Looking to the Lord
David’s secret can be summed up in five words said of him: “the Lord is with him” (I Sam 16:18). Without this, all attempts to present any gospel message will be futile.
The gospel must be preached with dignity, and in the fear of God. We have experienced what we would have judged to be the poorest presentation, and yet there was a single word from God that reached the conscience of a listener. That one word, proved to be a word from the Lord (Jer 37:17).
Looking at the audience
If the audience is expected to look at the preacher, the preacher must look at his audience! Jeremiah looked directly into the faces of his audience. The Lord reminded the faithful prophet not to be distracted by their faces, which would reflect their disdain of the message (Jer 1:8,17). The average uninterrupted attention span of an individual is eight minutes. In preaching the gospel we are not only working against natural limitations, but the spiritual powers of darkness that attempt to distract the listener. To keep the attention of our listeners, we must present the gospel in an interesting manner.
Looking away from ourselves
If brother does not get too high on his own preaching, he likely will not get too low either. At times when there has been the feeling that the presentation was poor, possibly it was injured pride, knowing that we have had it easier. How often we have heard someone say in giving his testimony that they did not remember a word the preacher said. While this might be true. God can use what and whom He will; it does not excuse us from preaching the subject of our selected text to the best of our ability. The continual quoting of other passages of Scripture to reinforce the primary text or point you are making is of great importance.
It is essential in all gospel preaching, that we speak plainly positively and personally. The apostle was very concerned about the presentation of the gospel when he reminded the brethren in Corinth that he had “declared …preached…delivered…that which also he had received” (1 Cor 15:1-5).
Even the people in the days of our Lord said, “Tell us plainly” (John 10:24). In speaking to his own concerning the death of Lazarus, “Them said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead” (John 11:14). Those early to the tomb in Luke 24 remembered how He spoke unto them. The Savior was conscious of his audience and the manner in which He presented His message. Whether the Old Testament prophets, or the New Testament evangelist they presented every message plainly. When people indicated they did not understand, it was because they didn’t want to understand. Maybe Beshazzar didn’t understand the handwriting on the wall, but if he did not know he was in trouble, why the trembling? Let us strive to be plain in our presentation, leaving the audience with a clear understanding of our message.
We should never come across to our audience in a manner that is brazen.
However, we do not have to apologize for definite statements from the Word of God. When we are speaking about man’s ruin, depravity or the plight of his condition before God, we can speak authoritatively. God does not state His opinions and suggestions. He speaks with a declaration of absolutes. Likewise, in our presentation of the wonderful cross work of our Savior, we can speak in the same manner. Unregenerate man’s concept of Christian experience is a list of negatives, a life of denial and unhappiness. Let us make sure that we speak in such a manner, that they will understand that it is the exact opposite. Our preaching should be with compassion while we tell of a loving Savior that gave his life at the cross for guilty and ruined man.
An earnest preacher of the gospel must speak personally. Paul could speak of the message of the gospel as “my gospel” (Rom 2:16, 16:25, 2 Tim 2:8). It is true we cannot speak possessively to the same extent but it should be remembered that he spoke to the Corinthians of it as “that which I also received” first as a sinner, then as steward. The personality of the preacher will come through in his preaching. We find that in the messages of Stephen, Peter and Paul. They were different in their personalities, and different in their delivery and presentation of divine truth, yet God used them. We can not help taking on traits and the manner of delivery of those with whom we have labored, but it should never be to a point where it is a distraction to our audience.
In conclusion, it is to be understood that a young brother in his first attempts to preach the gospel is not going to be able to present it the same as someone who has been doing it for years. It takes time and exercise to develop even the delivery of the message. Few like to hear their own voices on a tape recorder, but this can prove helpful in detecting unnecessary repetition and the possible need for a better chokes of phrases.
The world will never hear a greater or grander message than the gospel. Let it be our spiritual endeavor to present it with all the clarity and interest of which it is so worthy.