A World Waiting To Be Won Duncan Heaster email the author


16. Salt Of The Earth: The Power Of Influence

17. Some Thoughts On Preaching (Alan Eyre)


18. I Have A Dream: The Church In The Last Days

19. Wounded Christian Soldiers

19-1 Christians Who Fall Away || 19-2 Not Giving Or Taking Offence || 19-3 Paul And Philemon || 19-4 Vendettas And Hatred In The Church


17. Some Thoughts On Preaching

(by Alan Eyre)


The God, or god, people believe in, worship and preach unmistakably moulds their message. Muslims proclaim the god they worship when their terrorist bombs leave maimed and bleeding schoolchildren in blasted buses. An Iranian Shi’ite who visited a  Bible Exhibition in Sydney mocked at the Saviour we honour: “Your hero told you to turn the other cheek. What a fool! Our heroes blow up jumbo jets!” I was driving through the vine-growing valley of Eshcol when an Orthodox Jew riding with me suddenly grabbed an Uzi machine gun and began firing at some unarmed Arab children. I asked him if his God would approve of such unprovoked barbarity. “Of course”, came the answer, “my Scriptures tell me Adonai is a God of war and I am His battle axe”. I had a neighbour once who boasted, like those in James 4 and 5, that he kept his heathen workers submissive by always keeping back some of their pay by fraud. He always dressed in white and never missed a Sunday in the church where he was an elder. The workers were told that he was indeed a model Christian, so he was the kind of god that Christians worshipped. In the end they murdered him in the name of his ‘Christian’ god. Mother Teresa of Calcutta so imprinted the spirit of her merciful God upon her Indian neighbours that many Hindus were inspired to change the very concept of divinity.

We are no exception to this rule. As we preach, so our God (or god) is publicly revealed to all.

It is a pity, almost a tragedy, that the most important biblical doctrine of all gets only a passing mention in our  statements of faith, and is only rarely touched upon in our public proclamation. It is the profound truth: God is love (I John 4:8). In one   Instructor “children under eight” are taught that God is “glorious spirit substance”, and that they “have to be very careful” of what they do or say, and that if God isn’t pleased with them they will be “driven away [from Him] in shame and disgrace”. These little tots are taught about the different fates of the responsible and irresponsible dead and the names of sons of Israel. But there is not a word, not one word, about how happy Jesus was when children sat on his knee, not one word about the fact that God loves them all and wants them to live for ever in a peaceful Kingdom right here on earth. There is nothing at all about the fact that God loves them so deeply and dearly that long ago He sent His Son as a baby born in a stable, a baby who grew up to be such a wonderful, wonderful person that all the world ever since knows what God is really like.

The God of the Instructor is defined thus: “He is kind yet inflexible” (1). That may have been Calvin’s God but it is certainly not the God of the Bible. How can we possibly tell people that we read and believe the Bible and yet preach a God like that? Abraham did not believe that his God was inflexible when he prayed for Sodom. God was not inflexible with Pharaoh, or Rahab, or Ruth, or David, or Manasseh, or Ahab, or Simon the Samaritan, or the Ninevites, or a host of others. He hears the cry of every contrite heart. He strengthens the weak hands and the feeble knees. Only the wicked slothful servant thought that his Master was hard and inflexible (Matthew 25:24). Our God turns, repents, changes His mind and His plans, sometimes with inexplicable caprice, and loves the unthankful and the unholy until it hurts. The God we proclaim is a God of whom it is said that in the days of Noah, man’s sin grieved Him so much that “His heart was filled with pain” (Genesis 6:6).

As we preach, we must proclaim the God of the whole Bible, not Adonai the cruel God of the Israeli army, not the benevolent grandfather God of the television evangelists who is so soft that he will cure AIDS for a few dollars, and not the puritanical God of the capitalist “Christian right” who will bless you with boundless material prosperity if you only work hard enough. No, the “God of truth” (Deuteronomy 32:4) whom we preach is the God who is love. Our message could not be better expressed than by  John Thomas, in his matchless English prose:

“[The true faith] precludes entirely the idea of appeasing the wrath of God. God needs not to be appeased by man; and every system, therefore, which is predicated upon the notion that it is necessary, is not only unscriptural, but essentially false. God is already reconciled to the world, which He has always loved; although it acts the part of, and therefore is, the enemy of God. “He so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life”. The fact of a divine religion being instituted is proof of the love He bears the human race. He seeks to appease men by His goodness, which invites them to repentance. His love is manifested in all that He has done for the world. He has sought to enlighten it, and to exalt it to a participation in the divine nature by the ameliorating influences of the truth. He has sent messengers to it with their lives in their hands, ready to lay them down in the divine work of beseeching mankind to be reconciled to God” (2). 

This is a God for “all men everywhere” (Acts 17:31). This truth will draw the Hindu, the Muslim, the Buddhist, the Chinese, the dissatisfied Christian, close to the true and living God, the God who forgives, loves and saves.

Here then is our God, the God we must preach, in every book from Genesis to Revelation.

Genesis.  The God who promises a way of redemption, and who is grieved at sin. The God who will spare if it is in any way possible. The God who is interested and involved in the petty domestic problems of a heathen king. The God who expects us to forgive our brethren, even those who hate us, freely. 3:15; 6:6; 18:16-33; 20:17; 50:15-21.

Exodus. The God who is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands. 34:6,7.

Leviticus.  The God who does not bear grudges and expects that we do not bear them either. The God who helps us up when we are down and remembers us even when we forget Him. 19:18, 26:36-45.

Numbers.  The God who accepts mediatorial prayer for the foolish. The God who was so anxious that His people would not forget Him that he made them wear a hem of blue that would remind them of heaven every day. 12:13, 15:37-41.

Deuteronomy.  The God who loves the stranger and the alien, the widow and the fatherless. 10:18.

Joshua. The God who loves and saves those who have faith, regardless of their origins. 6:22-23.

Judges. The God who, when people cry out for help in desperation, listens and delivers. 6:6-8.

Ruth. The God who provides rest for the weary soul. 1:9, 2:12, 3:1.

I Samuel. The God who is ready and eager to give even the most stubborn of men a chance. 15:30-35.

II Samuel. The God who will promptly and absolutely forgive the most heinous of transgressions, including adultery and murder, whenever and wherever there is genuine repentance. 12:13.

I Kings. The God who turns wayward people’s hearts towards Him. 18:37.

II Kings. The God who will bless the preaching of a teenage girl so that a prominent opponent of God is converted. 5:1-14.

I Chronicles. The God who is exalted as head over all, is ruler of all things, and who gives strength to all. 29:11-12.

II Chronicles. The God whose love endures for ever, 20:21.

Ezra. The God who is gracious, righteous, and who punishes us less than our sins deserve. 9:8,13,15.

Nehemiah. The God who gives life to everything, and who is deeply moved by human suffering. 9:5-9.

Esther. The God who saves and delivers through the willing sacrifice of those who love Him. 4:14.

Job. The God who responds to mediatorial prayer from his saints, even on behalf of those who are totally unworthy of it. 42:7-10.

Psalms. The God who is a personal God, fully and intimately involved in people’s day to day lives. All the Psalms!

Proverbs. The God who is a shield to all who take refuge in Him. 30:5.

Ecclesiastes. The God who gives satisfaction and enjoyment through daily work, the family and every daily experience of life. 3:13.

Song of Songs. The God who blesses love between man and woman because it is a reflection of His own. 8:6.

Isaiah. The God who willingly gave His beloved Son to be a guilt offering for us all. 53:10.

Jeremiah. The God who is a faithful husband to the wayward people whom He loves. 31:32.

Lamentations. The God who is good to those whose hope is in Him, even when times are hard. 3:25.

Ezekiel. The God who tends His sheep, searches for the lost, and brings back the strays. 34:15-16.

Daniel. The God who is able to save and rescue so dramatically that even the heathen marvel. 3:17,29.

Hosea. The God who speaks tenderly to the weak and erring, and who continues to show love even to those who spurn it. 2:14,19,23.

Joel. The God who is gracious ad compassionate, who turns and has pity, and leaves behind a blessing. 2:13,14.

Amos. The God who, astonishingly, reveals His thoughts to man. 4:13.

Obadiah. The God who sends deliverers when His people are oppressed. 21.

Jonah. The God who is concerned for the big, sinful cities of the world. 4:11.

Micah. The God who is the Light of His people despite their sins. 7:8-9.

Nahum. The God who is slow to anger and great in power. 1:3.

Habakkuk. The God who in wrath remembers mercy. 3:2.

Zephaniah. The God who is mighty to save. 3:17.

Haggai. The God who grants peace. 2:9.

Zechariah. The God who speaks kind and comforting words. 1:13,17.

Malachi. The God who blesses married life and seeks godly offspring. 2:15.

Matthew. The God who causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and unrighteous alike. 5:45.

Mark. The God with whom all things are possible. 10:27.

Luke. The God who is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 6:35.

John. The God who so loved the world that He gave His own Son to save it. 3:16.

Acts. The God who raised up His servant and sent him to bless us. 3:26.

Romans. The God who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. 3:26.

I Corinthians. The God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 15:57.

II Corinthians. The God who spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ. 2:14.

Galatians. The God who rescues us from this present evil age. 1:4.

Ephesians. The God who is great in love and rich in mercy. 2:4.

Philippians. The God whose peace passes all understanding. 4:7.

Colossians. The God who reconciles us to Himself, making peace through the blood of Jesus shed on the cross. 1:20.

I Thessalonians. The God who appoints us to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 4:9.

II Thessalonians. The God who is faithful, who strengthens us and protects us from evil. 3:3.

I Timothy. The God who pours out grace abundantly. 1:14.

II Timothy. The God who rescues us from every evil attack and will bring us safely to His heavenly Kingdom. 4:18.

Titus. The God who saves us through the washing of rebirth. 3:5.

Philemon. The God whose grace and peace fill our homes. 2-3.

Hebrews. The God who remembers our sins and lawless acts no more. 10:17.

James. The God who gives us every good and perfect gift, and who does not change like shifting shadows. 1:17.

I Peter. The God who calls us to eternal glory in Christ. 5:10.

II Peter. The God who is patient with us, not wanting anyone to perish. 3:9.

I John. The God who is love. 4:8.

II John. The God who gives grace, mercy and peace, in truth and love. 3.

III John. The God who does good so that we might imitate His goodness. 11.

Jude. The God who is able to keep us from falling. 24.

Revelation. The God who will wipe away every tear. 7:17.

This is our God. A consistent God from Genesis to Revelation. A God who shares our thoughts, emotions, heartaches, sorrows, sins and victories. A mighty God who saves. The one true and living God. Not just the Creator and sustainer of  galaxies and black holes, but a God who pours out love, mercy and grace upon all. A God for every nation under heaven, to be adored in every tongue on earth. A God before whom every earnest seeking soul will tremble and bow the knee. He is the God we rejoice to proclaim.

When we thus preach the one true and living God, many contrite hearts will open, but hearts which selfishness has filled with hate become as hard as stone. The god of this world will blind the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. We commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. That is how Paul viewed the challenge of witnessing (2 Corinthians 4).

The Bible informs us clearly that there are dire responsibilities consequent upon preaching the true God. How can we preach a merciful God but pass by the helpless on the other side? How can we teach others about the love of God, yet scandalize other people? How can we quote the Scriptures, yet deliberately or thoughtlessly neglect the poor and needy, or turn a deaf ear to their cry?

Preaching can be so many empty words about a cosmological God who is “glorious spirit substance”, one not three. If God is love, so must be His witnesses. They must be love, as He is. The spirit of the preacher must be the spirit of God - “rising early” so as to send His messengers “again and again because He had pity” (2 Chronicles 36:15). I know one sister who instructed her many converts at 4am because that was the only time she had available. One ecclesia wanted to take a candidate to a river to baptize him, but it was dry. They decided to read I Kings 18 and pray for rain as Elijah did. On that very day the long drought was broken.

God is love. God is longsuffering and tolerant, but He is not mocked. Those who claim to be His and eat at His table, but actually worship the idols in their own hearts, will perish utterly (Ezekiel 14:4). Those who imagine that the Lord does not see what they do in secret will be in no better case (8:12). In our preaching we must, like Paul to the knavish Felix, “discourse on righteousness, self-control and the judgement to come” (Acts 24:25). God extends His loving arms as a Father, but he cannot defile Himself in the hog pen. We must encourage the repentant sinner to forsake his sins and accept the love, respect and benevolence of God Almighty. It is our privilege to rejoice and make merry with every one who is welcomed into our Father’s house (Luke 15:11-32).


(1) Adult question 14. 

(2) John Thomas, Elpis Israel, page 157.