“I preached first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that all must repent of their sins and turn to God—and prove they have changed by the good things they do.” Acts 26:20 NLT
What a privilege to be counted as on of the preachers of this age. What a blessing . Paul says it better -“And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;”1 Tim 1:10.This message is NOT for every preacher, but for preachers who are called by God. There are preachers who called themselves, such are preaching whatever they like and bringing disdain to those called by God. They did not just call themselves they are reporting to Satan their master. This message is not for them because they have not repented themselves and if someone has not repented surely it will be anathema to preach repentance. So this message is for those who have repented and God has enabled them to be in ministry !In the passage the Holy Spirit wants us to focus on today, Paul mentions 4 important things about preaching. First- location, I preached in Damascus, Jerusalem etc. Second- audience, I preached to the Gentiles. Third- message, I preached that they must ALL repent of their sins. Fourth- goal, I expect the message to change them from their sinful lifestyle . Shouldn’t that be the template that we should use today for effective ministry ?Let’s start from number one.
1. Location . Where are you preaching? Are you where God wants you to be? Or is it your choice of convenience and comfort zone? Paul is always guided by where God wants him to preach, you too must. I used to be in Warri, Delta State of Nigeria in the 80s and 90s, many preachers left the rural and riverine people for Lagos. The motive was to “make money “ The language then was “Eko ni Olorun wa” meaning “God resides in Lagos “ or Lagos is where it is happening . Many died on the road and in the process some ministries never ‘prospered ‘in Lagos . Even where it seem to have ‘prospered’ it is surely in human eyes,self aggrandizement. It is important you are located where God wants you to be. Seek the face of God as to where God wants you to establish ministry- Damascus , Jerusalem etc. The whole earth must be covered and God does the distribution matrix, seek to locate your location .
2. Audience. Paul says “ he preached to Gentiles” You know that was the last thing Paul wanted to do. Paul wanted to be an apostle to the Jews. Space will not allow us to debate it. But even when Ananias was protesting his conversion God said – I am raising him up for the Gentiles! It was obvious Peter and co are too far gone Jewish for that assignment. God is still converting people for specific audiences. What does that mean to you? You are not called to preach to anybody or everybody, you are called to a people, a demography. Find that. You know why? If Paul and others only concentrated on Jews how will the Gentiles be saved? Let it be clear to you God wants the whole world to be saved, so he has mapped out how he wants to reach them and through whom he wants to reach them. If you reject your posting you are delaying the process, because God will have to raise up someone else to do it. His work is unstoppable but could be delayed because of you! Besides your delay could be catastrophic because people die every minute, every minute of your delay is populating hell at the expense of heaven .
3. Message.What is your message ? Do you preach what God sent you to preach or what you sent yourself to preach? Do you preach what the people want to hear or what God wants them to hear? Do you preach what in your thinking will enrich your pocket or what will enrich the life of the people? Do you preach repentance or materialism? Do you preach what is trending on social media or what heaven is declaring? Do you preach another gospel or the true gospel? Do you preach grace of hyper grace or ultra grace? Paul says – I preach repentance I guess because that is what Jesus our Master directed us to preach. “And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matt 10:7. Preach about the second coming of Christ. That only the truly repented will be part of the rapture. We all get so overwhelmed about what message to preach, because of the bastardization and branding of the preaching platform. I was in that position in 1987. At that time we heard a lot about the ministry of prosperity, ministry of healing , ministry of deliverance , ministry of faith etc. My wife and I went to fast for three days and nights, at the end God gave us this scripture “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;” 2Cor 5:18.We need to preach repentance so we could be reconciled to God and we can get the right results.
4. Goal- Paul described the expected outcome of the combination of the first three: “and prove they have changed by the good things they do”. Unfortunately, we are Not result driven or oriented in this generation. If we are, our message would have been focused on repentance! When the apostles preached repentance we did not just have thousands coming to the Lord we were told they were Christlike. If our preaching is not making the people Christlike then what we are preaching is not repentance . If our preaching is not changing them to do good things then we need to go back to the drawing board. I observed three negative things, yeah four that our preaching is producing today . Firstly and sadly we are producing people living their lives as if Christ does not matter. People who claim to be born again but need to be born again and again . Unfortunately we are producing armed robbers, kidnappers, divorcees, unrepentant sinners. Secondly, we are producing poorer and materialistic people instead of prosperous people. Our prosperity message is only making preachers richer and congregants poorer, that is the poorer poorer. It should not be so. Thirdly, church members who are committing suicide! Fourthly,and most dangerously we are producing Hell bound people!
What the Holy Spirt is saying today is
As you go to preach your next sermon, whether on social media or traditional pulpit preach that men shall repent from their sins! Let us go back to what matters, the conviction and conversion of the people . Preach what will lead to a changed life that will glorify God, make them better citizens on earth and prepare them as heavenly citizens as well. What is the point of our preaching if our members are not useful in the society? We were in Oslo, Norway early this month preaching, and one man said- the church does not have influence in the society today.?What a tragedy! Jesus said “for what does it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world (preach whatever he wanted as much as he wanted, to a large crowd or few people) and loose his/her own soul? And the congregants. The question you must ask yourself today “Is my preaching making the people to do good things?” If that cannot be answered positively, then go back to basic- preach that ALL must repent of their SINS! Shalom.