|Volume 19 Number 3 March 2017||
One might ask the question, “Why preach?” There are many preachers who have been asked this very question by family members, friends and even those in the community. To some, preaching may seem foolish (1 Corinthians 1:21), but to God it serves very important purposes.
First, preaching is the means used to demonstrate God’s power to save (Galatians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:4). Paul wrote, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16). God has commissioned Christians to deliver the Gospel message so men can hear God’s power to save and to be converted (Romans 10).
Second, preaching is used to edify. Paul indicated this purpose when he wrote, “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:15-16). One preaches to build the body up, which is confronted by a sinful world on a daily basis. The pressures that the Christian must face in everyday life are hard. Hearing God’s Word can help bear the weight of those trials and tribulations.
Third, the Word of God must be preached to convince and to convict people of their sins. Peter, when preaching to the Jews on the Day of Pentecost, was able to convince and convict the people. It is recorded in Scripture, “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:37-38). Peter further stated, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19). Through the Word of God, man is able to be converted from a world of darkness to a world of light. Peter wrote, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9). By converting one, you help cover a multitude of sins (James 5:19-20).
Why does God want you to preach and teach His Word? God’s Word is His power to save. God’s Word is able to edify His people, and His Word is able convince and to convict people of their sins.
The Prodigal Returns
His eyes were fixated on the pods on which the pigs were feasting. Drool formed across his lips as he fantasized about the pods bursting with flavor within his mouth. Had his life really come to this point? Not long before, he had popularity and wealth. Life was good, but then, the bottom fell out. He was now famished, dirty and envious of a pig’s lunch. He thought back and remembered all the delightful delicacies that were spread across his father’s table. Now, that was a feast, a feast he had too often taken for granted.
When he finally came to himself, he decided to return home and beg just to be a servant in his father’s house. That would be far greater than his current predicament. When he finally came to his father’s house, he could see his father running to meet him. Then, it was time for the speech he had been practicing all the way home. He told his father, “I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants” (Luke 15:19). His father would not hear of it. He was his son, and he was home! He was lost, and now he was found! It was time for a celebration. This celebration would involve fresh clothes, music, true friends and an abundance of food.
Perhaps, we have encountered individuals who have strayed away from the kingdom of our Lord. They, too, departed for new horizons of pleasure and self-satisfaction. All felt good for a season, but it wasn’t long before the rug was pulled out from beneath them, and the sting of sin set in. The Parable of the Prodigal Son teaches us a powerful lesson on the three-fold deception of sin.
First, sin is deceptive in duration. This is the quality of sin the devil himself wishes man would overlook. He wants man only to see the pleasure of sin. He wants man to lust for the distant city, thinking only of its potential for joy and gratification. If he can keep man focused on these things, then he will be sideswiped by the pig farm that awaits him.
Moses refused to fall into the devil’s trap of deceit. He knew that sin was a passing pleasure (Hebrews 11:25). He reasoned within himself that it was better to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasure of sin that Egypt had to offer.
What about us? What do we see when we are faced with temptation? Do we only see the pleasure of the moment, or do we see beyond the devil’s smokescreen? The Parable of the Prodigal Son reminds us what the devil wishes for us to forget. That is, sin always comes with a price. Paul wrote, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
Second, sin is deceptive in value. Consider this. If you had a brand-new Cadillac Escalade valued around eighty-three thousand dollars and someone were to offer you five-hundred dollars for it, would you take the deal? Of course not! Yet, each of us has something far greater in value than a Cadillac Escalade ever could be—a soul.
The devil comes along trying to offer us something far less in value in exchange for our very souls. Why would we ever take that deal? When we are faced with temptation, we should see it for what it truly is—an insult! Nothing the devil has to offer is worthy to be compared to eternal life that we have gained through Jesus. We do well to remember the words of Jesus who asked, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:36-37).
Finally, sin is deceptive in destiny. Nothing is worse than hitting rock bottom in life and thinking one is stuck there. The devil wants man to think there is no way out of the pig pen. He wants man to believe there is no way to ever be cleansed of the mud that saturates the flesh and tarnishes the soul. He wants man to believe that there will never be anything else to fill the empty void in our lives other than a meal fit for a pig.
Fortunately, there is a way out. Even when one has fallen for the vain promises of the world and has sunk into the deep pit of despair, there is still hope. Hope can be seen when one is willing to lift his eyes and peer through the devil’s deceitful fog. Hope can be obtained when one remembers the joy he once knew when in service to the Lord. Hope can be won when he dies to himself and the shackles of sin fall helplessly to the ground, and he begins the journey home.
When upon that journey home, one must never fear rejection from the Father. He awaits at the gate, longing for the return of His children. His deepest desire is to grant forgiveness and restoration for those who have returned to Him. Remember the words of Peter, “The Lord is not willing that any should perish, but all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). As long as there is the breath of life within one’s lungs and a beating heart in his chest, the prodigal can always return home.