‘Mrs. Whipple is one of the most comfortable people I know. … She didn’t force her beliefs on me and only spoke about Christianity when I brought up the subject….’
’I hope you’re not going to preach at me,’ cautioned the older lady. ‘That would not be ladylike.’
Isobel shook her head.
‘Mrs. Whipple didn’t do that to me, and I won’t do it to you.’
Mrs. Jackson laughed. ‘Well, I won’t get a better deal in town than that!’
. . . .
‘Are you sure it’s alright for me to stay, Mrs. Kuhn?’ a young American asked. … ‘I’m not a Christian. I don’t believe in it at all. I’m more interested in eastern religions. I want to find out more about them while I’m here. That’s an advantage of traveling around the world. You can find out what all sorts of people believe then make up your own mind.’
Her hostess wisely did not jump in with a sermon.
If this is the missionary’s life, I don’t want it. Both these women badly needed a sermon. The latter needed to know that “making up one’s own mind” is itself disobedience. Preaching is not unladylike either. Since when did society decide our obedience to the will of God?
There is a time and place for preaching, but few Christians recognize it. Preaching has a bad reputation today, partly because of the greedy apostates and unbelievers who fill that divine office. Others are sex-crazed or criminal. The same is true with prophecy. Many preachers and prophets today tell their listeners what they want to hear so they’ll receive large donations. They want other people’s money so that they can live well and get away with sin and crime.
Unbelievers don’t like bad preachers because they know the latter want their money or bodies. They don’t like good preachers because they don’t want to be reminded of their sins and God’s righteous judgment. Yet sin and judgment are just what unbelievers need to hear today. I believe preaching is the best way to do it. The goal is confession, repentance, and saving faith. Since when did we tell sinners what they want to hear and tickle their ears? That’s heresy!
For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. — 1 Corinthians 1:21
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. — 2 Timothy 4:3-4
- Noah preached. [He was the first.]
- David preached. So did his son Solomon, the “Preacher.”
- Jonah preached.
- John the Baptist preached.
- Jesus preached, even in hell. So did his twelve disciples while he was alive.
- After Jesus’ ascension, Peter and John preached. So did Paul, Barnabas, and Silas. So did Philip!
And what about prophecy?
- Enoch prophesied. [He was the first.]
- Moses prophesied.
- Hannah and her son Samuel prophesied.
- Elijah and Elisah prophesied.
- Nathan and Micaiah prophesied. So did all the Major Prophets and Minor Prophets.
- Zacharias and his son John the Baptist prophesied.
- Simeon and Anna prophesied.
- Jesus Christ prophesied. So did the apostles Paul and John.
What did these Bible saints preach and prophesy, both to sinners and to God’s people? They said that judgment is coming, but there is grace and forgiveness for those who repent. They also said that people must confess and repent of sin, then trust first in Jehovah and later Jesus Christ the Messiah for the soul’s salvation. Finally, they said that the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ (Romans 6:23). This is the gospel and the kingdom of God.
Not all Christians today have the divine gifts of preaching and prophecy. But if these Bible saints and Jesus Christ himself did so, then what about us? Christ told us to “go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). Peter was the first to recognize and obey this command (Acts 2:14f, 10:42). Paul told Timothy to “preach the Word” (2 Timothy 4:2).
Has the gospel changed? Has the Holy Spirit disappeared? Has the necessity of preaching gone by the wayside? I say no!
Howat, Irene. Isobel Kuhn: Lights in Lisuland. Fearn, Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 2001. [pp 16, 126]