Biblical Foundations 2: Preaching (Romans 10:14-15)
For “Biblical Foundations Part 1,” please click HERE.
We will continue to look at the Biblical foundations of this local church–why does God have all of us attending here? What is He doing in and through us? In the last post we dug into Romans 10:13 and below we will continue to dive deeply into Romans 10:14-17:
14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
I am no good as a motivational speaker, as an entertainer, as a comedian, as a teller of stories, as a presenter to hold your attention through my personality; many times I wish I could do some of those things because like salt they can be used by God in small doses.
But as the verses above show, by the power of the Holy Spirit I try each Sunday to preach—that is, to proclaim boldly—the Truth of God as revealed in the Bible. Not to “give a talk” or just casually “share” about some spiritual things but to humbly, gently, respectfully, but also boldly preach and proclaim the Truth of God in the Bible. Not to be safe but to be Scriptural! Not to tell you what you want to hear but to proclaim what God has revealed in the Bible—what He wants all of us to hear!
1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (NIV):
2 And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.”
Paul would not have been hired by most 21st century American churches! And yet the Holy Spirit moved POWERFULLY through Paul…that is my hope and prayer and goal when I preach—for the Holy Spirit to move powerfully…
Thus, one of my prayers and goals each Sunday is that you walk away remembering Bible verses—what God has said!—not what I have said, that you walk away and get to your house and dig more deeply through a Bible verse or passage that was preached.
My hope is that the sermon will be ground-breaking work each week—tilling the soil—to loosen up the ground of your soul and that you will partner with the Holy Spirit the rest of the week to keep digging, planting, watering, and fertilizing…for us to spend time in the garden each Sunday morning with Christ and for that to encourage you to continue spending time in the garden with the LORD throughout the week digging through the Bible!
Let’s continue with our original passage in Romans 10…
16 But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” 17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.
Thus at Elevate, faith in Jesus is the goal and by God’s continued grace faith in Jesus is preached here—not faith in self, or even faith in faith (faith is only as good as its object, what is believed in!), but faith in Jesus Christ Himself and nothing less. God-confidence, not self-confidence, will be preached here! God-rescue, not self-help, will be proclaimed here! Active faith in Jesus, expressing itself in love…
- When scrawny 14 year old David fought the 9 foot tall giant Goliath, even through David had killed lions and bears as a shepherd, David boldly fought Goliath not with self-confidence in David’s past success or in his gift/skill with a slingshot but with God-confidence—faith in the LORD that God would work through David and that GOD would be the one to get the victory and the credit and the glory. THAT’s Biblical faith! THAT is what God is doing at Elevate! Calling us to the deeper and scarier waters of confidence in Christ…
1 Samuel 17:45-48 (NIV):
45 David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that [David is amazing—NO! That’s what happens at many churches—the pastor becomes a celebrity instead of Jesus] there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves [not by eloquence or stage presence or any of the other church-techniques that so many books try to sell us! NO! By the power of God alone! Unless the LORD builds the house the workers labor in vain; not by power or might but by my Holy Spirit, declares the LORD]; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”
And look at what God-confidence, not self-confidence, did for David—he didn’t fight Goliath sheepishly or timidly. David RAN QUICKLY to the battle line…
48 As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him.
After Goliath was defeated, I believe David faced an even bigger giant: remembering that the LORD, and not David, killed the giant…
What would it look like for you to face the giants in your life with GOD-confidence, not self-confidence? To run TOWARD the giants, not AWAY! Not by trying to increase your muscles (changing your circumstances/improving your techniques!) to fight the giants but by increasing and strengthening your faith in Jesus instead!? That is what God is calling us to at Elevate, to go against the ways we have been raised to focus on increasing our self-confidence (“believe in yourself,” “you can do anything you set your mind to!”, etc.) and to focus instead on partnering with the Holy Spirit and the Bible to increase our God-confidence…
- When Joseph was unjustly in prison and was given the opportunity to secure his freedom by correctly interpreting the dream of Pharaoh, Joseph didn’t have self-confidence but God-confidence. Even though Joseph had correctly interpreted dreams in the past, Joseph didn’t get ANY encouragement from his past success or look upon that as one of his “gifts/abilities.” Look at what Joseph said to Pharaoh:
Genesis 41:15-16 (NIV)
15 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.” [This would have birthed self-confidence and pride in a lesser man, but not in Joseph; he would not be tricked into trusting in himself!]
16 “I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.”
THAT is faith in the LORD! Apart from Jesus we can do nothing! We are the glove and He is the hand in us working and moving; without the Hand the glove just sits in the pocket or on the table. That is what God is doing at Elevate! And that is the faith that many here are praying for God to grow in all of us.
So, as the verses in Romans point out, faith in Christ is the goal, and faith in Jesus comes from “hearing the Word of Christ,” that is, faith comes from hearing the Bible, God’s Word, preached week in and week out. Not using the Bible as a sprinkle of spiritual salt to give flavor to an entertaining presentation/speech but using the Bible as God’s meat and potatoes and vegetables for us to feast on.
Faith in Christ is the goal, and the Word of God is the way to reach that goal…
Isaiah 55:9-12 (NIV)
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
12 You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.”
ONLY God’s Word guarantees results! That’s why I aim to preach His Word each Sunday as the entrée and not just as a side dish or appetizer or sprinkled seasoning.
And what are the results? VERSE 12: “We will go out IN JOY and be led forth IN PEACE” when God’s Word is preached in the power of the Holy Spirit! The self-help motivational speeches of humans can only result in happiness at best, but not JOY, not PEACE!
John 14:27 (NIV):
Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
The world offers peace but it is not Jesus’ and it is a poor substitute to the real thing! Only God’s Word preached in the power of the Holy Spirit can offer us true peace…the world offers happiness at best that fades; God’s Word offers JOY that lasts & grows!
Not only that, but God’s Word preached in the power of the Holy Spirit produces true bread for us to eat and be nourished by—
Psalm 119:103 (NIV):
“How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!”—
as well as producing seeds (Isaiah 55:10 above) for us to plant in our hearts & minds that will grow to produce more food and nourishment for us in the future! YES!
- But you might say, “I’ve TRIED! I’ve read the Bible for a while and nothing happens! I don’t have joy and peace!” Fair enough, but look at the farming and planting illustrations that the LORD uses above in Isaiah 55–joy & peace take time for the Holy Spirit to plant, nurture, fertilize, grow and harvest in us! I’ve heard people read the Bible for minutes every once and a while and not get a harvest of joy & peace, but I have never heard of someone humbly and expectantly reading the Bible regularly for years and not get joy & peace…it takes time, perseverance, and faith, just like farming!
- Galatians 6:9 NIV: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” YES! On God’s timing we will gather a great harvest if we don’t give up! 🙂
And not only THAT, but only God’s Word is powerful enough that even plants and trees can burst forth in songs of praise to God! A walk in the woods can be a worship service when God and His Word are filling our hearts and minds!
HOW COULD I OFFER YOU ANYTHING LESS THAN THAT ON SUNDAY MORNINGS!!!!???? 🙂
But as verse 16 above says, not everyone is going to accept God’s Word being preached, people want the “cake of life” but Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life.” Not everyone is going to realize that it is good news because at times it will seem like bad news as the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin and humbles us through His Word! That is one of the main ways that I need your prayers—that the Holy Spirit will give me strength, love, wisdom and humility to preach HIS Word and not my own, to preach what HE wants me to say and not what you want me to say. I need consistent prayer regarding writing & preaching sermons:
-to not do surgery when what we need is a pat on the back;
-to not give a high-five when what we need is amputation.
This is some of the great Biblical foundation work that God is graciously doing in this local church…we will continue to look at this more in future posts…