George "Randy" Dickson
"Go preach the gospel to every creature . . . (Mark 16:15) " it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe" ( 1 Cor. 1: 21). "But we preach Christ crucified . . ." (1 Cor. 1:23) "Preach the word, be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine" (2 Tim. 4:2).
We do not want to be misunderstood to believe that the only application of the above scriptures is to public evangelism. The private or personal evangelism is included in these, also. Paul affirmed that he had " . . . kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publicly and from house to house" (Acts 20:20). SO we see that in our desire to fulfill our obligation to teach from house to house, we should never neglect the public proclamation of the word.
The place of public evangelism can never properly be taken over by any other method. This was a part of the work of the New Testament church. This can still be an essential means of reaching many that cannot be reached by other methods. While some can be reached without the public teaching, there is an atmosphere attached to a "preached" lesson that is not obtained by other means.
We wish to discuss in this paper the two aspects of public evangelism; the "two" teaches of the great commission, "go teach . . . teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you" (3latt. 28:19). More and more today, I hear a brother being talked about somewhat after this fashion . . . "well Bro. Blank isn't much in the pulpit, but he is indeed a fine personal worker." Now we are not comparing one man's ability with another in this. It does seem to me that some have and are neglecting their God given responsibilities to publicly proclaim the Gospel. This should not be. The church is to be built up first in that the members are edified, and second that new souls are added to the Lord. I believe that certain essentials are needed to build up the church through public evangelism.
These essentials are:
- The man must love the truth above everything else. This will cause him to preach the truth without the mixture of men's opinions and doctrines. Much mischief has been done to the cause of public preaching by men assuming the task of preaching their own opinions for the truth of God.
- The man must live that which he preached on Sunday, on Monday etc., so that the truth is not blamed. Those who preach one thing and practice another have done much harm to the cause of Christ.
- The man must love the truth to the extent that he will defend it, regardless of cost (Jude 3).
When we have men in the pulpit with these attributes, coupled with congregations who love and support the truth, we will indeed be built up by public evangelism.
I believe it would be only proper to come to the defense of some of my preaching brethren who perhaps are not fulfilling their capabilities in this matter. I know that one of the reasons behind some of the preaching not being up to that which it should be is that in many modern congregations there are those who saddle the preacher with every manner of function, i e., from social worker to baby sitter. He just doesn't have enough time left over for the study and meditation necessary. We should not allow ourselves to be used like this, but it happens sometimes, nevertheless.
Paul said to Timothy in 1 Tim. 4:15, "Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them, that thy profiting may appear to all." Some of the above functions may properly become a part of the duty of the gospel preacher, but if they do these things (or anything) to the neglect of the preparation and presentation of good gospel sermons, then the price has been too much.
Yes, our God, who made us, knew in advance that we would need to hear the gospel publicly proclaim it over and over again in order to develop as we should. When preachers are filled with love of the truth, stand willing to proclaim those ageless truths with power and conviction, live the lessons in their daily lives; we will again see the effect of publicly proclaiming the gospel in precious lives. Let us never relegate this feature of the church to any place other than the most prominent. Let us learn to preach, and then preach the word, in season, or out of season (when they like it and when they don't).