenses the sinful heart of the listener had previously erected.
John the Baptist preached authoritatively with power. 'And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord' (Luke 1.17).
The Apostles in the early Church preached authoritatively with power. 'And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus and great grace was upon them all' (Acts 4.33).
Paul preached authoritatively with power. 'And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom; but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:' (I Corinthians 2.4).
There are several different aspects to preaching with power, but one of the absolute necessities is a holy and fearless boldness based upon the fact that you aren't speaking your own opinion, but rather giving the people exactly what God has said. Wishy washy speechifying, in which everybody and their brother's opinion is presented as equally valid, changes very few people. By definition, there cannot be a trumpet clarion call to change when everybody is an authority. But confident, assertive preaching, grounded firmly on the authority of God's Word, changes all kinds of people.
Beloved, don't fence your preacher in. Don’t tell him to quiet down. Don't tell him to relax. Don't tell him to lighten up. Don't get mad at him when he expresses a confident and assertive statement about something you are doing wrong that must needs be changed and fixed. When he challenges you, challenge yourself. Don't run from such authoritative preaching. Don't resist it. Instead, welcome it open arms, and embrace it warmly.
Some will say, in response, 'But what balances this? In your scenario what prevents my preacher from becoming a dictator that essentially runs roughshod over everybody?' My answer is simple. You do. How? By constantly checking what he is preaching against the Book. When a church is filled with Bereans, who are always searching the scriptures whether the things they are hearing from the pulpit are so or not (Acts 17.11), the wrong tendencies of a preacher are held in check by the very thing that allows him such authority – the Word of God.
Jesus was the best preacher the world has ever seen, and one of the great keys to this was that He preached with authority. Yes, it often rubbed people the wrong way, but it was tied tightly to Scripture, and it was powerful indeed.
If you would like to hear the audio version of this blog you may find it here on our church website. Just press 'launch media player' and choose We Preach Christ 18, 'He Taught Them As One That Had Authority'.