Preachers have always moved men. Teachers instruct them, but preachers send them into action. A preacher, John Wesley, helped change England’s history; and that same nation was stirred toward the abolition of slavery by the evangelistic fervor of Wilberforce. Karl Marx instructed followers regarding communism; but Lenin, the preacher, fired them into a mission. Mein Kampf caught a people’s attention; but the “preaching” of Hitler turned Germany into a dynamic evil force.
Jesus’ understanding of what moves men may have led him to make preaching a central part of the Christian faith. He himself delivered the most celebrated sermon of all time. Luke reports, “He went throughout every city and village, preaching” (Luke 8:1). No sooner had he ordained the Twelve than they “went through the towns, preaching” (Luke 9:6). After the Resurrection Jesus announced that the Gospel “should be preached in his name among all nations” (Luke 24:47).
The Church’s first experience after the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was hearing a sermon. The early Christians moved out on their mission, going “everywhere preaching the Word” (Acts 8:4). At times, in fact, it appeared that the Church was made up almost entirely of preachers.
The motivation for so much preaching is explained to Cornelius by Peter: “He [Jesus] commanded us to preach” (Acts 10:42). The preachers were under high orders. They understood the reason for their assignment: “God decided to save those who believe, by means of the ‘foolish’ message we preach” (1 Cor. 1:21, Good News for Modern Man). “How can they believe,” Paul asks, “if they have not heard the message? And how can they hear, if the message is not preached? And how can the message be preached, if the messengers ...1
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