Let’s change the world! It can seem pretty bad sometimes. Sometimes it seems bad all the time. The 24 hour news exists only to tell us how bad things are. Rarely do we hear anything about things getting better. What are we to do?
TURN TO GOD
With such a big question and a big goal, we rightly turn to God who alone is “big enough” to handle the problem. Surely, God sees more trouble than we! Surely, God knows the heartache and hunger of poverty, the pain of broken homes, the distraught suffering with mental illness, and 100 others that we can’t imagine. So, what did God do?
God sent a preacher. It may sound crazy to a world which, in a rush to secular humanism, has ran from God, truth, and the power of the spoken word. Yet, this is what God did. One of the most popular sayings about Jesus is: “God had but one Son, and he was a preacher.” It’s really popular among preachers.
The word “preaching” is found about 25 times in the Bible. One of its most notable usages is found in 1 Corinthians 1:21, where Paul tells us that, “…it was God’s good pleasure through the foolishness of the preaching to save them that believe.” The early Christians were known for many things, but a survey of the book of Acts reveals that “they went everywhere preaching the word” (Acts 8:4).
Another famous sermon is the expository sermon on Isaiah 61 by Jesus in Luke 4:16ff. This is an incredible sermon because Jesus is himself the subject of this prophecy from Isaiah. It surely would have been amazing to have witnessed that event, but it is also amazing to see it lived out. Although the prophecy is about the work of Christ, Christians are to continue the same work of God which was begun in Christ.
LET US PREACH WELL FOR WELLNESS
God says the preaching which will change the world is to “bring good news to the poor” (Is. 61:1). This is a common theme in the life of Christ who taught all people regardless of social status. However, we again see this special focus on the “poor in spirit” who are promised the “kingdom of Heaven” in Matthew 5:3. We are thankful to be able to preach Jesus “who was rich but became poor so that we might be rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). This is the Gospel that makes one rich without money. It si the Gospel that gives the true riches of grace, mercy, peace, faith, hope, and love.
This preaching which will change the world is to “bind up the broken hearted” (Isaiah 6:1). The words “broken hearted” translate a Hebrew word which means “to break in pieces” (BDB). This type of preaching is preaching about Jesus—the Great Physician. Those whose hearts have been broken into pieces can find refuge and repair in the God of all comfort who comforts us in all our affliction (2 Corinthians 1:3). Hope for the broken hearted is always offered by the “man of sorrows” as he was “acquainted with grief” he knows by experience how to empathize with our trials. He also has given us the victory over the world’s greatest sorrows by defeating sin and death on the cross and out of the tomb.
This preaching is also to “proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to those who are bound” (Isaiah 6:1). “The proclaiming of perfect liberty to the bounden, and the year of acceptance with Jehovah, is a manifest allusion to the proclaiming of the year of Jubilee by sound of trumpet. This was a year of general release of debts and obligations, of bond men and women, of lands and possessions, which had been sold from the families and tribes to which they belonged. Our Saviour, by applying this text to Himself, Luke 4:18, 19, a text so manifestly relating to the institution above- mentioned, plainly declares the typical design of that institution.” Lowth. (John Peter Lange et al., A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Isaiah (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2008), 658–659.)
In Isaiah 61:2 we begin to see the complete reversal of sin’s consequences coupled with the exaltation of God’s people thought the Messiah. Isaiah wrote, “To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord And the day of vengeance of our God”. This is salvation is seen in the following:
- comfort v.2
- gladness v. 3
- praise v. 3
- righteousness v. 4
- praise of God v, 4
- priests of the Lord v. 6
- ministers of God v. 6
- a double portion of joy v. 7
This is what happens for the lost person when they are found in Christ. Ephesians 2 records that though we were “dead in our trespasses and sins” (2:1), we are now blessed “with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:3).
This is why preaching is so important. The importance rests in its power—the Gospel. The Gospel is “the power of God that leads to salvation” (Romans 1:16). So if we want to change the world, we must preach the life changing and soul saving Gospel.
REMEMBER TO LIVE WELL
However, Gospel preaching isn’t enough. We must also have Gospel living. Too many times preaching and preachers have been voided by a life poorly lived. The words of hope have been crossed out by a life of sin. We must remember to live well.
One day St. Francis of Assisi said to one of the young monks at the Portiuncula, “Let us go down to the town and preach!” The novice, delighted at being singled out to be the companion of Francis, obeyed with alacrity. They passed through the principal streets, turned down many of the byways and alleys, made their way into the suburbs, and at great length returned by a circuitous route to the monastery gate. As they approached it, the younger man reminded Francis of his original intention.
“You have forgotten, Father, that we went to the town to preach!”
“My son,” Francis replied, “we have preached. We were preaching while we were walking. We have been seen by many; our behavior has been closely watched; it was thus that we preached our morning sermon. It is of no use, my son, to walk anywhere to preach unless we preach everywhere as we walk.” ( Robert J. Morgan, Nelson’s Complete Book of Stories, Illustrations, and Quotes (electronic ed.; Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000), 274.)
We are commanded to “Let your light so shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in Heaven” (Matthew 5:16). A life of good works is the perfect vessel for the Gospel of Christ.
As we often say, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” We might also say, “People don’t care what you teach, until they know you live what you teach.”
In order to save the world, God sent a preacher. That preacher trained other preachers. This was the Great Commission in action.Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Here is our challenge as well. To become a disciple and servant of the Lord. Then to preach the Gospel. Having preached, we teach those who receive the Word of the Lord to continue in making disciples themselves.
D.L. DeBord, M.Div.