Andrew M. Connally
In his book, The Heart Of The New Testament (Vol. II), I. Hester depicts the preaching of John the Baptist by saying:
What must have been the reactions of the multitudes as they heard this fiery prophet cry out to the scribes and priests of Jerusalem, ‘You off-spring of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?’ It was plain to see that a man as well as a prophet had appeared in Israel, one who stood unabashed before those in high stations, who understood the weaknesses of the men of his day, and who had the courage to lay them bare. A new era had dawned, a time of pulsing reality instead of dry rabbinism or vague apocalypticism. John struck the moral nerve and it twitched.
Yes, John was God’s kind of preacher! Like the prophets of old, his message was pointed and powerful. He preached on sin and righteousness, judgment and repentance, forgiveness and conviction. He plucked the strings of the human heart and it twitched!
Men today need boldly to oppose the hedonistic philosophy of our times. We need to challenge the axioms and lives of our brethren and the world. We need to use the Word of God to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable!
So much of the clap-trap coming from pulpits is nothing more than warmed over pablum and it is nauseating to adults! We need “strong meat” to be men.
Like John, our preaching needs to arouse the people. “Ye offspring of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” (Luke 3:7). We need to get a response from our audiences. They may react in anger or with tears—so be it! Either way, the job is getting done. Good hearts will repent, evil ones will harden and the line is drawn. Men will search their consciences and obey or disobey, but they will have confronted God in their lives and that is what preaching is all about.
We need to expose error. If truth is not polemic, then half its power is gone. A lot of men say, “That’s just not my way”; well, it was the way of John, the Prophets, and the Lord! What greater preaching has ever been done than this? A lot of preachers are afraid of their elders, members, wives, and children, and, therefore, they refuse to fight the error they know exists in their own congregations, deceiving themselves and thereby deceiving others and all go tripping into hell together. Shake ‘em up, wake ‘em up, move ‘em out, so God’s will and way can be clear in an age of foggy, dim, and unclear thoughts, doctrines, and ideals. Christianity is not myopic, mysterious mysticism. It is plain, clear, bold, aggressive, daring, and logical. And may the Devil take those who teach otherwise, for they misrepresent the truth. No one denies or would overlook the “truth spoken in love,” but this demands we speak the truth, all the truth, and only the truth, so help us God! It emphatically does not teach the pseudo-unity in diversity claptrap of our day or the insipid indefiniteness so often heard.
Time-servers, crowd-pleasers, actors, P.R. men, and pep-rally enthusiasts are not Prophets or Preachers. They are what their names imply—and they are hirelings! But God’s men touch the heart, prick the conscience, step on toes, “root up and destroy” every evil, error, and untruth they confront. They are true to the book and in a hurry! Their time is limited and they have a job to do that they can never get done and they know it. They must strengthen and build as strongly and as fast as humanly possible, for their part in the great drama of life will soon be over. Like John, and so many before them, their time may be shortened and they must fulfill their ministry, accomplish their work and finish their course.
Jesus’ evaluation of John was: “Of men born of women, none was greater” than John! What a glorious tribute to a great preacher. We can ask for nothing more than to be found numbered among such great men.
May God help us to be His preachers of the hour.