The Need for First Principles – Gene Hill

Gene Hill

One of the things I find most fascinating about preaching is that after preaching a basic first principle sermon, the number of more mature Christians thank me and comment on how much such a lesson was needed. I have always wondered why those with the years of experience they possess would say such a thing. I have concluded that the answer is a very simple one. Their years of experience and maturity have led them to conclude that we need constant reminders we are “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people” (1 Pet. 2:9), that we once were “without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12), and that we, the faithful, “shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 The. 4:17).

In support of this premise let us consider three passages. The first was written by Paul, to the Roman church, a church that had apparently been in existence for a while. It had to have had sufficient time for its faith to be “spoken of throughout the whole world” (Rom. 1:8). Their obedience as well was apparently well-known (16:19). Paul had been familiar with them and had long desired to meet them (1:13; 15:23). Such being true then we find it a curious thing that he still wanted to preach the Gospel to them (1:15; 1 Cor. 15:1-4; Col. 1:5). The need for the church to hear the Gospel preached to them on a regular basis is not diminished with the passage of time.

Paul’s next passage is 1 Timothy 3:15 in which his express purpose was to remind Timothy how to behave himself. Paul left Timothy behind in Ephesus with the intention of doing precisely the same thing for the Ephesian brethren, which he was desirous to do for the Roman church (1 Tim 1:3-7). It must be the case then that preachers also need reminding on occasion.

The last passage is from Revelation 2:1-5 and is Jesus admonishing the Ephesian church. The brethren apparently heeded well Timothy’s preaching regarding faithfulness (2:2-3). Their doctrinal and practical soundness had been such that Jesus commended them. The problem for which He chided them was a problem of the heart and not that of the head. They appear to have lost the fervor of their initial conversion that led to great strides for the Kingdom (Acts 19:8-10, 13-20, 23-27).

The need for First Principle sermons is established when we realize brethren are as afflicted by sins of the flesh as are our worldly neighbors. (1 Cor. 1:10-16; 3:1-3; 5:1-13). Spiritually mature brethren are not so beset by sins of the flesh (Heb. 5:12-14).

Just so we are clear on this point, are the following practices a demonstration of a lover for the Lord and His Body:

Consider attendance at various assemblies of the church and how much figures vary from Sunday morning Bible classes to the morning worship assembly to the Sunday evening worship assembly; the fluctuation of the contribution because of vacations (which deficit frequently is not made up); when Bible classes are put off or even ended for lack of teachers; when elderships cannot be maintained much less constituted because men cannot be bothered to qualify themselves to serve; when congregations and preachers refuse to allow an eldership to be formed because they do not want to be held accountable; and the list goes on.

Why is there an ongoing need for First Principle sermons? Because of brethren that are seeking spiritual growth, brethren that have stopped seeking spiritual growth, and stand in need of spiritual revival.

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Author: Editor

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