The Preacher of the Gospel
The preacher of the Gospel loves speaking about his Saviour. For him it is not a question of something that has to be done, but of something that he loves to do: ”My heart is welling forth [with] a good matter: I say what I have composed touching the king. My tongue is the pen of a ready writer”, (Ps. 45; 1). His is a service, not of necessity or compulsion, but of love - love for the One who loved him and gave Himself for him. There is a readiness to serve because Christ has filled his heart.
The preacher of the Gospel views his service as a solemn responsibility. He knows full well that a flippant, careless manner renders him quite unfit to serve. His is a serious preaching: he is dealing with souls and he is also dealing with God. The apostle’s closing words are continually before him: “I testify before God and Christ Jesus, who is about to judge living and dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom, proclaim the word; be urgent in season [and] out of season, convict, rebuke, encourage, with all longsuffering and doctrine”, (2 Tim. 4: 1, 2). His is an earnest, fervent service, for like a great English evangelist of long ago, he preaches “as a dying man to a dying world”.
The preacher of the Gospel comes direct from the presence of God. Mere orthodoxy in the sermon will not do - he must have a living message from the Living God. He will not, indeed he cannot, preach except the divine hand first fill his heart with a burden to deliver. His eagerness to serve is tempered by the knowledge that it must be service rendered to God. Like Paul, his concern is to be “not as pleasing men, but God”, (1 Thess. 2: 4). It matters little what men think, but what God thinks is everything.
The preacher of the Gospel has a passion for souls. His desire is not to get the occasion over and done with, but to get souls saved. His care is not to fill the hour but to win the people before him for Christ. Like Paul, his spirit is “painfully excited”, (Acts 17: 16), at the awful and solemn state of the lost, and like Paul the delight of his heart, and the supplication which he addresses to God for them, “is for salvation”, (Rom. 10: 1). His deep and heartfelt desire for the unconverted soul, like those who brought the paralytic to the Lord, is “to bring him in, and put [him] before him”, (Luke 5: 18).
The preacher of the Gospel is a man of prayer. He dare not preach without prayer. He is on his knees before he speaks, and he is on his knees afterwards. “Pray unceasingly”, (1 Thess. 5: 17), is his motto. Not for him the hurried, formal prayer - his is an intense, heartfelt supplication that God might bless the word spoken. He knows what it is to labour in prayer, to agonise before God over souls, to plead with God for the lost. He is well aware that success is achieved, not in the pulpit, but in the prayer-closet. Some pray as a matter of tradition - he prays because he knows that he cannot do without God.
This then is the preacher of the Gospel. Where do we see his like today? We hear gospel addresses that may be characterised as good, clear, sound, striking, intelligent, eloquent, sweet, but they do not achieve much either in conversions or in stirring up the powers of darkness. The difference lies in the character and in the calibre of the messengers.