No higher calling or higher privilege exists than God’s calling on a man’s life to preach the Word of God (2 Tim 4:2). The calling to preach the Word necessarily entails the responsibility to articulate the gospel of Jesus Christ to sinners who need redemption (1 Cor 2:1-5). When preaching to sinners who need redemption, a pastor bears four obligations upon his life and ministry to be most effective in his proclamation of the gospel.
First, the preacher bears the obligation to live as an example (Eph 4:1). The late Dr. Roy Fish (Professor of Evangelism at SWBTS in Fort Worth, TX) once stated, “You will never be an effective evangelist in the pulpit until you are a faithful evangelist outside the pulpit.” A pastor who verbally shares the gospel throughout the week will undoubtedly possess a power and credibility when preaching to the sinner on Sunday mornings that the non-witnessing pastor will not. Pastors who desire to be most effective in the pulpit must be intentional to share the gospel outside the pulpit. Pastors, make sure your lives model personal evangelism.
Second, the preacher bears the obligation to preach with expectation (Eph 3:20-21). Remember, 2 Peter 3:9 states, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” No one loves sinners more than God does. No one desires for sinners to surrender to Christ more than God does. Preachers, therefore, must preach with an expectant heart. How might God move more powerfully in our churches if every preacher in America was shocked if someone did not repent and call on the name of Jesus every week? Too often, though, many preachers are shocked if someone does repent. Pray and preach with expectancy, desiring to see sinners saved every week in your church.
Third, the preacher bears the obligation to preach the gospel (I Cor 1:23-24). Every sermon needs to point to Jesus. Stories, illustrations, and humor are wonderfully helpful and appropriate at times, but the power of preaching comes from the Word of God. The power of the gospel of Jesus Christ must be boldly, unashamedly, and clearly communicated and declared each week. If we urge sinners to repent and call on Jesus, it is a necessity to explain to them why, how, and when. James Merritt (Lead Pastor at Cross Pointe Church in Duluth, GA) once said that when he visits other churches, the one thing he always asks himself is if he was a sinner in need of Christ, would he clearly hear the gospel, understand it, and have an opportunity to respond to it. Our goal as preachers should center on defining the gospel, so that each week every sinner will know exactly how to respond to Jesus and receive redemption through the blood of Christ. Preach Jesus!
Fourth, the preacher bears the obligation to encourage an immediate response to the gospel (Acts 8:35-36). In recent years, the trend seems to eliminate a purposeful time at the conclusion of the message to call sinners to repentance and trust in Christ. Regardless of trends or popularity, after the preacher proclaims the gospel, he must extend an intentional time for sinners to respond to the life-changing message. Every time the Word of God opens, the mouth of God opens. When the mouth of God opens, He speaks. And, when God speaks, we must respond. Provide an opportunity for those who do not know Christ to repent and turn to God. Be bold with your response time. Urge, plead, and even beg sinners to trust in Christ. They need His redemption. The gospel is their only hope. Time is limited. Redeem the time in every sermon and call sinners to Christ Jesus.
This world consists of many wonders, galaxies, and a plethora of technological advances that stagger the imagination. In the end, however, only two things will last forever. The Word of God will last forever. Many have attempted to destroy it and dismiss it, but the Word of God has withstood and will continue to withstand the test of time. People will also last forever. Whether a person spends an eternity in heaven or hell, they will live forever. The question that every believer and every preacher must ask is, “What will I choose to invest the rest of my life in?” Through the week and on Sunday mornings, we must invest our lives in the Word of God and people. That’s what matters when preaching to sinners who need redemption.
Eric currently serves as the High School Pastor at First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Georgia. Eric was raised in a small, rural community in Arkansas before moving to Dallas, Texas to continue his education. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and Sociology from Dallas Baptist University. He continued his educational journey by obtaining a Master of Christian Education degree and a Master of Divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also completed his Doctorate of Ministry degree from the same institution. Eric and his wife, Katie, have been married for 9 years. They have two sons-Josiah and Malachi and are expecting a baby girl in the fall. He and his family traveled as a full-time, vocational evangelist for 9 years. Eric has traveled all across America and has spent time in Mexico, Guatemala, Brazil, Peru, China, France, Ireland, Burkina Faso; West Africa, Ivory Coast; West Africa, Ghana; West Africa, and the Philippines.