Home > Brandenburg, Preaching, The Word > How Does the Power Work through the Words?

How Does the Power Work through the Words?

September 26, 2007

Some of the strongest defenders of the King James Version, perhaps even a majority of them, often use the Bible like the Words themselves, nearly independent of any meaning, have magical properties that can ward away evil spirits.  This is not to say that there are not more that do the same with their modern translations (I believe there are).  As long as those Words are employed even pieced together like a newsprint mosaic of a kidnapper’s ransom note, something powerful will happen.  If we’re so glad that we have all the Words, then we should rightly divide them.   We don’t show more respect for them by ripping them from their context or getting a unique message from them that God “spoke,” often stated as:  “God spoke to me through this passage,” or “God gave me this message.”  Guess what?  God gave everybody the same message, so if the one you got is different than that one, the one and only God of Heaven didn’t give it to you.

There’s only one interpretation.  This is one reason why we need convictions not only about the preservation of the Words of God but also the teachings of God.  We ought to pass down to the next generation the right understanding of those Words.  If the right Words are assigned the wrong meaning, they are absent a kind of preservation—preservation of the teaching.  Preaching the wrong meaning to right Words still results in error.

Several of these same KJV advocates might ridicule exposition by scoffing that this exegesis stuff approaches Scripture like a “math book.”  Math wasn’t one of my better subjects, so I hope not, but no one should demean labor over the meaning of a passage.  Some of these very church leaders seem to judge success of a sermon by the kind of emotional impact it had.  “Were they excited and how many people came forward?” Or, “I think they really liked it.”  Or even, “Were they fired up?”  Positive outcome to these questions gets interpreted as “God used me” or “You could feel the power of God in that place.”

The Word of God derives its power from God.  Ephesians 6:17 says that the Holy Spirit uses God’s Word.  God will not work in the life-changing kind of power (dunamis) from preaching in error.  I’m not saying that something won’t happen, but the Spirit of God is the Spirit of Truth, so if a life changes through error, that wasn’t because of the Holy Spirit.

Through the centuries, many men have used great speaking abilities to move crowds.  Their ability should not be confused with the power of God.  “A” god, yes, but “the” God, no.  This is not an argument for monotone with few hand gestures.  This is to say that judging something to be full of power from God because of a feeling people got from it is merely existentialism, a form of humanism.  A person’s feeling becomes the determining factor and arbitrates the value of the message.  Change isn’t rooted in objective meaning but in the effect the sermon brings to the individual.  When the mortar is thin, you must fling it hard.  Such force brings impressive results, but not in the way of real wall building.

Gyrations and gesticulation become the standard of good preaching, conditioning wide mouths, protruding blood vessels,  uvulas flapping like a boxer’s speed bag, decibels rising to the level of a jet airplane taking off.  The speaker whips up such a frenzy with his voice, often circumventing human reason, that perhaps at the least, he could scare away any demon present.

When a man knows what the Bible says, he can practice it.  He can obey God.   At a bare minimum, the audience of preaching needs to understand what the passage is saying in order to believe and do what the Lord says.  A preacher who at least explains the passage evidences a desire for men to hear from God.  In the end then, God can get the glory and His Word will be respected.  The truths of these Words set people free.   The Holy Spirit’s illumination brings conviction.  The Word will be the Word of truth, which stabilizes and perfects, throughly furnishing the man of God unto every good work.

  1. September 26, 2007 at 2:45 pm

    Brother Kent,

    What a wonderful post. There is such a danger in “Fundamental” circles today to almost idolize preachers who have exciting styles or great oratory abilities.

    I don’t know how to react to most compliments from people on my preaching. But, one dear old lady gave me the best compliment I have ever gotten. She periodically tells me that she likes the way I handle the Word of God: truthfully and in a straight-forward manner.

    May God grant me to always be honest and faithful with what God HAS said, and not what I WANT to say.

  2. September 29, 2007 at 1:35 pm

    Working at the Gospel Mission, I have seen some preachers/workers use either very little Scripture (sometimes only one verse) or suddenly include a whole long passage (maybe even a chapter – such as Matthew 23) without explaining the text to the people. The end result is that not too many people got much out of the message at all.

    This is one of my favourite verses when it comes to how to preach or teach:

    Nehemiah 8:8 So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.

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