Thursday, March 24, 2016

Preaching with authority

In the 1940s Billy Graham was a young evangelist who was beginning to have questions about the authority of the Bible. A number of theologians were questioning that authority and Graham began to have doubts. He began studying the subject because he knew he could not continue his ministry if he could not be certain of the authority of the Scriptures he was preaching.

One night he went outside, opened his Bible, placed it on a tree stump and began to pray. In his prayer he told God that he even though there were things he did not understand he would accept the Scriptures as the Word of God by faith. When he finished his prayer he never again doubted God's Word. Interestingly enough, this occurred about one month before his Los Angeles crusade which launched his ministry.

Graham was well known for saying "The Bible says...." throughout his messages. The foundation of his preaching was the Bible, and this is what gave his messages the power and authority they had. His absolute confidence in the Scriptures enabled him to preach with passion resulting in large numbers of people coming to faith in Jesus Christ.

The authority of the Bible must also be the foundation that supports our preaching. Man's wisdom and philosophy cannot change a person's heart. Only the Word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword and able to divide even the soul and spirit of a person. Only biblical truth can convict a person of his or her need for a Savior.

Some preachers believe they must water down the Gospel in order to reach more people. Studies have found that is not true. Formerly unchurched people report that one of the things that attracted them to the churches they eventually began attending was strong, biblically based messages that did not compromise the teachings of Scripture.

The apostle Paul told Timothy, "Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching." His word is for those of us today who preach as well. Preach the word! Preach it with authority as one who believes that Word has been inspired by God. Only such preaching will change a person's life.

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