Over the years, the style of preaching has changed. In recent years, the impact of political correctness has created an atmosphere in many churches today where sin may be dealt with in a generic way but where the clarity of God preaching about the sins of the listeners has almost been removed. Young preachers, and some older ones, would do well to examine the kind of preaching which in the first century “…turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6).
Have we lost sight of the fact that the preaching in the first century came about because God determined the message, and “they began to speak…as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4)? Jesus’ disciples were told that when they were confronted in the synagogues or brought before authorities, “Do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you should answer, or what you should say” (Luke 12:11-12). Preachers need to study to learn the kind of preaching done when God chose the style of preaching.
Look at how Jesus described the kind of preaching that was done by the Holy Spirit. “He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8). When properly understood, the Greek word translated convict shows the kind of preaching God wanted in that day as well as in ours. Barclay says in defining that word, “It is used for the cross-examination of a witness, or a man on trial, or an opponent in an argument. It has always this idea of cross-examining a man until he sees and admits his errors or acknowledges the force of some argument which he had not yet seen.” This concept stands in marked contrast to the use of the sophistry of human wisdom trying to suavely change lives of the listeners without upsetting their souls.
It is the word used to describe the preaching of John the Baptist when he openly confronted adulterous Herod (Luke 3:19). It is the word used to describe the public action God intended for preachers to do when they openly rebuked impenitent elders before the whole church (1 Tim. 5:20). It is used to describe what could happen when an unbeliever comes into the weekly assembly. “If…an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all…so falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you” (1 Cor. 14:24-25).
Yet in our day, we tend to remove the convicting words of the Spirit and replace them with our own ideas. Why would we not bring to the forefront those book, chapter and verse words given so forcefully by God? Have you considered that by not using His word you might be quenching the Spirit?