Conclusion : ‘He must increase, I must decrease.’

These words of John the Baptist, John 3:30, which refer to the Lord Jesus perhaps sum up the deficiency of much of the preaching in the Gospel Standard churches. Much of the error in the denomination, as I have sought to point out, is in the imbalance, and in the fruit which this produces. They have too much over-reaction against erroneous teaching elsewhere which, as they seek to counter, causes them to err far too much the opposite way in so many things. I believe they have lost the simplicity, the singleness, that is in Christ as they dampen down faith for fear of presumption; over-concentrate on experience to keep themselves from being supposedly too letterish or legalistic, thereby limiting direct exhortation; and emphasise the sovereignty of God to such a degree to counter, rightly, the gross error of free will, that they almost make God the author of their own unbelief and disobedience, forgetting that ‘God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil’; regardless, again, of how many ‘blessings’ they may have received, Eccl. 12:13,14.

This is because a lot of what is heard from the pulpits centres on ‘ourselves’, how being called under the gospel makes us feel; whereas there is generally a lack of any orderly exposition of the doctrines of the gospel – that is, of preaching Christ in particular. Preach Christ and him crucified – in all the fulness of what that means – and souls will be converted unto him; but keep the preaching mainly on the level of the experiences that the converted are likely to have, then power will be severely limited.

The Spirit’s work, which the people are told so often, is ‘to take of the things of Jesus and to reveal them unto us’, cp. John 16:14,15. But they get less of those ‘things’ preached in preference for the things they are to look for in themselves. The Spirit, said Jesus, will ‘glorify me’, but instead of the preaching, to use another of their phrases, ‘lifting up a precious Christ[1], and laying the sinner low’, in that order – akin to John the Baptist’s statement at the head of this chapter, they get, more often than not, the reversal of that. The sinner is constantly laid low, low, low, whereas Christ and his glorious salvation is so often merely pointed to in general terms as the only answer or remedy, but rarely expounded for what it is. If it was then the people would be quickly drawn away from self to Christ. This is a scriptural principle, and a very trustworthy one.

The children of Israel in the wilderness knew they had been bitten of fiery serpents, had no need of Moses to describe the symptoms of their sin to them, they already felt it, but instead were bidden to look away from self to the serpent of brass. As Moses ‘made’ the serpent and put it on a pole, with the accompanying exhortation to ‘look and live’, so the preacher is to ‘expound the doctrine of Jesus Christ and him crucified’ with the attendant call to flee from self to him. But how can one flee to Christ if he is not sufficiently ‘increased’ in the preaching? They often sing, but generally do not do, ‘Pore not on thyself too long… look to Jesus’; but who can look to a name, so often just mentioned rather than expounded, until they are given a fuller understanding of who that Person is, and of what he has actually done. There is little attractiveness in a name – even in natural things – until the character and work of that person is drawn to the attention. So if a minister raises up in the eyes and ears of faith a picture, by preaching, of this wonderful Person and work of the Saviour, then those who need him will, under the Spirit’s anointing and leading, be drawn to him for who he is in and of himself, and for what he has wrought. There is the attractiveness of the Saviour.

This way of preaching is abundantly manifest in the Book of Acts. All the way through we can see that the apostles constantly ‘preached Christ’ unto the people. In just chapters 8 and 9, for instance, we read the following: ‘Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them’, 8:5. ‘…Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ…’ 8:12. ‘And they, when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans’, 8:25. ‘Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus’, 8:35. ‘And straightway [Paul] preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God ’, 9:20. ‘And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus…’ 9:29.

There is such an abundance of wonderful doctrine, called ‘the doctrine of Christ’, to be expounded: of his origins in deity and from all eternity; of his humility in the Godhead, of his ‘taking upon him the form of a servant’ in the eternal purpose of redemption – read Philippians 2:5-8 carefully; of his incarnation, his real and sinless humanity, and thus of the mystery of his Person; of his humility and obedience to the Father, and of what is called ‘the faith of Jesus Christ’. Indeed, what, in the whole body of doctrine in the gospel of Christ, is the difference between ‘the faith of Jesus Christ’, and ‘the faith of the Son of God’? I don’t think I’ve ever heard the difference recognised in the chapels, let alone expounded.

Then there is the work of the cross: we are often told that ‘Christ died for our sins’, and that is true; but what does it mean in all its fulness? What does it mean that he was ‘made sin’, as well as that he ‘bare our sins in his own body’? What different aspects of the work of the cross are signified by the broken body and the shed blood? Why is it that Paul testifies to the Galatians that all his glory was in ‘the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ’, spends much of the epistle dealing with the Christian’s relationship to the law in the context of being crucified with Christ, and yet refers not once to the blood of the cross? How then does the doctrine of ‘Christ crucified’ without reference to the shedding of blood apply to us? cp. also Romans 6.

And as to the blood, what do the phrases ‘the blood of Christ… the blood of the covenant… the blood of his cross… the blood of sprinkling… the blood of Jesus Christ his Son… mean in their different aspects of the whole doctrine; especially in relation to the righteousness of God? How were Jesus’ ‘wounds’ related to our transgressions, and his ‘bruises’ to our iniquities? – or was Isaiah just using poetical language. Indeed, what is the difference, is there a difference, between transgressions, iniquities, trespasses, debts, sins and sin? The preaching of the gospel answers these questions.

Again, how does the work of the cross apply our salvation in relation to the body of sin, to the flesh, to the old man and our natural generation in Adam; to Satan, to the wrath of God, to the law, the enmity, the warfare, and to the world? What and how much was finished when Jesus cried, ‘It is finished’? Why are two of his cries from the cross addressed to his ‘Father’, but another one to ‘My God’? What is the doctrine which explains that Christ and the Father are one, therefore one God, and yet the Saviour was forsaken by his God upon the cross? All these things, and more – of his resurrection, ascension and glorification; of his people’s union with him in these things; of his present work of building his church, of his mediation and intercession, of his sovereignty as the ‘all powerful’ Lord of history in his administration of the affairs of men and nations in the accomplishing of his purposes, Rev. 5, and of his coming again as the Saviour of his people and judge of all the earth – rightly expounded – encompassing the mystery of godliness, the mystery of Christ (Oh, what abundance there is! John 1:16) – constitute the preaching of ‘the gospel of Christ’ in something close to its fulness.

This is why I contend that, generally speaking, the GS gospel is so inadequate, and is so shallow when it degenerates into this ‘What a mercy… brought to feel… sweet manifestation…’ message, mostly on the level of the hearer’s experience, that one can hardly call it the gospel at all. But one revelation of Christ to the inner man, one desire raised up in the heart of the need of him as he is preached and his work of salvation expounded, then light will enter, the sinner will be convicted of what he is, will be laid low, and will cause him to flee to the Saviour for mercy. ‘He must increase’ first and foremost; then, and only then, will ‘I decrease.’

Thus my contention throughout this treatise has been that the gospel of Christ itself is actually rarely preached: and a look at Paul’s definition in Romans 1 of what this gospel is, and of its fruit, will bear this out.

But I have missed something here. For I have been presuming that the hearer in the congregation is under conviction of sin, and knows he is a sinner; for only those need the gospel of Christ preached to them. What about all those who are just sitting there week by week spiritually dead and unconcerned; who count their chapel-going and ‘unworldliness’ as somehow pleasing to God, and, in effect, to be the extent of their religion? What would they benefit from hearing of Christ? Nothing whatsoever. They don’t need him, have no desire for him, nor for anything he came to accomplish. ‘Eating his flesh and drinking his blood’ is alien to their thinking, let alone to their desires. They may be looking for some sort of blessing from someone they imagine to be the Lord Jesus, but as we have seen, they are on the wrong way altogether.

So is there anything in the gospel of Christ which is relevant to these? Yes, there is. ‘The wrath of God is revealed’ upon them in their sin, rebellion and wilful ignorance of the truth. This is the beginning of the gospel which Paul sets forth in the first chapter of Romans. Read it for yourselves, those of you who are unconcerned and lethargic regarding the state of your own soul, and are careless about eternity and a seeking after the true and living God.

Now, as it is my contention that Christ himself is rarely preached – as described in the previous few paragraphs – so I suggest also that the doctrine which reveals the extent to which man is fallen is not expounded either: that is, a description in the preaching of what a sinner really is. You will hear abundant references to ‘poor sinners’, or ‘miserable worms of the earth’, but what you are much less likely to hear is a scriptural exposition of what man in sin actually is. Verses like Jeremiah 17:9 are quoted or repeated but rarely expounded. The hymn-writer is vainly repeated: ‘Sin is mixed with all we do’, without realising the statement to be erroneous; for out of Christ all that we are is sin, let alone all that we do; for we live in sin; if sin is merely ‘mixed’ in with all that we do then some of what we do cannot be said to be sin. But Ecclesiastes 12:14 quoted above says that every work will be brought into judgment whether it be ‘good’ (in our own estimation) or evil. After all, in reality, there is none that doeth good, as well as there being none intrinsically righteous: no, not one. Therefore I believe that, generally speaking, the people in the pew – as a result of the preaching alone – just do not know what they are, under the title ‘sinner’.

One who seeks Christ for salvation is an alarmed, awakened sinner who feels and knows there is something wrong with his very nature – above and beyond realising and acknowledging that he has ‘done wrong things’ – that is, committed sins. To be ‘in sin’ is to be in a certain state by nature, not just to be someone who doesn’t go to chapel, who mows his lawn on a Sunday, or who doesn’t conform to the outward image and tradition of the denomination. To be a sinner, to be outside of Christ, is in very nature to be a depraved, godless wretch even before one commits actual sins. We, as natural Pharisees, love to judge by outward appearance and action, so that we can conclude one to be a worse sinner than another because he commits more, or more heinous sins; but this is to miss the fact that regardless of these things, we are all born ‘in sin’. So in Romans 6:1-3 Paul writes that we are either ‘in sin’, or ‘in Jesus Christ’; these being absolute and complete states in and of themselves, with each being the total opposite of the other; and the apostle in his doctrine does not allow, nor can there actually be, a ‘mixing’ of the two.

To be in sin is to be ‘in the flesh’ as a way of life; it is to be totally governed by natural desires and self-centredness; it is to be indwelt by ‘the prince of the power of the air’, who continually enflames and fans the thoughts, desires and workings of the flesh and of the old nature; whether or not the person holds an outwardly religious form. The apostle says that this malevolent creature ‘now worketh in’ those described as ‘the children [lit. sons] of disobedience.’

Now if the reader is as yet ‘outside of Christ’ then these things apply to you. Romans 1 describes you as having a heart which is darkened, affections which are vile, and a mind which is reprobate. Your very being, completely, is filled to the brim with ‘all unrighteousness’ and every form of wickedness imaginable. As a result you are without understanding regarding anything spiritual and, although you may have a form of godliness, you hold the truth – lit. ‘hold it down’ – in unrighteousness. Paul goes on in his doctrine to say that all your judging of others – especially in religious things – is hypocritical, for you are guilty of the very same things. So when you turn to the law to live by – as you naturally do outside of a life of faith – you fall short of every command and yet condemn others who likewise fall short! You ignore heart sins and judge only by outward appearance.

If this were not enough Paul also unleashes a battery of condemnation from the old testament scriptures which none of us can gainsay – at least, not in our closet before God: we are unrighteous; we have no understanding; we seek not after God; we are all gone out of the way; we are together become unprofitable; none of us do any good; our throats, tongues, and lips are described respectively as ‘open sepulchres’, ‘deceitful’, and the harbours of ‘the poison of asps’ – that is, ‘of the serpent’. Is it any wonder then that our mouths, by this nature, are ‘full of cursing and bitterness’, and our ‘feet are swift – always ready – to shed blood’; all the ways of our life add up to ‘destruction and misery’; the ‘way of peace’ we have never known; all of which proves that, as children of Adam, lovers of the flesh, and serfs of Satan, ‘there is no fear of God before our eyes’, Romans 1:18 – 3:20.

This is the testimony of scripture, and this is the beginning of a right exposition of the gospel! To the careless reader – to the unregenerate reader – then it must be said, that despite all your chapel-going and respectable outward appearance, you are the enemy of God; you actually hate him and everything that pertains to him. You hate his righteousness, his law, his judgments, his prophets, and you don’t believe his truth. Moreover you hate his Son, and despise the very fact that he came, and the reason for his coming: because it condemns you, John 7:7.

Every time you open the Bible and fail to believe, that is, fall under the truth of what you read there, you despise and reject the testimony of the Holy Ghost who wrote it. Every time you hear the word of the truth of the gospel – even if it is only in the letter of it – you stop your ears and will not obey it. Being outside of Christ makes you nothing but a hypocrite every time you walk into chapel, open your Bible, sing a hymn, bow your head ‘in prayer’, put on a ‘solemn’ voice, or act ‘religious’ in any way whatsoever. In fact, in repeatedly doing these things you add sin to sin, and confirm your condemnation by so many degrees of magnitude.

But I am only speaking from experience; for when the Lord first spoke to me by his word all these things began to come to light in me, of which I had been totally ignorant until then; and that with a lifelong profession of Christianity and a ‘belief’ in Jesus! For one day as I was reading the scriptures, these words of the Lord Jesus suddenly struck me, ‘I that speak unto thee am he’, John 4:26, which immediately caused a well of unbelief to bubble up from the depths of my being, these words springing from my lips: ‘Well, what an arrogant thing to say! Who does he think he is?’ There I was, a Bible-believing Christian; a baptized believer; a member of the church; but as soon as the Lord spoke and revealed himself I was exposed as being nothing but a raging hypocrite: deceived, full of presumption, dead, an unbeliever, totally ignorant of Christ, ignorant of my own nature, lost and undone; and then, presently, completely overthrown by Matthew 7:21-23. Now although this was a work of the Lord wrought in me without, at the time, even sitting under a faithful gospel ministry, still, sinnership must be expounded in the preaching.

But as to the ‘positive’ part of the gospel – the actual message of salvation in Christ alone, which is what I also mourn the absence of in chapel – how does the apostle speak of that? First of all, Rom. 1:16, he does call it ‘the gospel’. The Greek word translated ‘gospel’ literally means ‘good message’; the word ‘good’ having the underlying meaning of ‘completely’ or ‘fully furnished’. Therefore the gospel is the full and complete message of God, which, in its very nature and character, is good, as God is good; and is God’s way of bringing the knowledge of salvation to his own as they hear it and receive it.

The word is sometimes translated ‘good news’, or ‘glad tidings’; and it is true to say that when one receives the knowledge of salvation, is set at liberty from the bondage of guilt and condemnation under the preaching of the gospel, it has come as good news, or glad tidings. But strictly speaking the essence of ‘news’ is that it remains fresh and new for only a short period of time, soon to become ‘old news’ and no longer relevant to the present situation. But the gospel, to the child of God, is never old and out of date; for it is that message concerning Christ which is ever new, relevant and needful to hear and feed upon.

So this gospel is ‘the gospel of Christ’; the gospel of God concerning his Son Jesus Christ, Rom. 1:1-3. As we have seen, the gospel is a declaration of Christ, of his Person and work. It is an opening up of the complete body of doctrine – the doctrine of Christ – concerning him; the effect of which is the calling of his people, the imparting of faith, the witness of the Spirit, with all other related ‘experiences’ naturally following. Therefore it is not now a declaration of man in sin, but of the One who saves.

Thus when preached, this gospel of Christ does come with power, for it is ‘the power of God’; God has invested great power in the gospel of his Son; under its sound the dead are raised! And how can a gospel which is Christ’s own message not come with power, if he is who he says he is – God the Son, and if at this very moment he has ‘all authority in heaven and in earth’ to send men to preach his gospel, Matt. 28:18-20. It simply must do, for the Greek word translated ‘power’ in Rom. 1:16 is the word from which we get our words ‘dynamic’, ‘dynamite’, and ‘dynamo’! There is therefore no little power to be found in the gospel of the Son of God!

Next, and therefore, this gospel issues at last – it must issue – in salvation, for it is the power of God ‘unto salvation’; it is preached in order that men might be saved. A ‘gospel’ message preached which does not save is, by definition, no gospel. Let us be clear: the word ‘little’ cannot be associated with Christ and his salvation in any way whatsoever. If one has merely been ‘raised up to a little hope’ under the preaching then that preaching is not the gospel of Christ, and the Saviour preached is not the Jesus revealed in the New Testament. In the denomination many will sing with their lips ‘Jesus is a mighty Saviour’, hymn 593, who will never confess him actually to be such in their own experience; by which they denigrate him to being, presumably, only a small saviour at best – one without the power actually to save ‘to the uttermost’, or to assure ‘much’. Therefore their singing these words is nothing but ‘taking the name of the Lord in vain’, for their testimony denies what they presume to sing. But the true gospel brings a salvation which is equal in character to the God who sends it: ‘so great’, Heb. 2:3. Oh, where is the vision, the revelation of these things?! Prov. 29:18.

Furthermore, this message of salvation is so ‘to every one that believeth’ – to every one with faith. In this sense the gospel is not a ‘good message’, or ‘the power of God’, to any that believe not, but to those ‘believing’ already, cp. 1 Peter 1:5; after all Paul had just written to these saints at Rome that ‘I am ready to preach the gospel to you’, verse 15. He wasn’t writing to encourage them to gather as many unbelievers together as they could for his visit so that he could preach the gospel to them to ‘get them saved’, but that they, the saints, were to be the beneficiaries of his gospel preaching – ‘to every one that believeth.’ Paul wrote the same thing to the Corinthians: ‘It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe’, 1 Cor. 1:21; cp. also verse 18 of that chapter.

When we see Romans 1:16 like this we begin to realise that the salvation to which it refers is actually the full and final salvation which the believing ones – they that endure and continue to the end – expect to receive at the appearing of the Lord Jesus on the last day. This is why I referenced 1 Peter 1:5 above. The saints need to hear and feed upon the gospel of Christ constantly, for it is ‘the power of God’ that keeps them ‘unto salvation, ready to be revealed’! And this gospel is also the ‘power’ of ‘godliness’ which is in fact ‘denied’ by all those who only hold to the outward form, 2 Tim. 3:1-5.

To the testimony of Romans 1:16 can be added what Paul reveals in the aforementioned 1 Thessalonians 1:5: that his gospel – the gospel of Christ – when preached by men sent of Christ to preach it, never comes merely ‘in word only’, like it almost universally does today, but ‘in power’ – again – ‘and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance’. Those two ‘ands’ make Paul’s a single statement; one which cannot be broken into separate or individually applied parts. When the gospel comes it does come in power, in the Holy Ghost, in much assurance; it cannot do anything other. Not in power only – that is, a titillation of the natural intellect ‘in word only’, or in the power of the skills of the natural persuasion of men who preach ‘powerfully’, while remaining devoid of the Holy Ghost; but in real power, because it is in the Holy Ghost, cp. 1 Peter 1:12, Acts 4:31. Holy Ghost empowered preachers who preach not just in word only, but whose gospel preaching really does issue in ‘much assurance’ – that is, much assurance! – not ‘little hope’ – as well as in genuine and sustained salvation.

These then are the fruits of the true preaching of the gospel of Christ to every one that believeth: Power, Salvation, Much Assurance – but where one is going to find this gospel preached today, I know not. Any other fruit to ‘gospel preaching’ heard of in the churches and chapels cannot, then, be said to be genuine gospel fruit.[2] Now let the readers judge by this scriptural definition whether or not the preaching they sit under is a declaration of the gospel of Christ, and whether the man or men in your pulpits who profess to be sent really are.

But as all this is something of the fruit of the preaching of the gospel of Christ, then what actually is that message itself? Continuing our reference to Paul’s epistle to the Romans the answer is found from chapter 3 verse 21 onwards. The gospel of our salvation is the declaration that Christ has brought in nothing less than the righteousness of God, by his blood alone, by faith alone, and without recourse to the law:

‘But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus…’ etc. Rom. 3:21-26; cp. also Rom. 1:17.

Please read carefully and meditate upon every word of those verses: and do so on the basis of the meaning of the words themselves, and not with any preconceived notions of what they supposedly mean based on what you have absorbed from the denominational, and indeed, the ‘reformed’ slant. I know this will be hard to do, but if, by the grace of God, you can received Paul’s doctrine, then I guarantee it will come to you as nothing short of a revelation. Why? Because I feel persuaded that a passage like this has rarely if ever been rightly expounded in the chapels; for it has to do with ‘the faith of Jesus Christ’ in relation to justifying righteousness; and I know that I never heard this doctrine expounded rightly in all my time in the denomination. (Selah.)

But as to the more general style of preaching in the chapels: how many ministers today can say with Paul – and pastors at least are in a position to do such – ‘For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God’? But they cannot do it, because their tradition won’t allow them. If a pastor, for instance, felt led to preach through a book, an epistle, or extended passage of scripture in something of a ‘systematic’ way to teach the people and bring out a fuller understanding of the doctrines of the gospel contained therein, there would soon be disquiet among the people, because that is bound to militate against ‘freshly received’ words[3], is bound to be dry and letterish, and cannot possibly hope to be very experimental! – although exercised in the power of the Spirit I don’t know why that should be the case. So the poor minister has to flit around the pages of scripture from one ‘text’ to another, preaching to the same people week by week sermons that very often have no connection with last week’s or next week’s message. The outcome of this is that the people rarely get any text in a broader context – sometimes the ‘text’ is only a two or three word phrase taken in isolation[4] – many chapters of the Bible become only recognisable for a few GS-type texts that might be found in them; certain texts often don’t connect in the people’s minds with other ‘famous’ verses which might be just over the page, and there is little hope of covering many major doctrines of the gospel as the same type of texts – our type – come up again and again.

But there is a great deficiency in all this. Anyway, is the word of God just a ‘text’ book? Did the Spirit inspire random truths to be dotted around the Book in a haphazard way? Is there no order to the revelation? Are we just to pick out our favourite denominational themes from the scriptures and leave the rest to the letter-learned? Should there be no order in the gatherings together of God’s people? Did Paul spend three years at Ephesus not shunning to declare unto them all the counsel of God; and eighteen months at Corinth teaching the word of God among them with no order? Are we led to believe from the testimony of scripture that the apostle was often found pacing up and down before the out-called gathered together wringing his hands wailing, ‘I’ve got no text! I’ve got no text!’ No. How can a gospel minister have ‘no text’! Paul always had his text; it was the gospel! All of it. Ministers aren’t to trawl the Bible week by week desperately looking for a text, they’re supposed to preach the gospel! Or as the apostle commanded the young minister: ‘Preach the word’, not just seek a word to preach from! Surely this denominational style of preaching is a disorderly way to go about things. But meanwhile, Paul did have his order, and it was true Spirit-led order at that. But there can be no real order where men’s paralysing traditions hold sway.

But to preach Christ is to preach all the scriptures, for the Saviour is found in all the scriptures, John 5:39, Luke 24:25-27,44,45. And the Spirit guides his people into all truth, not just into denominationally defining truths. Pastors, at least, are supposed to be ‘pastors and teachers’, Eph. 4:11, opening up the doctrines of the gospel thereby accomplishing the reason for their calling, verses 12-16; cp. also Col. 1:25-29. But then how can they do these things unsent? And here again is the crux of the matter. Surely a truly sent minister will preach something approaching the fulness of the gospel of Christ because he’s been taught it himself! But if a man preaches to ‘please men’ in the continuation of denominational traditions then, quite simply, he is not called of Christ to preach; Gal. 1:10. And what a snare such a man is in.

What the Lord’s people hunger for is true preaching, delivered by men evidently separated by the Lord unto himself; who have, in some measure, ‘beheld his glory’ – after all his name is Wonderful! – have been taught of him – that is, they preach what they have learned of him by revelation, rather than just repeat the received party line absorbed from their youth up from the teaching of men, Gal. 1:11,12, employing the same old tired denominational phrases and clichés – which, after a while, begin to kill the hungry child of God who longs for the bread and water of life – who are enabled to give themselves totally to labouring in the word and doctrine, studying to show themselves approved unto God, workmen that need not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth, 2 Tim. 2:15, 1 Tim. 4:13-16 (cp. Matt. 9:37,38 for that word ‘labourers’ again), who preach fearlessly an unadulterated gospel which truly does take forth the precious from the vile – they thus being ‘as my mouth’, saith the LORD, Jer. 15:19; men that care nothing for denominational traditions, but who preach the word of God as it is; who really do preach ‘Jesus Christ, and him crucified’ in the power of the Holy Ghost.

Hearken unto the Father declaring from glory: ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.’ The Lord’s people look to him to raise up men in our day through whom he speaks; that we might hear his voice, feed on him; and, together, rejoice in him, the God of our salvation.

 

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[1] A dreadful cliché. Fancy employing the indefinite article ‘a’ when referring to the Lord of glory!

[2] From time to time one will hear of ‘fruit’ to the ministry. But more often than not this fruit is simply the making of proselytes for the denomination, cp. Matt. 23:15. But just because someone ‘joins the church’ doesn’t necessarily mean they believe the truth savingly; it may mean they’ve simply come into the denominational way of thinking, reasoning and believing.

[3] It is the professed tradition of the GS minister to wait week by week for ‘a word’ to come upon which to preach. In this he likes to equate himself with the prophets of old who only spoke when they had a ‘thus saith the Lord’. Often a sermon will begin with the minister’s relating how his text ‘came’, using phrases like ‘this word dropped in’, or ‘I believe the Lord has laid this word upon my heart’, therefore very subtly binding the people to the man’s ministry as having come directly from the Lord himself, who then can never be questioned. If the word preached leaves the hearer cold, or if nothing ‘comes with power’, then the fault is always presumed to be in the hearer and never in the minister. As the minister is forbidden by GS tradition from using notes in the pulpit, and as the majority of the preachers seem to despise ‘learning’ then study, labouring in the word, cp. Matt. 9:37,38, and any idea of systematic teaching is frowned upon. If request would be made for something a bit more orderly in the preaching from week to week then the reply would probably be that they can only ‘go with what they are given’; they not desiring to quench the Spirit by getting too letterish in the preaching. But come a thanksgiving service and, lo and behold! a thanksgiving text appears! Come a TBS meeting and a text on the Word of God appears! Come the end of December or a certain Sunday in March or April and texts on the Birth or Incarnation, and the Resurrection appear! So they can find something specific when they try.

[4] How many times has the reader heard a sermon preached on a text like ‘Fear not’, where the minister has spent forty five minutes describing numerous situations in which the child of God is fearful, punctuating each with ‘Fear not’, with the fruit being that just about every one has gone home saying, ‘Oh, he touched my case’! Did he really! But that’s not preaching the gospel – that’s, well, something akin to psychotherapy!

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