Preaching the Gospel: Presenting the Message - Harold Paisley

Preaching the Gospel: Presenting the Message
Harold S. Paisley

We are not only responsible for the message we preach but also the manner in which we present it. Four articles follow, written by our brethren Paisley, McCandless,Dirksen and Oliver which stress the importance of our presentation of the gospel message as well as the truth we present.

The greatest honor conferred on any man is to be a vessel chosen by God to present the gospel to his own generation. One of the greatest of all gospel preachers stated that at his conversion the risen and exalted Head of the church called him to this noble work. What must have been Paul's thoughts when His new found Lord and Savior said, "I send thee to the Gentiles"? His commission was clear: "To open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive the forgiveness of sins, and an inheritance among them that are sanctified by faith that is in me" (Acts 26:18).

In this statement given by the Lord to Paul is the positive purpose of preaching the blessed gospel of God’s redeeming grace. Some guidelines may be observed which if followed will enhance the presentation of the message. There must be no uncertain sound, no trimming down, no apologies. There must be the plain and simple proclamation of the good news of the gospel. Like the Lord Himself, our message should be given as "one having authority" (Matt 7:29).

The area to be considered in this paper is the public proclamation of the gospel. It is of vital importance to present the gospel "one on one" and silently in our everyday living, but God's supreme way to reach souls is by the preaching of the gospel.

Reverence

Reverence is perhaps one of the most important factors in preaching the gospel. It is neither the manner nor the matter that is effective in making known the message of God but the spirit of the man. An actor can move an audience to tears with unrealities. A preacher could turn them to stone with solemn truths. The doctrine may be true but wanting in reality. Many who are eloquent have never won a soul to Christ. Any God-sent preacher will carry dignity and reverence to the platform. The public reading of the Lord Jesus was reverent. "They marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth" (Luke 4:16-22). He laid the foundation in His public reading of the precious Word of God. There is a grave danger of giving God's Word little place, reading carelessly in haste to speak. All are a poor preface to the presentation of the gospel. The Spirit of the Lord was upon the Lord Jesus in His first public proclamation of the gospel. It is most important to have reverence for the Word and then to preach with the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven (1 Peter 1:12).

Spirituality

The presentation must be spiritual. The handling of spiritual and eternal realities calls for spiritual men with spiritual words. Those who present the gospel must be true men in whom the Spirit of God is not grieved. He must be like Joseph, of whom the world could say, "A man in whom the Spirit of God is." To go unprepared in heart, lightly and carelessly, without deep compassion and the fear of God flooding the soul, will fail to produce lasting results. "Barnabas was full of the Holy Spirit and of faith, and much people were added unto the Lord" (Acts 11:24). Handling the greatest spiritual truths demands Spirit filled men.

Suitability

The presentation must be a message from the Lord, appropriate for the occasion and the type of hearers who are gathered. To go about with one's best sermon, preaching it in all and any occasion, irrespective of the state and condition of the hearer, is trifling and simply professional folly. The spirit of discernment is needed to speak a word in season.

The suitability of Peter's gospel presentation on the day of Pentecost to his Jewish audience and again in the house of Cornelius to a Gentile gathering, contains a wealth of matter to show every gospel preacher how to present suitable words for various types of individuals and conditions. Paul also had the ability to present the gospel which suited the needs of the Jewish synagogue at Antioch in Pisidia and addressed an altogether different audience of heathen idol worshipers on Mars' hill. These men, by their methods of presenting the gospel, turned the world upside down (Acts 17.16). Thousands were saved and added to the Lord.

Their manner of presentation is an example to be examined and followed. Perhaps some will find how far away gospel preaching today has drifted from the first days in "the Acts." We search in vain for story telling, denunciations and loud shouts of hell or emotional calls to take Jesus. It is always the better part to closely adhere to the language of Scripture. This will always have divine authority and will be used by the Spirit in the true awakening and conviction of sinners.

Simplicity

The old hymn states the truth stressed here: "Tell me the story simply, as to a little child." The preparation of the hearts of sinners in our audience is preparatory to the saving message. We must stress that man is a sinner, lost and condemned. We must stress man's ruin. It was for sinners that the Savior carne to die (Luke 19:10; 1 Tim 1:15). This, of course, is not good news but is preparatory to the proclamation of the remedy. Every sinner must own his hopeless condition, his vile estate, his sinful state and his eternal danger. By assuming a right attitude of heart and mind, repentance is evidenced. The sinner is then seeking salvation.

To such a seeking soul, there is no story so sweet as redeeming love expressed in the good news of the gospel, being preached now in the day of grace.

The gospel is the presentation of great facts, unlike all other religions. Faith rests on mighty historical facts with great spiritual blessings. The gospel states, "Christ died for our sins" (Cor 15:3). He was the sin bearer His death was sacrificial. He was the Lamb of God, the world's sin bearer. Those who believe this great truth and have received Him on whom sin was laid can say, "The Son of God loved me, and gave Himself for me" (Gal 2:20).

We present the great doctrines of the faith pertaining to the resurrection, His present glory and His coming again. We preach Christ who once was slain but is alive and able to save and satisfy. The presentation of the gospel has for its central theme, the person, worth and work of our lord Jesus Christ. The preacher who points to Him will surely see souls saved and will refresh the saints, rejoice Divine persons and interest angelic beings. Pointing to Christ on the cross is the story of remission by precious blood. Pointing to Him enthroned in glory is the story of power to live Christ and be preserved. Pointing onward to His coming in the midair to bring saved ones home is the prospect for which we wait. "Christ is all" should be the theme of all who preach the gospel.

Solemnity

Paul's practice was to warn every man and to teach every man when he presented Christ (Col 1:28). When the message of the good news is rejected, there must be a warning note. Sinners must be warned of the serious danger of continuing in sins. God will judge sin (Rom 2:6,16; 6:23). Failing to believe the gospel will add to their many sins the greatest sin of all - rejection of God's Son.

What shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel? How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation? These and other serious questions must be pressed home faithfully, but with deep compassion, lest any hearer would finish in the Lake of Fire. In the matter of hell and eternal punishment, we do not attempt to explain the awfulness beyond the language of Scripture. No servant must apologize nor in any way turn the keen edge of truth. In this presentation of the danger of perishing forever, we must be found faithful witnesses.