Tom Roberts


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Associate Editorial

The Importance of Biblical Preaching


"Preach the word," was Paul's instruction to Timothy, the young evangelist (2 Tim. 4:2). The apostle Peter also said, "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God" (1 Peter 4:11). Though they lived in the "Golden Age of Greece" when philosophy was so prevalent, both of these inspired apostles directed evangelists to base their preaching solidly on God's revealed word. In fact, Paul made direct reference to the difference between human wisdom and divine wisdom when he wrote to the church at Corinth, an ancient pagan city. "Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?" (1 Cor. 1:20). The wisdom of the world did not acknowledge even the existence of God. "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" (v. 21).

The Gentile world had previously rejected the knowledge of the true God and had invented idols and philosophy which elevated man against God. When Paul wrote to the Roman church, in the heart of the empire, he reminded them that "although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened" (1:21). Please note that mankind, without divine revelation, descends into the depths of immorality. Paul said, "Professing to be wise, they became foolish" (v. 22). Their foolishness was most vividly portrayed in a wicked lifestyle that included every vile thing. Paul's list of their sins begins in verse 29: "...being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but also approve of those who practice them" (vv. 29-32).

It is worth repeating: mankind, without divine revelation, descends into the depths of immorality. It was so in the days of Rome; it is true today. Apart from the wisdom that comes from God, mankind becomes filled with immorality. The Bible, and the Bible alone, contains the wisdom of God that directs our ways and elevates man out of darkness. There can be no more evidence of wisdom than that of depending on divine revelation in our preaching. It is not wise to use human creeds as a basis for doctrine. It is not wise to use philosophy as a basis for human morality. It is not wise to use science as a basis for faith. "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17).

We Need The Bible For Guidance

Jeremiah, the prophet, said, "It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps" (10:23 ). The Psalmist added: "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path" (119:105). In an age of advanced technology and science, many may find it difficult to admit that man needs guidance in any area of his life. But unless we are careful, the more knowledge we have, the less advanced we really are. It is possible to worship at the altar of technology and become idolatrous in our intelligence. We can make the same mistake as the ancient Gentiles and give up the knowledge of God in exchange for a lie: that man does not need God! For example: man has the medical science at his fingertips to practice abortion right up to, and including, the final trimester of pregnancy. But what does it say about us when over one million abortions take place each year without regard to the moral issue of taking innocent life? How can anyone be so warped in mind and soul that protestations are made against killing dolphins and whales while encouraging abortions of innocent babes? Why is it moral to kill a baby in the womb, but immoral to kill an animal for food? We need divine guidance to see the value of the soul. "For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:26)? Those who espouse humanism and atheistic evolution have turned away from God and divine revelation and have a strangle hold on education in America. All references to moral values in public schools have been excised to the point that children are without moral direction and guidance. The result is chaos in the class room and the street. Truly, we need the wisdom of God for guidance in these troubled times.

The Result of Biblical Wisdom

David acknowledged the source of his wisdom: "I have more understanding than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation" (Psalms 119:99). Thus, those who trust in the Bible have access to wisdom far above that of man. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isa. 55:9). If we would be wise, we should seek wisdom from the word of God: "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him" (James 1:5).

The person who trusts in God's word is led by a wisdom greater than his own. How foolish for people to trust "Dr. Phil" or "Dr. Ruth," when they spout pop-psychology which is often slanted to enhance television ratings. Is the true standard of morality a TV guru of the moment, or the Bible? Shall we entrust our souls to a television personality or to Jesus Christ? What is the origin of man? What is his destiny? What happens to man when he dies? Is there life beyond the grave? What shall we do about our sins? Can we really have eternal life? How do I find the answers to these awesome questions? How can I be sure to find the right way? The Bible, and the Bible alone, has the answers to these vital questions. You can "know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32).

The Bible Answers the Issues of Life

What is the origin of man? Science can only speculate and postulate about theories, but is unable to give us the absolute beginning of man. On the other hand, the Bible reveals by inspiration that "In the beginning, God..." created all things (Genesis 1, 2). In the six days of creation, God exercised power and wisdom in successive creative acts that culminated with the inhabited earth. Man was the highest act of God's creation, given life instantaneously and miraculously.

What is his destiny? God made man to live in the Garden, to flourish, and to "replenish the earth" (Genesis 1:28), but man went astray from God's purpose by the temptation of Satan (chapter 3). When they ate of the forbidden fruit, our fore-parents died spiritually (separated from God's fellowship) and began to die physically. The explanation of human suffering is explained by the intrusion of sin into the human race. But death is not our destiny, if we are willing to accept the gracious offer of God as given in the prophecy of the "seed of woman" (3:15), a reference to the coming of Christ. What we have lost in Adam, we regain in Christ, through His sacrificial death on the cross. As Jesus was able to raise Lazarus (John 11), he can raise us at the last day (John 5:28-29) and give us eternal life. The poverty of evolution is seen in its inability to give no promise of everlasting life. Friend, which gives you more hope: evolution which promises only a tombstone over your grave, or Jesus Christ who died that you might live?

What happens when he dies? Is there life beyond the grave? All of us have felt the utter futility and helplessness of witnessing a loved one's death. But from death's moment, science is totally ignorant as to the disposition of man. Is death the final end? Does life continue after death? Where does the spirit of man, if one exists, go? Is there life beyond the grave? Human "wisdom" (such as the utter nonsense of those like Shirley McLaine) might postulate recycling of the soul through reincarnation. Or some of the eastern New-Age religions suggest a loss of personality into Nirvana. But they cannot know, for sure. Science, with all its technology, and philosophy, with all its vaunted knowledge, stand mute at death's bedside and can tell us absolutely nothing beyond the final breath. Only the Bible has the answer! Jesus, who "tasted of death for every man" (Hebrews 2:9), is the only One who has been there and back, and who can tell us what really takes place. We find the curtains drawn back and the mystery revealed in such places as Luke 16:19-31, where the death of Lazarus and his destiny is revealed, along with that of the rich man. Matthew 25:31-46 brings to our view the final judgment when Christ will judge all men, both good and evil. 1 Corinthians 15:12-58 assures us of the resurrection and Revelation 21-22 describe the glories of heaven for the saved of God.

What shall we do about our sins? Can we really have eternal life? Science and philosophy cannot tell you what a "sin" is or what to do about it. Science cannot put "sin" in a test tube and analyze it for weight and molecular structure. Philosophy is helpless in addressing sin because there is no absolute standard for morality. There is no agreement among men as to what constitutes "sin." As one Supreme Court judge said, "I cannot define pornography, but I can recognize it when I see it." Relativism and situation ethics blur the definition of sin and are absolutely helpless in its presence. Only divine revelation describes and defines sin and tells you what its consequences are and how to escape the dreadful punishment that sin merits.

"Sin is the transgression of the law" (1 John 3:4). Thus, the Bible is the revelation of absolute truth and relativism is cast aside. What is right and wrong? God's word decides that! Galatians 5:17-21 contrasts the "lusts of the flesh" with the "fruit of the Spirit" (vv. 22-23). The Bible reveals how deadly sin is: "The wage of sin is death" and the "soul that sins shall die" (Romans 6:23; Ezekiel 18:4, 20). We are likewise informed that "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Those who understand the guilt of sin, like Paul, before his conversion, can state: "Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?" (Romans 7:24). Man's helplessness in the face of his sins is apparent. We are in bondage in our sins and hopeless without God's help to escape.

It is at this exact point that the necessity of gospel preaching is clearly seen. "Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?" The gracious response is found in the next verse: "I thank God - through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (v. 25).

Is it any secret, then, that this message must be preached? "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:18-20). Is it any wonder that this is called the Great Commission?

Can we really have eternal life? Yes! You can be saved from your sins and, "though it is appointed unto man once to die" (Hebrews 9:27), we can have eternal life in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

Is Anyone Preaching The Great Commission Today?

Faithful churches of Christ are actively preaching the Great Commission and are reaching out to the community around them with its saving message. We are attempting to communicate the "good news" (gospel) of Christ today, just as it was delivered in the first century.

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