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MANIFESTING GOD'S WORD THROUGH PREACHING

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Southern California Baptist Bible Fellowship,
meeting at Faith Baptist Church, Riverside, California, November 10, 2003


"In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began; But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching" (Titus 1:2-3).


The hope of eternal life is rooted in the promise God made "before the world began." But the message of eternal life was, to lost mankind, a

"mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations"
      (Colossians 1:26).

Our first parents fell by sin in the Garden of Eden. They were cut off from God by their sin. Their depraved nature was passed on to the entire human race,

"and so death passed upon all men" (Romans 5:12).

Mankind grew increasingly alienated from God. They

"Became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools" (Romans 1:21-22).

But God in His mercy sent the message of eternal life to our sin-darkened world, "According to his own purpose and grace" (II Timothy 1:9). God sent His Word as "a light that shineth in a dark place" (II Peter 1:19). And the Word of God points lost men and women to Jesus Christ, "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). But, the Apostle Paul asks,

"How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?" (Romans 10:14).

And so, the Bible makes it clear that God sends preachers to proclaim the message of salvation to a sin-darkened world. The God-appointed way for lost mankind to be saved is through preaching!

"In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began; But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching" (Titus 1:2-3).

"In due times," in God's chosen seasons, at opportune times, God has "manifested his word through preaching." "Manifested" is from the Greek word "ephanerosen." It means "to make clear; to make known" (Vine). The word "preaching" is from "kerugmati." It means "to herald, to proclaim" (Vine).

"In due times [God] manifested [made clear, made known] his word through preaching [through heralding, through proclaiming - the gospel]."

This verse shows us the importance and centrality of preaching in the plan of God! It is the heralding and proclaiming of the Word of God!

We live in a time when preaching is not emphasized. Teaching is the common method of our pulpits. But the word for "teaching" is not the same Greek word in Scripture as the word "preaching." They are two different words. And I believe we need to make the same distinction between teaching and preaching that the Bible gives.

My appeal tonight is for preaching! Brethren, let us give the people preaching on Sunday morning! Let us give the people preaching on Sunday night! Let us give the people preaching in prayer meeting!

"How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?" (Romans 10:14).

"[God] hath in due times manifested his word through preaching" (Titus 1:3).

People can hear teaching on the radio. They can hear teaching in thousands of evangelical churches. But where can they hear preaching? Where can they hear the pure gospel thundered forth like it was in olden times? Where can they hear a man preach like Baxter, or Bunyan, or Whitefield, or Wesley, or Tennent, or Nettleton, or Spurgeon? Where can they hear a man preach - like Frank Norris did, like Bob Jones, Sr. did, like R. G. Lee and Criswell and Oliver B. Greene and John R. Rice did? Where, oh where, can they hear preaching?

These men live in my brain as I prepare my sermons. I think of them and feel that I must be true to their legacy. I must preach as they did. To do this, I must remember four central themes in all my preaching.

I. First, I must preach the Word.

We all know that Paul said, "Preach the word" (II Timothy 4:2). But when I stand behind the pulpit, how much of the Word should I preach? When I was younger, I sometimes took long passages of Scripture and tried to explain every word and concept. I became so tied up in the exposition that I couldn't get loose - to preach!

I've been preaching for forty-five years now. I have learned that people can't remember it all. Their minds drift off, and they don't follow me if I get bogged down in a long explanation or exposition. I must take a single verse, or part of a verse, and I must explain and expound, and apply those few words until they are so clear a child can understand them. And then I must take those few words of Scripture and pound them in until they penetrate a man's mind, and get ahold of his heart, and change the direction of his life.

There are no long expositions given in the Book of Acts. The Apostles gave no long expositions. The great reformers and great evangelists did not give long expositions either. They preached the Word, but they preached from a few words of Scripture. Like Spurgeon, they usually preached from a single text. And that is my assignment too.

I must study the whole passage carefully. A text without a context is a pretext. I must spend time in my study going over the whole passage surrounding the text I am going to preach. I must look up the main Greek or Hebrew words, and see what Strong and others have to say about them. I must read the comments of Matthew Henry, and John Gill, and Albert Barnes, and C. H. Spurgeon, and Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, and others. I must spend a great deal of time working and studying and preparing and praying - alone in my office.

I must get the text into my own heart - and have it burn like a fire within me. All of that is done in preparation, so I can preach the Word instead of my own thoughts. Then, when I stand in the pulpit, I preach the Word that I have studied during the week before.

II. Second, I must preach rather than teach.

When I was a boy, I heard some great preachers. I listened to Billy Graham on the radio every Sunday back in the 1950s. He was a powerful preacher, especially before he compromised in the New York Crusade in 1957. But in the early fifties he was a great preacher. He preached judgment until it made my hair stand on end. He preached Hell till I could feel the flames. I heard Dr. Criswell in person. He lifted my heart into Heaven. His preaching lifted me up, and I walked on the streets of gold. As a teenager, my own pastor preached with great power every Sunday. He was a Texas preacher. That's where he was from and that's how he preached. In those days "a Texas preacher" meant he didn't teach - he preached! And I felt that God was calling me to preach like him.

Somebody said to me, "You're not from Texas." I said, "Neither was Paul." But Paul said,

"Preach the word…reprove, rebuke, exhort…For the time will come when they will…heap to themselves teachers …"
      (II Timothy 4:2-3).

"Preach the word." "They will heap to themselves teachers." I knew the difference between a teacher and a preacher. I didn't know they were two different Greek words. I didn't know that. But I knew the difference instinctively. Nobody had to tell me there was a difference.

I took a text and started preaching. Some people told me, "You can't do that. You're only a teenager. You can't preach like that." Thank God I didn't listen to them. I've been preaching like that nearly half a century - and I'm not going to quit!

They said, "Don't shout! Use a soft voice." They even told me that at the seminary. But I figured they didn't know as much about preaching as my old pastor from Lubbock, Texas did. I figured they didn't know as much about it as Peter. It's a good thing Peter didn't go to that seminary! On the Day of Pentecost, what does it say about his preaching? I'll tell you what it says. It's in the second chapter of Acts. It says,

"But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice …"
      (Acts 2:14).

No wonder three thousand people got saved! He "lifted up his voice"! If a man doesn't lift up his voice, he isn't preaching! That's the way I've got it figured. If the preacher doesn't lift up his voice, why should sinners listen? How can they be aroused and awakened? Why should we expect them to change the direction of their lives? "He lifted up his voice." Peter is my example - not some dried out seminary professor!

The people in our church work hard to get lost people there on Sunday. The church is packed with them. I see that Catholic boy or that Buddhist girl. I will rebuke that boy. I will exhort and reprove that girl. I will lift up my voice like Peter! And God told Isaiah,

"Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins" (Isaiah 58:1).

I'm not going to give those lost people a Bible study! I'm going to give them old-fashioned preaching - to keep their souls out of Hell!

What must I preach? I must preach on total depravity. I must preach on Hell. I must preach on the unpardonable sin. I must preach on abortion, and materialism, and dead Christianity, and the false way of life in America today.

Richard Baxter is one of the leading preachers of the ages. You probably heard his famous statement,

I preached as never sure to preach again, and as a dying man to dying men.

How could it be said better? When I preach I must be gripped by my own sermon. I must be deeply moved by it before I ever enter the pulpit. If I am not filled with emotion when I preach, how can I expect my sermon to move the hearts of the people?

The late Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was one of the most gifted preachers of the twentieth century. I love to hear tape recordings of his evangelistic sermons. Dr. Lloyd-Jones said,

Can a man see himself as a damned sinner without emotion? Can a man look into Hell without emotion? Can a man listen to the thunderings of the law and feel nothing?...Can a man really contemplate the love of God in Christ Jesus and feel no emotion? The whole position is utterly ridiculous…What is preaching? Logic on fire!...Preaching is theology coming through a man who is on fire…I say again that a man who can speak about these things dispassionately has no right whatsoever in a pulpit; and should never be allowed to enter one (Martyn Lloyd-Jones, M.D., Preaching and Preachers, Zondervan, 1971, pp. 95, 97).

Again, Dr. Lloyd-Jones said,

This element of…emotion is, to me, a very vital one. It is what has been seriously lacking in this present century… Where is the passion in preaching that has always characterized great preaching in the past? Why are not modern preachers moved and carried away as the great preachers of the past so often were? (ibid., pp. 93, 90).

Oh God, when I stand behind the pulpit to deliver Thy Word, help me to feel what great Baxter felt,

I preached as never sure to preach again, and as a dying man to dying men.

III. Third, I must preach Christ - crucified and risen.

Others may give Bible studies, or motivational talks - but I was not called by God for that. I was called to preach the gospel of Christ! And I must never leave the pulpit without extolling the virtues of my Saviour, Jesus Christ, the Son of God!

In a day when others are giving nice little verse-by-verse Bible studies, I must preach on "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).

"For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God"
      (I Corinthians 1:18).

I have been accused by some of not giving the "meat of the Word." But I contend that Christ is the meat of the Word! Would such accusers say that Paul did not give "meat" in his sermons? Would they accuse Paul of being too shallow? And yet it was Paul who said,

"I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified" (I Corinthians 2:2).

When I have preached Christ in all His agony, and Christ in all His glory, I have preached the full meat and marrow of the Word of God. When men and women are preached into Christ, they have been preached into all that they will ever need - on earth or in Heaven!

The Apostle said,

"Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord" (I Corinthians 1:30-31).

Or, as Charles Wesley put it,

Thou, O Christ, art all I want; More than all in Thee I find;
Raise the fallen, cheer the faint, Heal the sick and lead the blind.
Thou of life the Fountain art, Freely let me take of Thee;
Spring Thou up within my heart, Rise to all eternity.
     ("Jesus, Lover of My Soul" by Charles Wesley, 1707-1788).

Thou, O Christ, art all I want! More than all in thee I find!

I love to tell the story, For those who know it best
Seem hungering and thirsting To hear it like the rest.
And when, in scenes of glory, I sing the new, new song,
'Twill be the old, old story That I have loved so long.
I love to tell the story, 'Twill be my theme in glory,
To tell the old, old story Of Jesus and His love.
     ("I Love to Tell the Story" by Catherine Hankey, 1834-1911).

I must speak of Christ's vicarious death on the Cross. I must tell sinners that His Blood can cleanse them in the sight of God. I must tell them that He has risen from the dead - and I must tell them that He has ascended to the right hand of God in Heaven. If I do not say those things, I have not preached the gospel. However good my sermon was, I have failed God in my preaching. That is the conviction of my heart. I must preach Christ crucified and risen. It must be a central theme in my sermons.

IV. Fourth, I must preach people into the local church.

I make no apology for being a Baptist, because none is needed. The local church is at the very heart of our Baptist message. And rightly so - for it is a central truth of the New Testament.

We do not know all that Peter said on the Day of Pentecost. He preached on several topics not listed in the second chapter of Acts. It simply says,

"And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation" (Acts 2:40).

Did he preach them into the church? Undoubtedly, yes - for we are told,

"They that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls" (Acts 2:41).

Added unto who? Added unto"them" - the local church at Jerusalem! Then we are told that

"The Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved"
      (Acts 2:47).

They were added to that local church!

I must preach people into the church or I have not been faithful to the Word of God. I must be up front with sinners. I must tell them, at the beginning, that God expects them to "save yourselves from this untoward generation" (Acts 2:40). I must make it so plain and clear that it can be said,

"And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved" (Acts 2:47).

The sinner has to be told that he is saved by faith in Christ alone. But he should know from my preaching that saving faith in Christ must show itself by the fruit of church membership. This I hold as a true Baptist distinctive, and a sound Bible doctrine. As I say every Sunday, in nearly every sermon, "Why be lonely? Come home - to church! Why be lost? Come home - to Jesus Christ!"

These, then, are the four themes that control the very center of my preaching. I must preach the Word. I must preach rather than teach. I must preach Christ - crucified and risen. I must preach people into the local church, always remembering the words of Christ,

"Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18).

"In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began; But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching" (Titus 1:2-3).

May every pastor here tonight rededicate himself to the great task of gospel preaching. May we labor and study and pray for God to make us better able to proclaim His message, so that His Word may be manifested through our preaching. And may God help us all to do it. Amen.

 

(END OF SERMON)

Scripture Read Before the Sermon: Titus 1:1-3.


THE OUTLINE OF

MANIFESTING GOD'S WORD THROUGH PREACHING

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

 

"In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began; But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching" (Titus 1:2-3).

(Colossians 1:26; Romans 5:12; 1:21-22; II Timothy 1:9;
 II Peter 1:9; John 1:29; Romans 10:14)

I.   I must preach the Word, II Timothy 4:2.

II.  I must preach rather than teach, II Timothy 4:2-3; Acts 2:14;
Isaiah 58:1.

III. I must preach Christ - crucified and risen, John 1:29;
I Corinthians 1:18; 2:2; 1:30-31.

IV. I must preach people into the local church, Acts 2:40, 41, 47;
Matthew 16:18.

You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.rlhymersjr.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."