Are you a pastor or an elder who regularly gives himself to preaching the Word? Perhaps you’re an evangelist who labors in preaching. How often do you anticipate miracles when you preach? No, I’m not referring to signs and wonders, but I’m talking about something much bigger than speaking in tongues and the healing of a blind man—I’m talking about a resurrection. In fact, I’m referring to the new birth where a dead sinner is resurrected from the dead and reconciled to God.
One of the fundamental differences between teaching and preaching is that while both forms of communication deliver information, it’s in the preaching of the gospel that we are calling for a verdict. How often does the preacher enter the pulpit with a proper focus on the material that he has studied and prepared to deliver without looking into the eyes of the people and expecting a miracle? It was said of Charles Spurgeon that each time he approached the pulpit, at each stair as he ascended the sacred desk he was repeating, “I need the Holy Spirit, I need the Holy Spirit.”
When Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, he talked about the ministry of reconciliation and the message of reconciliation. It was through the ministry and the delivery of this message (the message of the cross) that dead sinners are awakened by the Spirit of God (2 Cor. 5:18-21). If God is the One who raises the dead, why do we not preach with an expectant heart that God can do it again during the preaching of the gospel each time we stand before a congregation? Have we become more focused on our delivery style, our eloquence, our illustrations, or the enticing words of man’s wisdom?
Far too often, preachers labor in the office to craft their sermon, but not much time is spent in prayer as the preacher walks to the pulpit. In many cases the preacher prepares to speak well, but he doesn’t expect for God to do the unexpected. We must remember that preaching a good sermon is possible, but it requires the miracle of God to bring a lost sinner out of darkness into the marvelous light of Christ. Remember, as Charles Spurgeon once said in his sermon from Hosea 14:1-3 on Sunday, March 1st 1891—”The first motion toward reconciliation is never from the sinner, but always from God.”
I can no more make someone come to Christ and be reconciled to God than I can to stand in a cemetery across the road from our church campus and call dead people to come from the ground. I can’t do it. Only God can raise the dead physically and only God can raise the dead spiritually. That’s what the new birth is—a spiritual resurrection. Therefore fellow ambassador, remember that you are unable to perform the miracle of the new birth, but God can, and when you preach the gospel anticipate the impossible, because with our God all things are possible.
Ephesians 2:1–9 — And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.