He counted me faithful,
putting me into the ministry.
Preaching "Outside the Box" of Experience
Preaching "Outside the Box" of Experience
Acts 20:26, 27: Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.
I Timothy 4:12: Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
Often have we heard the statement that someone is "thinking outside of the box". I take this to mean that someone has gotten creative and has gone outside the normal -- or accepted -- channels of thinking in order to come up with some better idea; or they have decided to explore territory beyond their experience to come up with a solution. But, many "boxes" are of our own making. Society may help to create "the box".
In the church work, it may be that the congregation is trying to tell the preacher what he should and should not preach. If he is not sensitive enough to the Lord's direction, maybe even the preacher will begin to confine himself to a "box" of truths that are acceptable. Sometimes, if we are not careful, one such "box" can be the box of the preacher's practical experience.
I have sometimes heard a very logical-sounding argument that goes something like this: "Since that preacher has no experience in this particular area, he ought to be silent about it."; or, "How could he possibly understand and advise me when he has never been in my circumstances".
While I generally would agree with the thought that the preacher is better able to understand, empathize, and usually more able to minister in the areas in which he has had the most experience; I find that the minister has a responsibility before God at times to give people God's Word even in areas where he may find himself inexperienced.
Let us prove (test) our ideas by the Word of God. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. (I Thessalonians 5:21)
The Minister's Duty
In both of the above references, Paul is addressing the ministry. In both instances, he deals with the duty of the minister both to proclaim the Word of God and to practice what he preaches. In the first, he reminded the elders of his faithfulness both to give them "all the counsel of God" and to live a life of holiness before them (see context in Acts chapter 20). To Timothy he says not to let his youth, or inexperience, stand in the way of doing his duty as a minister, but he again ties to it the responsibility to be an "example of the believers".
Obviously, the preacher dare not preach one way and live in contradiction to what he preaches. Many souls have been led astray and many good truths have fallen upon deaf ears because of this very thing.
Preaching to and Pastoring the Experienced
Just by the natural order of things we preachers sometimes find ourselves preaching to and even pastoring some well-seasoned saints. Some of these have had perhaps fifty to one-hundred times as much experience as the preacher. Some may have been many years in the ministry themselves. No wonder the preacher is also given this admonition: Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; . . The elder women as mothers... (I Timothy 5:1,2)
The Whole Counsel of God
But still, the preacher must be faithful to preach the Word of God as it applies to "the sheep of his pasture". If he withholds needful truth on the basis that he himself "has little or no practical experience in that area", he may very well find blood on his hands when he gives an account at the Judgment for those souls that had been under his care.
Examples of Preaching "Outside the Box"
To clarify what I am trying to say let us review some examples:
Nathan Prophesied this Way
You will probably remember the awful occasion of David's two-fold sin and bitter repentance. David had both committed adultery with another man's wife and then had the man, Uriah, killed that he might hide the first sin. The Bible specifically says that the matter displeased the Lord. Then the Lord sent Nathan the prophet to David. When Nathan proclaimed, "Thou art the man"!, those heart-piercing words blew David's cover.
It was then that David saw how awful and real his sins were and in brokenness prayed, Against thee, thee only have I sinned. (Psalm 51:4). Thankfully, David did not ask Nathan, "What business do you have to preach such things to me when you have never fallen into adultery or murdered a man!"
My point here is that Nathan did not have to commit those particular sins, nor did he even need to be a direct or indirect victim of them, in order to hear the Word of the Lord, the thumb of God in his back, and to faithfully declare the whole counsel of God as it related to David.
Dating, Marriage, and Children
I well remember the necessity of preaching certain essential truths, principles of practical application, to some under my charge while I was yet an unmarried man. I had to preach some truths before I had opportunity in the providence of God to apply them to my own life. How could I love my wife when I had no wife? How could I have my "children in subjection with all gravity" when as yet I had no child? Most of those three years, I was not dating, but I still preached about putting God first and letting God decide the details about dating and courtship.
We still do not have children, but I must be faithful as best I can to give the people the principles to help them. I am thinking just now of a young minister, whom I believe does a great job with the many young people under his watch-care, but his children are yet very young.
A Prince of Preachers
A dear man of God, the late Brother Glen Patterson, preached like few have ever preached in our time. He could really "wax the elephants" as they say, but he preached clear, deep, and powerfully-anointed truths that would move the hearts of men in God's direction. It was this servant of God who preached in a preachers' meeting I attended several years ago.
A layman remarked that Brother Patterson had an unusual understanding of the pastor's work, though he had not been a pastor for many years. One may say as I did, "But, as I understand it, he has some pastoral experience in his past."; but, dear reader, this man preached like he was currently immersed in the pastoral ministry.
Had he a tremendous memory? Was he well-read or very observant? Did he keep in close touch with pastors, or just in tune with the heart of God? I happen to believe it may have been all of the above. But, whatever the case, though he was personally years "out of the box", his anointed messages were right on the mark.
Picture with me a man on the hunt. He may tread upon unfamiliar territory; but he may still carry an adequate weapon, both accurate and powerful, loaded with good ammunition. As the game comes into range, with proper aim and perfect timing he may very well come back with dinner and a trophy to mount on the wall!
No, I do not excuse the preaching that "shoots anything that moves", but may we ever seek and aim for the bull's-eye of God's truth applied to our hearts and lives, no matter who the messenger or what the message may be. And, let the preacher ever aim for the approval of God and the advancement of God's kingdom in the hearts of the people.
I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14)
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Last edited by BibleNote Writer, 6/Sep/2015, 4:54 pm
Sincerely Yours in Christ,
The Bible Note Writer
written to glorify God
and to help souls
on the way to Heaven.
31/Aug/2015, 6:54 pm
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