One of the preachers for the 1998 Tennessee State
Evangelism Conference at Judson Baptist Church in Nashville was Dr. Richard White, pastor
of First Baptist Church of Franklin, TN. During his sermon, Dr. White made a statement
that grabbed me like the hands of a drowning man and clung to the avenues of my mind like
cement clinging to a brick. That statement was: "Brothers and sisters, let's be very
careful lest we become so involved in defending the Bible that we fail to proclaim the
Bible." The Lord thrust that statement into my own heart as a powerful admonition for
me to "preach the Word in power."
We are not commissioned to spend our time putting crutches under the Word,
for it is not crippled. We do not need to spend our time doctoring the Word, for it is not
sick. We do not need to expend our energies investigating alleged errors in the Word, for
it is not guilty of the crime. We do not need to busy ourselves x-raying the Word, for it
has no broken bones. We do not need to involve ourselves defending the Word, for there are
no valid charges against it. We do not need to be occupied with apologizing for the Word,
for it has not made any errors. We cannot spend time adding to the Word, for it is already
complete. We certainly cannot take away from the Word, for it is permanently sealed by the
Our call and commission is to preach the Word in power. We must preach the
Word in power because it is heaven's bread for earth's hunger, it is heaven's water for
earth's thirst, it is heaven's light for earth's darkness, it is heaven's answer to
earth's questions, it is heaven's diagnosis for earth's illness, it is heaven's medicine
for earth's diseases, it is heaven's direction for earth's adventure and it is heaven's
victory for earth's defeat.
If we are to preach the Word in power we must Believe the Word
is Power, Bespeak the Word with Power, and Behave the Word by Power.
I. We Must Believe the Word is Power.
- We must believe the Word is power to save (John 5:24). There is life in the Word of God.
On the Day of Pentecost, a Spirit-filled Peter preached a sermon from Joel and Isaiah and
3,000 people were saved. Nothing is more powerful to bring people to a saving faith in
Jesus Christ than a preacher under the anointing of the Holy Spirit expounding the Word of
God as he calls folks to receive Jesus as their Savior and Lord.
In 1960, it was my privilege to hear the Japanese General who led the attack on Pearl
Harbor speak at Detroit Bible College in Michigan. He said as he was on his way to Tokyo
to be appointed Secretary of the Armed Forces for Japan, the train stopped at a depot in a
small town for a short time. He went into the depot to stretch himself and rest a few
moments from the hours of sitting. On his way back to the train, he noticed a piece of
paper lying near the door. Picking it up, he stuffed it in his pocket and boarded the
train. On the way to Tokyo, he took the paper out of his pocket and found it to be a
gospel tract written by the Wycliffe Bible Translators. After reading the tract, he was
smitten with conviction by the Holy Spirit, and gave his heart to Jesus Christ before he
ever reached Tokyo.
- We must believe the Word is power to satisfy (John 8:31-32). The Word of God satisfies
our sanctification (I John 17:15-19). In this Scripture, Jesus prays to the Father, "... sanctify them by Your truth, Your Word is truth." At the time of
salvation, every believer receives positional sanctification. Practical sanctification is
a day-by-day process in our lives. The means by which this is accomplished is the
ingesting of the Word of God.
The Word of God also satisfies for our supplication (I John 5:14-15). It has been my
experience that the most meaningful times in my personal devotion or quiet time is when I
pray Scripture back to the Lord. So many times the Word comes to give answers to our
Dr. R. G. Lee said, "The Word of God, the masterpiece of God, the Book above and
beyond all other books as a river is above a rill in reach, as the sun is beyond a candle
in brightness, as Niagara is above and beyond a mud-puddle in glory; is immortal in its
hopes B a complete code of laws, the most entertaining and authentic history ever
published, the best covenant ever made, the best deed ever written, the best will ever
All of us have had people approach us after a sermon and say, "The message today
settled a question I have had in my heart. Thank you for sharing the Word."
Evangelist Manley Beasley was stricken with more than one deadly disease from which he
never recovered. In one of his lowest moments, the Lord spoke to him through Psalm 128:6
which reads, "Yea, thou shalt see thy children's children- - -." Manley knew the
Lord would keep him alive to see his grandchildren. Even with the deadly diseases, he
lived 20 more years and saw his grandchildren.
II. We Must Bespeak the Word with Power.
- Because it is a command (II Tim. 4:1-5). In the Greek text, "Preach the Word"
is in the imperative aorist active tense, which says to us; "Every time you preach,
preach the Word." The command continues, "Be instant in season and out of
season." In other words, we are commanded to be ready to preach the Word when it is
convenient and when it is inconvenient. We are always to be ready to preach.
Let it be said again that we are not commanded to defend the inerrant Word, for it needs
no defense. Our command is to preach the Word in power.
- Because it is our counsel (Heb. 4:12). The reason it is our counsel is because the Word
is quick or alive. One of the greatest cures for any monotonous preaching is expounding
the Word in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Likewise, the Word is powerful - filled with eternal energy, and it comes to us with all
its truth and power to change lives. Dr. R. G. Lee said; "The Bible comes to us
drenched in the tears of a million contributions, steeped in the prayers of many saints,
expounded by the greatest intellects and fragrant with the faith of little children,
stained with the blood shed in the sands of the Coliseum, worn with the fingers of agony
and death." Dear friend, that is the Bible we preach.
The Word of God is effectual, bringing results to those who receive it. It is also
"sharper than any two-edged sword." The word "sharper" carries the
connotation of "severing with a single stroke." That is the Bible we preach.
The result of the Word being our counsel is that it permeates to the innermost being, so
much so that Hebrews 4:12 says that it is, "piercing even to the division of soul and
spirit, and of joints and marrow." It is likewise a "discerner of the thoughts
and intents of the heart." The Greek word translated "discerner" is the
word from which we get our word "critique". The Word of God preached in power
will critique every thought and intent and will show us who we are.
III. We Must Behave the Word by Power (James 1:22-25).
- A. We must behave the Word in relation to our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are
commanded to love one another. John 3:35-36 says, "A new commandment I give to you,
that you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this
will all know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another."
It is easy to strongly urge obedience in many other areas of Scripture, while we are
guilty in this area. If there was ever a day when Baptists need to keep this commandment,
it is now.
To fail to love one another is to fail to love God. I John 4:20 says, AIf any man says, 'I
love God,' and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom
he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?" Thus saith the Word.
To fail to love one another is to be unsaved. I John 4:7-8 says, "Beloved, let us
love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and
knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love." Again, thus saith
We are commanded to esteem others better than ourselves (Phil. 2:3-4). The word
"better" here means "to hold above" or Asuperior." Several words
in the Greek are translated "better" in the New Testament, but this word leaves
no room for misunderstanding the command. Someone has said that the Kingdom of God would
be greatly advanced if we were all willing to give our best in service, with no regard to
who gets the praise.
- We are to behave the Word in relation to the body (the church). Paul gives two
admonitions to Timothy. First, he says to "be strong" (II Tim. 2:1). This is no
time for weakness. This is no time for cowards. This is no time for the unempowered and
the spiritually weak. Let us be persons of strength, of stability and of unwavering
Second, he says to "be a soldier" (II Tim. 2:3-4). In this passage, Paul says we
are to endure hardship as soldiers. He likewise says that we must not get entangled with
the affairs of this life. These two admonitions need much consideration and cooperation by
those who follow Christ.
Paul also admonishes us that the reason for all we do is "that we may please Him who
hath chosen him to be a soldier." This is the paramount reason for service. Pleasing
our dear Lord should be our supreme desire.
In the book Payday Everyday, Dr. R. G. Lee says: "The Bible is
immeasurable in influence, inexhaustible in adequacy, infallible in authority, personal in
application, regenerative in power, inspired in totality." 3
Dear friend, if we are to "preach the Word in power" we
must believe the Word is power, we must bespeak the Word with power, and we must behave
the Word by power.
During World War II, the coal miners in Britain went on strike. To remain
on strike for any length of time would have caused much more devastation to their country.
In the midst of the strike, Winston Churchill addressed the striking coal miners.
Churchill said, "I will walk down the streets of London when the war
is over and I will say to a factory worker, 'Where were you while the war was on?' and the
factory worker will say, 'I was doing my job in the factory for my family and my country.'
I will say to a farmer, 'Where were you while the war was on?' The farmer will say, 'I was
on the farm tilling the soil and growing a crop for my family and my country.' I will meet
a soldier, and I'll ask that soldier, 'Where were you while the war was on?' That soldier
will say, 'I was out there in the trenches with a gun in my hand fighting a war for my
family and my country.' Then I will meet a coal miner and will ask him, 'Where were you
while the war was on?' That coal miner will say to me, 'I was deep in the mine with my
face up against the coal, mining coal for my family and my country.' " After hearing
that speech, the miners went back to work.
Some day the Lord will meet us face to face and will say, "Where were
you while the war was on down on earth?" May we be able to say, "Lord, we were
out there in the midst of the battle with the Bible in our hands proclaiming the Word in
Written by Dr. Bill Oakley
Lee, R. G. , The Word of God, Not Broken and Not Bound, Christ
For the World Publishers, Orlando, FL, 1965, pp. 3-4.
Lee, R. G., A Wisdom Greater Than Solomon, Broadman Press,
Nashville, TN, 1935, p. 50.
- Broadman Editors, Payday Everyday, Broadman Press, Nashville, TN, 1974, p. 19.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Bill Oakley was a pastor for over forty years before entering
full-time evangelism in 1996. Through his organization, "Mantle Ministries" he
conducts local and area wide revivals and crusades, Bible conferences, retreats, and
marriage enrichment seminars (with his wife Pattye). He is a graduate of Union University,
New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and Luther Rice Seminary earning the A.B., Th.M,
and Doctor of Ministry degrees. Bill and his wife Pattye have five children and five