Preaching That is Without Authority
How can one read the life of Jesus with any care at all without noting the authority with which He conducted His ministry? Matthew, Mark, Like all record this. The same essential authority is evident in the ministries of the New Testament days. Is such authority a special gift to Christ Jesus and to first-century Apostles but not to be hoped for in times like these? Certainly not! There are men of authority today just as in every preceding generation: but why do some men speak with impressive authority and others without noticeable impact?
Can a self-called man preach with the same authority as a God-called preacher? Can a man whose confidence in the Holy Scriptures is shaken by personal doubts compare with the authority of the man whose heart, soul and mind are dominated by conviction concerning the absolute accuracy of the Bible? Can a man whose own conscience rises up in condemnation of him for some secret sin in his life preach with the same authority as the man who conscience condemns him not (I John 3:21-22)?
All of us need to face the fact that there are self-called men in the ministry. They may be good men who mean well, but they are doomed to a different kind of work than the called of God. None who listen to their preaching should be surprised at their lack of authority. While I believe with all my heart in an educated ministry, I know full-well that many men have lost what little confidence they had in the Scriptures during their of formal preparation. I will never forget the negative impact of my own seminary days as my confidence in the written Word of God bordered on destruction. It was only because of the interference of a gracious Providence that I was spared the permanent doubts and uncertainties that plague many men in today’s pulpits.
While some might like to pretend otherwise, the men in ministry whose own lives are marred by unconquered lusts and unbridled sins are legion in number. It is utterly impossible for a man who rejects God’s command “Be ye holy as I am holy” (I Peter 1:16) to preach with divine authority. The crippled churches and limping Christians affected by the ministries of these leaders are everywhere apparent. Christian preachers say that they deal with the most significant issues that mortal beings can ever face; issues of life and death, of hope and destruction, of eternal salvation and everlasting condemnation. Yet they often handle these sacred matters with less enthusiasm and passion than prisoners working on chain-gangs.
In second Peter one the apostle speaks of applying all diligence to your faith by supplying “moral excellence” or “moral power” or “moral energy.” Faith must be supplemented by passion. Those who listen to preaching have the right to be convinced that the preacher is morally in earnest about what he is saying, that he believes in it with all his heart, and that it is of the greatest possible consequence. If the listener has reason to doubt the earnestness of the preacher, he is fortified in doubting the message preached. Preacher, why is there so little passion in your ministry? Do you yourself believe what you say?