Saturday, November 7, 2009

[Note: This is the outline of the last sermon preached, on 7 October 2009, by the Rev. Dr. Edwin P. Elliott Jr., before his death on 11 October 2009.]

Called To Preach

I. God Calls His Preachers

A. Not everyone who says he comes from God has heaven's commission. "Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning the prophets that prophesy in my name, and I sent them not, yet they say. Sword and famine shall not be in this land; By sword and famine shall those prophets be consumed." (Jeremiah 14:15)

B. An old Southern saying has Scripture warrant; some were called, some were sent, and some just got up and went. "And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written. How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!" (Romans 10:15)

C. A preacher must not only be sent, he must also be sent by God. "And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron." (Hebrews 5:4)

D. The church confirms what God has done and it must be certain not to confirm what God has not done when identifying ministers. "Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery" (1 Timothy 4:14) "Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other- men's sins: keep thyself pure." (1 Timothy 5:22)

II. Look for Signs of God's Call

A. God's preachers concentrate on God's message. "But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:’ (Titus 2:1) "Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you." (Titus 2:8)

B. God's preacher will be ardent about communicating what he knows even when he knows only a portion of the full Bible message. "And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John" (Acts 18:24-25)

C. Apollos was open to learning more when he encountered other believers who had richer experience and deeper insight into God's message. "And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue :'whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly." (Acts 18:26)

D. The true biblical preacher will not let the times or the seasons distract him from his assignment. "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine" (2 Timothy 4:2)

E. True preachers will not attempt to accomplish with human methods what is entirely God's work. "And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power'' (1 Corinthians 2:4)

F. God's preachers avoid spending all their time condemning other preachers; truth, not error, is what matters. "The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD." (Jeremiah 23:28)

III. Good Preaching Will Be Balanced

A. Good preaching touches the entire counsel of God. "For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God." (Acts 20:27) "Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not jet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:" (Isaiah 46:10)

B. Genuine preachers fit the parts of Scripture together to show the larger patterns of God's revelation; the Geometry of Scripture and the Puritan Principle display the mind of God. "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15)

C. Good preaching will also be appropriate to the audience; street corner audiences and seminary chapels commonly have different needs. "I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able." (1 Corinthians 3:2)

D. Good preaching will equip people to learn more and more of the mind of God and then, as the hearers develop, will deliver richer and richer truths. "For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil" (Hebrews 5:12-14)

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