David Miller has been preaching for 42 years. He pastored for five years before serving as Director of Missions for Little Red River Baptist Association (Arkansas), a position he held for 25 years. An itinerant preacher, David has been in full-time evangelism (Line Upon Line Ministries) since 1995. He served on the Board of Trustees of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, for eight years. He currently prefers the title “Country Preacher-at-Large.”
Text: 1 Peter 1:23-25
Our theme is the preaching of the gospel and the miracle of conversion. It seems those two things go together. God will have mercy upon whom He will have mercy. The Sovereign and the Spirit of that Sovereign God have chosen to use certain means in bringing about the conversion of a sinner and the means that He has chosen is the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Where there is no proclamation of the gospel, there are no conversions.
I have three items in my sermons now in case I lose some of you before I’m finished . . .
1. I want you to see that the prime mover of the Bible is God.
2. I want you to see that the perpetuity of the matter is good.
3. I want you to see the power of the ministry is great.
Throughout history, there have been movers and shakers–men who have the ability to have vision, initiate and implement a vision–men who are able to get the job done. We call these men “prime movers.” Every major movement has had its “prime movers.” The great theological institutions in the SBC life have had its prime movers. Southern Seminary had its James Petigru Boyce. Southwestern Seminary had its B. H. Carroll. These individuals, more than any others, were responsible for the existence of these schools. Now in a similar, yet far greater, way I need to tell you there is a prime mover behind the existence of the Bible. It is not Moses, David, or Isaiah. It is not Peter, Paul, or James,.The prime mover of the existence of the Bible is God. He envisioned the plan. He inspired the people. He inspected the product. The Bible is the Word of God. To say the Bible is the Word of God presents us with two stupendous implications:
1. If the Bible is the Word of God, this implies a divine essence. Our text says, “The Bible liveth.” Imagine that! The Bible is alive. Not the words, the ink or the paper by themselves are alive. Rather, these words and this message, when interpreted and applied by the Spirit, become alive with the supernatural saving power of God Almighty. It has a divine essence.
2. If the Bible is the Word of God, this implies the Bible has a definite inerrancy about it. Sophisticated academic credentials are not required to believe in the inerrancy of Scripture. For that matter, one is not required to be an ignorant, red-neck fundamentalist to believe in the inerrancy of Scripture. Sufficient scholarship exists among Baptists to build and maintain inerrancy. However, it is the opinion of this country preacher that we need to be reminded that the inerrancy of Scripture does not rise or fall based on human scholarship, but upon the character of the God who wrote it. If you believe God is truth and incapable of error, and if you believe the Bible to be the word of that God, then you can conclude that the Bible partakes of those same characteristics. For me, it is just as simple as that. I am aware, however, of the weaker brethren among us. Some do not think it is as simply as that. Some believe that there is a margin of human error in the Scriptures. Other of the lower critics says the Bible is inerrant when it addresses soteriological or spiritual matters, but when it speaks to scientific or historical matters, it is inerrant. I would submit to you today that He rules in the armies of heaven and that none can stay his hand and none can say, “What doest Thou?” The God of the Bible is not limited by human volition or the natural tendencies of man. If God often violates unwilling subjects, how much more can His Spirit blow across willing subjects, bringing unerring words to men. God is the prime mover of the Bible.
I want you to see that the perpetuity of its matter is good. There is the suggestion in this text of a contrast between the frail, feeble, fleeting existence of man, and the constant, continuance of the Word of God. The illustration and analogy is clear. “All flesh is as grass.” Man at the pinnacle of his power- at the peak of his prestige and pride- is like the flower of the grass which springs up later and dies sooner than the stem that bears it. But the Word of God endureth forever. This great truth is compounded by the fact that no king and no army has ever marched in an army in defense of the Bible. It is compounded by the fact that emperors and armies have marched to rid the Bible from the face of the earth. The armies of higher criticism are leading the battle against the Bible. But I tell you that when these critics are forgotten in the annals of history, the Word of the Living God will live on. Let me point you to something that you can have confidence, to sink your teeth in, to hold fast to. When the latest fad has passed off the scene, the Word of God will abide. Give your people something that will be an anchor for their souls. Give them the Word of God. Preach the gospel of Christ.
I want you also to see that the power of the ministry is great. In this text, the Apostle equates the gospel with the Word. The problem with having folks in Baptist institutions who do not have a high view of Scripture is that you soon run the risk of not having the Gospel. Do you know what the power of the ministry of the Word of God is? It is not to be subject matter for theological debate. The Word of God has been given us to preach for two primary reasons:
1. It is God’s means of revelation of God’s saving grace. You don’t learn about the gospel on reader’s digest, or television or any other source.
2. The Bible is God’s means of regeneration. We are born again not of corruptible seed, but an incorruptible seed which lives and abides forever.
The best way to get at this preaching is through verse by verse exposition of the Bible. Some of you are guilty of topical preaching. Bible preaching is when you give your people a portion of God’s Word and you explain it, illustrate it, apply it and do it week after week, month after month, year after year until the Chief Shepherd calls you home. If you want converts in your church, you must have renewed confidence in the Word of God and preach it expositionally. Trust the sovereign God by His gracious Spirit to bring new life to those who hear.