The Importance Of Preaching
by Pastor Jack Hyles
(Chapter 17 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, Teaching On Preaching)
Several years ago a poll was taken among preachers concerning the different duties of the ministry: (1) administration, (2) teaching, (3) preaching, (4) pastoring, (5) priestly work, and (6) church business. The question was asked to hundreds of preachers, "What do you think is the most important of these ministries?" Overwhelmingly the response was, "Preaching."
The second question was asked: "Which occupies most of your time?" To that question the answer was overwhelmingly, "Administration," and preaching was last on the list.
How tragic! That which we feel is most important is what we do the least.
Oh, how America needs preaching! When John Knox left Scotland, the country had deteriorated morally and spiritually. Finally John Knox decided to return to Scotland. It is said that on every street corner the word was being spread, "Knox is coming! Knox is coming! Knox is coming!" The entire country was filled with electricity because the preacher was returning. Scotland needed Knox. England needed Spurgeon. America needed Moody, and this old sin-cursed world needs preaching again! In Isaiah 61:1, Isaiah called himself a preacher. In Luke 4:18 Jesus was a preacher. In II Peter 2:5 Noah was called "a preacher of righteousness." In Ecclesiastes 1:1 Solomon was called "the Preacher." In I Timothy 2:7 Paul said that he was "ordained a preacher." In Mark 1:14 we find that Jesus came to Galilee "preaching the Gospel." In Matthew 3:1a we find, "In those days came John the Baptist, preaching." In Jonah 3:2 Jonah was admonished to preach to Nineveh the preaching that God bade him to preach. Acts 8:4 says, "Therefore they that are scattered abroad went every where preaching the Word." In Acts 14:1 we find that they "so spake" that multitudes believed. Oh, how we need some "so-speakers!" Preaching is exactly that. It is "so-speaking."
The most important hour of the week in a nation is the hour when God's men approach the pulpit. Several years ago the mayor of our city called our offices. Our receptionist answered the phone, whereupon the mayor asked if he could speak with Jack. Our receptionist replied that there was no one here who answered to the name Jack. The mayor told her that there was such a person there, and that he was the pastor, and he said, "Let me talk to Jack!"
Our receptionist said, "Your honor; we have nobody here who answers to that name. We have a Brother Hyles, we have a Preacher Hyles, we have a Pastor Hyles, we have a Dr. Hyles, but no one answers to the name Jack."
The mayor told her that he wanted her to know that he was the mayor. She replied that she wanted him to know that she was the receptionist and that she would connect him to my office if he would call me the proper title! Finally he yielded and she put the call through. She was not being stubborn; she was simply giving to the preacher his proper position and to preaching its proper place!
Years ago I was on an airplane flying to Denver; Colorado. I sat down beside a man who appeared to be a businessman. He had on a very beautiful navy blue suit and was very neatly dressed. We talked for some time before we introduced ourselves by name. I finally asked him what business he pursued. He replied that he was a chemical engineer. He then asked me, "Do you know anything about chemistry?"
I replied, "Yes, I know a little." (I did know a little. I knew that H2O was water; that AU was gold, and that I dropped chemistry in college for the safety of the student body!) Re informed me that he was so impressed that a layman was knowledgeable about chemistry I assured him that I did know a little-a little is exactly what I knew! He called off a long formula and said, "What do you think about that?"
I replied, "I like the good in that formula, but I am concerned about the bad."
He said, "Put her there! That is exactly how I feel. I am so refreshed to know that you know a little about chemistry." He then called off another formula that made the other look very simple.. He said, "What do you think about that one?"
I said, "Well, I feel that we should not make an opinion on that one until we are sure and that a person should not make a hasty decision."
Again, he said, "Put her there! That's exactly how I feel. How refreshing it is to meet someone who is a layman who knows something about chemistry!"
Then he asked me the $64,000 question: "What is your business?" he asked.
I suddenly replied, "I am an ambassador."
He sat up in his seat and said, "Sir; do you mean that you are a real, live ambassador?"
I said, "That's exactly right."
He said, "I've never met an ambassador before. May I shake your hand?"
I said, "You certainly may" After we had shaken hands, he said, "Sir, let's get this straight. You mean your citizenship is in another country, and you represent a king here in America?" Well, praise God, that's exactly what I've been doing for years, so I said, "Yes, sir. My citizenship is in another country, and I represent a King in America!" He said, "Sir; could I ask you, what country and what king?" I replied that the country was Heaven and that the King was Jesus! He smiled and in fifteen minutes he too was an ambassador and a citizen of my country.
Years ago I read a famous Southern preacher's sermon entitled, "I Magnify Mine Office." How important it is to magnify the office of a preacher!
Preaching is teaching with a tear in the eye. Preaching is truth on fire. Preaching is the Word of God in the hand, the fire of God in the heart and the zeal of God in the soul. Preaching is the gift of God wrapped in an excited voice. Preaching is the moral conscience of a nation. Preaching is the soul of the church. Preaching is the throne room of society Preaching is the scepter and crown of the preacher. Preaching is the moral level of the succeeding generation. It was preaching that originally built our secular colleges. It was preaching that originally built our public school system. It was preaching that originally established our law system, and in the early days of our country, a degree in theology was a prerequisite to a law degree. Every great denomination was founded on preaching.
It was John Wesley who said, “I just set myself on fire and folks come to watch me as I burn.”
Sam Jones, the famous Methodist evangelist, went to a workers' conference one day with a friend. As they rode their horses home, Sam Jones looked to his friend and said, “I learned something today." His friend asked what he had learned, whereupon Sam Jones replied, “I learned that my pulpit is my throne, and I am a king.” Richard Baxter said, “I preached as never sure to preach again, as a dying man to dying men.”
John Hall said, “A strong and faithful pulpit is the safeguard to a nation's life.”
Thomas Betterton said, “Actors speak of things imaginary as if they were real; preachers speak of things real as if they were imaginary.”
Philip Brooks said, “Preaching is truth delivered through personality. Preaching is personal counseling on a group scale.”
Hugh Latimer said, “Preaching is the delivering of meat, not strawberries.”
John Newton said, “Preaching is breaking the hard heart and healing the broken one.”
William R. Nicoll said, “Of all vocations, the Christian ministry is the most sacred, the most exacting and the most humbling.”
Richard Whitely said, “Preach not because you have to say something but because you have something to say.”
Abraham Lincoln said, “When I hear a man preaching, I like to see him act as if he were fighting bees.”
Preaching is the answer. Let nothing take its place. Let no concert be given at preaching time. Let no cantata be given at preaching time. Let no movie substitute for the preaching of the Gospel. Let no vespers take the place of preaching. Let no play or dramatical presentation be given at preaching time. Preaching is the loftiest of the professions and the greatest of the arts.
Preaching is truth set on fire. Preaching is demolition of error. Preaching is doubt's healing balm. Preaching is the Holy Spirit's amplifier. Preaching is the Saviour's projector. Preaching is fact on fire and truth aflame. Preaching is worship's entree. Preaching is the adornment of the Bible. Preaching is the power of God unto salvation. Preaching is revival's forerunner. Preaching is the church's heart. Preaching is doctrine clothed in excitement. Preaching is love's smile. Preaching is sin's greatest adversary. Preaching is frustration's funeral. Preaching is doubt's demise. Preaching is fear's failure. Preaching is depression's death. Preaching is disappointment's decline. Preaching is faith's food. Preaching is profundity delivered in simplicity. Preaching was the first thing done by the Mayflower pilgrims. Preaching is the mender of broken relationships. Preaching is the healer of broken hearts. Preaching is the revival of broken dreams. Preaching is Hell's greatest enemy Preaching is the sinner's best friend. Preaching is the saint's dinner. Preaching is genius with a halo. Preaching is fire in the pulpit that melts the ice in the pew.
Preaching saved Nineveh, ignited Pentecost and turned the Judean wilderness into a Baptist revival.
When the man of God approaches the pulpit, let angels stop flying, let Heaven's hosannas hush, let adults hearken and children listen, let young people be alert, let E. F Hutton pay attention, let Heaven respond, let Hell tremble, let ushers sit down and listen, let the church wait in holy expectation, let all eternity tremble, let Satan and his angels be anointed with fear!
Oh, how I love preaching! I have preached on street corners. I have preached in jail houses. I have preached in taverns. I have preached in brush arbors. I have preached in tents. I have preached from the back of pick-up trucks. I have preached in city parks. I have preached in barber shops. I have preached in living rooms. I have preached on vacant lots. I have preached in school rooms. I have preached in city auditoriums. I have preached in coliseums. I have preached in football stadiums. I have preached in gymnasiums. I have preached in opera houses. I have preached in many of our states, including Hawaii and Alaska. I have preached in Canada, Mexico, Jamaica, the Bahamas, Jerusalem, Egypt, Japan, St. Thomas, Cyprus, Lebanon, Germany, Jordan and other countries around the world. Over 42,500 times I have stood and pro- claimed the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There is nothing like it! Thank God for preaching, and thank God for making me a preacher!
Years ago I was preaching in the city of Wichita, Kansas, at a convention. The convention was held in a beautiful church auditorium, but the preaching pulpit was over in a comer, and there was another pulpit in the other corner of the platform. I stood in the corner and tried to preach, but I simply could not do it. I had no other recourse. I just lifted up the pulpit and carried it to the middle of the platform and said, "Ladies and gentlemen, I simply cannot preach when preaching is put in the corner. I must preach when preaching is the center and the focal point of the service." Hallelujah for preaching!
Now I am not minimizing social work. I am not minimizing the importance of the Christian being involved in politics. I am not minimizing fighting for righteousness. I am simply exalting preaching. If I had my way, every tavern would be padlocked. If I had my way, prohibition would return to America. If I had my way, to make or sell alcoholic beverages would be a penitentiary offence. If I had my way, driving while intoxicated would be a major crime. If I had my way, one who killed another while under the influence of alcohol would be considered a murderer. If I had my way, every package store in America would close, and no stewardess would ever again walk down the aisle of an airplane serving alcoholic beverages! If I had my way, not one sweet woman would be hit again by a drunken husband. If I had my way, not one child would see his dad walk out. If I had my way, not one mother would be left to rear her children alone. If I had my way, no one who sits in Congress would be allowed to drink as he governs the affairs of our nation. If I had my way, no judge on a bench would be allowed to drink. If I had my way, no car would ever swerve, no hotel would have a lounge, no Playboy bunny would take liquid poison to tables of deceived customers, no TV screen would advertise John Barleycorn. If I had my way, not one child would be orphaned by alcohol, and the local tavern owner would not be a respected member of society. Yet, in spite of my hatred for the liquor traffic, we are not commanded in the Bible to work in Alcoholics Anonymous. We are not commanded to work in the Christian Temperance Union, though I am not opposed to those who work in either organization. We are not commanded to give our lives just to fighting liquor; but we are commanded to preach the Gospel and to preach righteousness. Preaching will close more taverns than Alcoholics Anonymous will, and it will dry up more cities than the Christian Temperance Union will.
If I had my way, every adult bookstore would be burned. If I had my way, every Playboy Magazine would be destroyed. If I had my way, all adult movie houses would be demolished. If I had my way, every curse word would be taken from radio and television. If I had my way, no filth would ever appear on television screens. If I had my way, every questionable book would be banned from the school room. If I had my way, every nude painting would be taken from our art galleries. If I had my way, every immoral professor would be fired. If I had my way, books like CATCHER IN THE RYE would be declared unfit for use. If I had my way, every Playboy Club would be closed, never to reopen. If I had my way, Penthouse and all other dirty magazines would be made fuel for a bonfire. If I had my way, all sexy and suggestive shows would be removed from radio and television. If I had my way, rock music would be banned from the department stores and shopping centers. If I had my way, our newspapers would be free of profanity, and I am for every anti-smut organization in America. I am for the Anti-Defamation League, I am for the Clean-Up Television movements. Yet, we are not commanded just to be moral reformers by supporting organizations that improve society, but we are commanded to preach!
If I had my way, every office in America would be filled by a capable, born-again fundamentalist. If I had my way, Lee Roberson would be President; Tom Malone, Secretary of State; Bob Jones, Secretary of War; David Gibbs, Attorney General; Wendell Evans, Secretary of Education; Bob Gray, Secretary of the Interior; Curtis Hutson, head of the Welfare Department; Gary Coleman, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; Bill Pennell, President of Cuba; Johnny Ramsey, President of Mexico; Raymond Barber, Secretary of Finance; and John Rawlings, Secretary of Labor; Harold Henniger, Secretary of Agriculture; Bruce Cummons, Secretary of Finance. If I had my way, Bob Jones III would be Vice- President; Buddy Franklin, Governor of Maine; A. V. Henderson, Governor of Missouri; Myron Cedarholm, Governor of Wisconsin; Al Janney, Governor of Florida; Walt Handford, Governor of South Carolina; Steve Byrd, Governor of North Carolina; Bob Kelley, Governor of Tennessee; Cecil Hodges, Justice of the Supreme Court; Tom Wallace, Governor of California; Greg Dixon, Governor of Indiana; Jim Vineyard, Governor of Oklahoma; Ed Nelson, Governor of Colorado; Wally Beebe, Secretary of Transportation; Bill Dowell, head of Department of Physical Fitness; Mrs. John R. Rice, head of National Organization for Women; David Cavin, Speaker of the House; Russell Anderson, Director of the National Budget; and Bob Billings, United States Representative to the United Nations. Every city would have a fundamentalist mayor; every school board would be staffed by fundamentalist deacons, every courtroom would be occupied by a fundamentalist lawyer, the security guards of Hyles-Anderson College would be the Indiana State Police, and the politics of our nation would be run under God; but in spite of this, we are not commanded to clean up politics, to head movements for better government or to head political actions groups, but we are commanded to preach!
If I had my way, not one Communist would ever speak on a college campus. If I had my way, Cuba would be blockaded until Russian troops are pulled out. If I had my way, every Communist book would be taken off the library shelves of every classroom in America, and every person found guilty of spreading Communism would be tried for treason. If I had my way, no Communist would ever again appear on a talk show, and the Communist party would be outlawed in the United States! If I had my way, no pink professor would ever again criticize George Washington; yet, in spite of this fact, we are never commissioned to head the Committee of Un- American Activities and we are never commanded to join the Anti- Communist League, but we are commanded to preach!
If I had my way, a person found guilty of growing or selling marijuana would be placed in prison. If I had my way, never again would a teacher teach evolution in our schools. If I had my way, the classroom would never be a place of profanity again. If I had my way, sex education would be turned back to the parents. If I had my way, it would be illegal to bottle or sell alcoholic beverages. If I had my way, there would not be a coeducational dorm in America. If I had my way, there would not be another half-time chorus line at a football game. If I had my way, no Christian child would be again ridiculed for refusing to dance at the local high school. If I had my way, not one girl would be allowed to attend school in a mini-skirt, shorts or pants. If I had my way, no Madeline Murray O'Hare would be allowed to shake to faith of our youth, and yet we are never commanded in the Bible to join "Clean-up America" campaigns. I am for all of them, but there is no Bible command about it. There is a Bible command to preach!
If I had my way, there would be a fundamental Christian school in every city, town, village and neighborhood in America. If I had my way, every child would sit under a soul-winning teacher. If I had my way, no Christian young people would ever go to a heathen school. If I had my way, every school in America would be built on the Bible and its principles and would be bathed in prayer, but we are not commissioned to be educators primarily or to leave our pulpits for Christian education; we are commanded to preach!
If I had my way, America would be the strongest military power in the world again. If I had my way, America would have won the Vietnam War. If I had my way, we would never have relinquished the Panama Canal. If I had my way, not one gun control law would ever be passed in the United States so that only thieves and crooks would have guns and the common citizen would be at their mercy.
If I had my way, America would never again enter into an arms treaty with Russia. We would simply become the most powerful nation on the face of the earth and ready to defend ourselves at any cost! If I had my way, the Bay of Pigs would not have failed. If I had my way, America would stand up in defense of Taiwan. If I had my way, America would pull out of the United Nations, and draft dodgers would be convicted of treason. If I had my way, our Navy would be second to none, our Air Force would be the greatest in the world, our Army would be the mightiest on earth, and we would stop Communist aggression in Cuba, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Cambodia, San Salvador, Iran, Poland, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Mexico. If I had my way, nobody on the face of the earth would live in fear of the slavery of Communism, and every free nation on earth would sleep peacefully because of our dedication to their independence and freedom. If I had my way, the mightiest military defense in history would be ours; and yet, we are not commanded in the Bible as God's men to spend our time improving the armed forces, but we are commanded to preach!
The Pentagon needs to be improved, but the hope of this nation does not rest in the Pentagon. The White House needs to be improved, but the hope of this nation does not rest in the White House. God knows the Supreme Court could use a world of improvement, but the hope of this nation does not rest in the Supreme Court. Congress needs improving, but the hope of this nation does not nest in the Congress. Our city halls need cleaning up, but the hope of this nation does not rest in the city halls. The United Nations General Assembly could use some housecleaning, but the hope of this country and this world does not rest in the halls of the United Nations. It was preaching that saved Scotland under John Knox. It was preaching that spared England under Whitefield, Wesley and Spurgeon. It was preaching that spared America under Moody and Sunday, and it is preaching that will save America again if she is ever saved. I Corinthians 1:21b, "It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe." It was preaching that inspired Pentecost. It was preaching that saved Nineveh. May God take us back to old-fashioned, Spirit-filled, Christ-honoring, sin-hating, soul-winning, Bible preaching! It is the hope of the church! It is the hope of the nation! It is the hope of the world!
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Billy Sunday (1862-1935)
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