By Vernon Eldridge
I can think of several words to describe the appendages at the ends of my legs. None of them is pleasant. The Bible, however, describes feet with a surprising adjective. Isaiah 52:7 and Romans 10:15 describe feet as “beautiful.” This brings a question to mind: What is it that makes feet beautiful?
Isaiah 52:7 provides the answer: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news” (New King James Version). Why are the feet of those who bring good news beautiful?
Think of it like this. Can you imagine life without God? It would be a life without joy, hope, or peace. Sadly, this is the condition of the majority of the world; people are helplessly, hopelessly, heading for an eternity in Hell unless they hear, believe, and obey the good news, the gospel message of Jesus Christ.
The Supreme Importance and Value of Preaching
The world, and sadly many within the church, may not recognize the value of the preacher and his preaching, but God’s Word says, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:15). First Corinthians 1:21 states, “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.” Preaching is of supreme importance and value because preaching declares the “gospel of peace” and is the means by which “it pleased God” to save those who believe.
What a privilege and honor it is to preach the Word of God, the glad tidings of good things, the gospel of peace that saves the believer! The man who has this heavenly high calling would rather preach than eat. Yet the desire, the joy, the call alone is not enough; there must also be a heart that is prepared by God through the Holy Spirit.
The preacher may have oratorical skills, biblical knowledge, and charisma; yet he may not be able to impact the listener’s heart. The preacher who effectively communicates God’s Word must be under the influence of the Holy Spirit, for that is what empowers preaching and makes a sermon come alive.
Preaching is absolutely necessary in the overall plan of God. Without preaching, there would be no focal point for teaching and understanding the things of God.
The dual purpose of preaching is to connect the Word of God to the unsaved who can find salvation and to edify the saved and promote their continued spiritual growth. The preaching of the Word of God through the influence of the Holy Spirit brings faith (see Romans 10:17) to the unbeliever so he can be converted, and strength to the believer so he can grow more and more like Christ.
Where Does God Get His Preachers?
At first glance the question, “Where does God get his preachers?” may seem obvious. Preachers come from Bible colleges. Peruse any number of Christian publications where churches are advertising empty pulpits and their need to fill them, and it will become apparent the primary source of preachers is the Bible college.
But is that what we find in the pages of Scripture? Is the answer really as obvious as it seems? The answer to this question is an important one. After all, the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 10:13, 14, “For ‘whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?”
It’s clear that God uses preachers to stir the hearts of people to call upon him, and then to tell them how they are to call upon him. God requires preachers, so where does he get them?
God calls preachers out of every walk of life, at various times in life, and in a number of ways. Ultimately though, God calls a man in his heart. For this reason, the man who is called by God to preach—whether young, middle age, or old; whether a professional man, a farmer, a factory worker, or a student—must share the same distinct characteristic: a heart like the heart of God. God has in the past, is presently, and will in the future look for men with a heart like his own to use in his ministry.
Consider 1 Samuel 16:7. Samuel was sent to anoint a new king over Israel, “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’”
Therefore, God examines the hearts of men and then his call goes forth within the family of God, the local congregation, for men with a heart like his to be sent forth as preachers. This makes it imperative that preachers serving in the local churches encourage, exhort, and challenge men to consider whether God might be making a call upon their life by stirring their hearts toward preaching. The people of these congregations can be used in this same fashion as well. In the end, it is the local congregation where preachers are born and bred.
Every Local Congregation Should Be a Bible College
Don Cooper, president of Northeast Ohio Bible College in East Liverpool, Ohio, observed, “Every local congregation should be a Bible college.” I agree. I appreciate the fact that Bible colleges take preaching prospects and hone them, sharpen their abilities, train them, and make them better equipped for God’s service in the preaching ministry. But Bible colleges don’t make preachers; they develop men whose hearts are already in tune with God’s.
The local congregation is where preachers are produced. That is the reason it has become such an important focus where I serve. At Main Street Church of Christ in McConnelsville, Ohio, we have begun a ministry we call “The Minute Man Preachers.” Through this ministry we invite young, middle age, and older men to a series of weekly studies to teach them how to study God’s Word and prepare sermons.
Lonnie Bennett, a member of our church, has held ministries in Ohio, Indiana, Kansas, and South Dakota. He has served as an academic administrator with the Ohio Bible Institute, the New Antioch Bible Institute, the Belem Extension Institute in Brazil (while serving as a missionary), and as president of Dakota Bible College. Lonnie helps with the training of our Minute Man preachers.
Once their training is completed, we select three of our Minute Man preachers to preach on the last Sunday of every other month throughout the year. Each man’s sermon is 10 to 15 minutes long. By the end of the year we will have had the privilege of working with 18 to 24 men who will be able to study God’s Word, prepare a solid gospel sermon, and preach a Spirit-filled message that glorifies God in Christ.
The Heart Song of God
In 2006 Warner Brothers produced the animated movie, Happy Feet, about Emperor penguins. In the story line, each Emperor penguin sings a unique song, known as a heart song, to attract a mate. If the male penguin’s heart song matches the female’s song, then the two become life mates.
Preaching is about the heart song of God. If God’s heart song of the gospel matches the heart of the hearer, then a conversion takes place and the two become connected for life.
The apostle Paul asked, “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:14, 15). The answer is both obvious and frightening: They won’t!
Vernon Eldridge is a minister and freelance writer in McConnelsville, Ohio.
But I’m Not the Preacher …
The “Your Role in Expository Preaching” series on Grace to You has a lot to say about the hearers’ role during a sermon. The posts are adapted from Lance Quinn’s Epilogue to Rediscovering Expository Preaching.