If I have learned anything in 35 or 40 years of teaching, it is that students don’t learn everything I teach them. What they learn is what I am excited about, the kinds of things I emphasize again and again and again and again. That had better be the gospel.
If the gospel—even when you are orthodox—becomes something which you primarily assume, but what you are excited about is what you are doing in some sort of social reconstruction, you will be teaching the people that you influence that the gospel really isn’t all that important. You won’t be saying that—you won’t even mean that—but that’s what you will be teaching. And then you are only half a generation away from losing the gospel.
Make sure that in your own practice and excitement, what you talk about, what you think about, what you pray over, what you exude confidence over, joy over, what you are enthusiastic about is Jesus, the gospel, the cross. And out of that framework, by all means, let the transformed life flow.
“I have preached the gospel now these 30 years and more, and … often, in coming down to this pulpit, have I felt my knees knock together, not that I am afraid of anyone of my hearers, but I am thinking of that account which I must render to God, whether I speak his Word faithfully or not.”
Powerful words from a powerful preacher.
The motive for preaching? You can preach for 2 reasons. Either because ‘you have to’ or because ‘you have to’.
The first “have to” is because you are on the schedule. The second “have to” is because you have fire shut up in your bones, you have a word from the Lord, you have something conceived by the Holy Spirit that you cannot keep inside. Nothing is worse that the first “have to.” Nothing is greater than the second “have to.”