Preaching Like Paul – R.L. Burns

R.L. Burns

I charge thee in the sight of God, and of Christ Jesus, who shall judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom; preach the word; be urgent in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and teaching…. But be thou sober in all things, suffer hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill thy ministry (2 Tim. 4:1, 2, 5).

The words which form the introduction to this treatise are from the pen of Paul, the apostle. With the exception of Jesus Christ, he is probably the greatest preacher that ever walked upon the sands of time. I know that most people who lay claim to being Christians, or who believe the Bible is Divine, also think of him as great. Often I hear them say, “If only everyone would preach what Paul preached and with his spirit then there would be no division among professed followers of Christ.” With this statement we agree, and give it a hearty Amen! His way is our way. Now, let us make this proposition: If we will agree to confine our preaching to that of Paul, both in spirit and content, will you agree to obey that teaching? Let us look first at the…

Spirit of Paul

We are sure that love characterized this great personality, and that no trace of rancor or hatred for men ever evidenced itself in his life. The great classic, I Corinthians 13, familiar to us in word, though not in deed, suggests the vast importance he attached to this ingredient of life. Read the chapter in your own Bible. We suggest, too, gentle reader, that you read his sermon to Agrippa (Acts 26) and his fervent plea to Philemon to forgive his run-away slave. These and many other cases express the outpouring of love which Paul had—genuine concern—for others.

But this love was not the soft spirit of sentimentalism so often mistaken for it today in organized religion and among the masses. Because of love for souls, Paul could not refrain his tongue from crying out against the diabolic evils of his own day, as men distorted and destroyed worship and service toward the one true God, Jehovah. To Christians he warns: “But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema” (Gal. 1:3). To the Athenians he says: “I perceive that ye are very religious…what therefore ye worship in ignorance, this I set forth unto you” (Acts 17:22-23). He continues in this same chapter to not only teach about Jehovah “that made the world and all things therein” but pressed upon them the truth that “He is (not) served by men’s hands” and “we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and device of man.” Paul was not captivated by this modern craze for “positive thinking” but condemned error wherever he found it. At Athens, had he been content to merely tell them of Jehovah without condemning their own practices of idolatry, they might very well have listed the name of this “other god” Jehovah, along with the many they already had. We must not only plant seeds of truth, but also uproot the error, if we would obey Christ and imitate Paul. Having seen the spirit of this apostle, let us look next at the…

Message of Paul

He preached a message of faith, which comes through hearing the word (Rom. 10:17). In the absence of testimony, (the word of God) there can be no faith. That which you believe in religion must come from the Bible. This is not a dead faith, (Jas. 2:24, 26) but is a faith which “works through love” (Gal. 5:6). A dead faith, one which does not work, can no more take you to heaven, than a dead horse can take you to town. One is as worthless as the other. Faith, the kind Paul preached, always acts upon testimony. For example, when the scriptures say that “By faith Noah….prepared an ark” (Heb. 11:7) it simply means that God spoke, Noah heard, (faith comes by hearing) and Noah obeyed (faith working through love) and God blessed him at the point of obedience (faith without works is dead) and “faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect” (Jas. 2:22). Remember too that one cannot act upon the silence of God, for what he cannot hear cannot produce faith that works.

Paul preached a message of repentance, saying, “The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked; but now he commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent” (Acts 17:30). Repentance is a change of will that is manifested in a changed life (Matt. 21:28-30). John, the Baptizer, illustrates this when impenitent Jews came to be baptized by him. His scathing rebuke demands they produce works answering to repentance, saying, “Bring forth therefore fruit worthy of repentance” (Matt. 3:8). Repentance is the pivotal point in man’s conversion. If he will change his mind in respect to disobedience, the changed life will follow.

This apostle preached a message of baptism, not “as an outward sign of an inward grace” or “because God for Christ’s sake has pardoned our sins” but as the means of entering Christ where salvation is enjoyed (2 Tim. 2:10). Search as you may, you will find only two (2) passages in all that Holy Book that tells one how to get i-n-t-o Christ. “Baptized into Christ” (Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:27) while 1 Corinthians 12:13 teaches the same truth, it is not so plain and specific as these. There is not another verse that tells you how to enter Christ, and these two say that it is by baptism. Not only is this true, but there is but one baptism (Eph. 4:4).

The apostle Paul teaches purity of life (Rom. 6:1-7); steadfastness in service (1 Cor. 16:8) and unity in truth (1 Cor. 1:10). Only one thing can be worse than religious division and that is unity in error (2 Cor. 6:17-19).

If this is the preaching of Paul, we urge you to obey it, for Christ is unto all them that obey him the “author of eternal salvation” (Heb. 5:9).

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Author: Editor

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