I am currently preaching through the Book of Nehemiah. We are only in chapter two, but we are being challenged and blessed by the faith and leadership of God’s builder in 444 BC. Long before our current President spoke of building a wall of protection along the southern border of our country, Nehemiah built a wall that surrounded the city of Jerusalem, and it took him only fifty-two days! I have always been fascinated with buildings and how they are constructed, but God has called pastors to another type of building and that is helping build men and women in their faith.
What is the best way to do that? How can preachers help build their people and grow their churches? Jesus said at the conclusion of His most famous sermon, the Sermon on the Mount: “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock (Matthew 7:24).” The rains, flood, and wind beat violently upon this house; however, because it was firmly established on the solid rock it did not perish. He also created a powerful picture in the minds of His hearers when He stated the opposite and equally true axiom that those who hear but do not obey His teachings will be like the foolish man who built on the sand and lost it all. Into every life harsh winds will blow, but those who hear and obey Jesus’ teachings will be secure. Congregations, however, cannot obey the teachings of Jesus if they never hear the teachings of Jesus. Our job as gospel preachers is to make much of Jesus and the sacred text! When we preach the Word of God to the people of God, the Spirit of God does what only He can do which is to draw the lost to Christ for salvation and equip the saints for the work of ministry.
The Holy Spirit who inspired men of God to write the Word of God is the same Holy Spirit who will anoint the faithful preacher who makes much of Jesus and the biblical text. So much preaching in America is man-centered instead of Christ-centered and biblically based. This type of homiletics that begins and ends with how the hearer might feel is comparable to eating a steady diet of desserts with no substantial fruit, meat, and vegetables.
There is, however, very good news. We are seeing a renewed emphasis on textual preaching that exalts Jesus and points unbelievers to the cross and empty tomb. This preaching also nourishes and challenges the follower of Christ to grow in his or her faith. The textual preacher’s passion is to magnify Jesus and boldly proclaim the Scriptures, well, like Jesus did when He expounded the Scriptures to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:32).
How does faithfully preaching Jesus and the sacred Scriptures build and grow a local church? I think the answer lies within answering this question—what are you trying to build? If having a crowd is your only aim, then avoid preaching the gospel of Christ and the written text; rather, preach topical sermons that make people feel good about themselves. However, if your aim is to build or grow a church that consists of passionate followers of Christ who go and make more disciples, then the only type of preaching that will be successful is the faithful and consistent proclamation of the biblical text.
I have watched a seismic shift transpire in our nation regarding preaching. As the nation continues its downward spiral into secularization and postmodernism, most preaching in the pulpits has catered and acquiesced to the preferences of the people. The prophetic and at times polemical “Thus saith the Lord” has been replaced with a passive and pleasing, “What would you like to hear?”
But I am optimistic! I see a gradual returning of more pastors who open the sacred text, read it, and preach it with conviction and power. This type of kingdom-building preaching honors Jesus and does a tremendous service to the hearer.
Pastor, keep on preaching the Word of God and exalting Jesus. You are doing far more good than you know. Only heaven has the final tally, and what a day that will be when you are able to look back and see the fruit of your labor born out through the faithful preaching of the Scriptures.
About: Dr. Danny Forshee is President of the Danny Forshee Evangelistic Association based in Austin, Texas. He also serves as lead pastor at Great Hills Baptist Church in Austin, Texas. He has served as pastor at Mount Gilead Baptist Church in Keller, Texas, Liberty Baptist Church in Hampton, Virginia, and First Baptist Church, Lavaca, Arkansas. He has also served as a Professor of Evangelism at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina and at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Danny and his wife, Ashley, have three children: Hannah, Bryant, and Leighton.