Copyright 1998 Dr. Mark E. Hardgrove
This being Pentecost Sunday, we want to emphasize the person and work of the Holy Spirit in the Body of Christ. But being Pentecostal, it has been my observation that while we have done a good job emphasizing certain works and manifestations of the Spirit in the church, perhaps we have not done a good enough job of emphasizing the work of the Spirit beyond the four walls. God never intended the work of the Spirit to end on Sunday evenings with that last "Amen". We are the church, on the job, in the home, in the market-place and on vacation. As long as we are a child of God we continue to be the church and the work of the Spirit is intended to continue in us and through us.
Iím not saying we should go around speaking tongues everywhere we go. Iím not saying we should be running the aisles of the grocery store praising God. The work of the Spirit is not limited to these ecstatic manifestations of worship. The work of the Spirit is most significant beyond these things. I grew up in the Church of God (Cleveland, TN) and my mother could (and still can) shout with the best of them. As a matter of fact, I tend to get a little excited myself when the Holy Spirit begins to move in our midst, but the most significant role of the Spirit is realized when I encounter a lost and wounded soul along the highway of life. More than anything else, I believe the Holy Spirit was given to the church to empower us to Preach Jesus.
I donít know about you, but I have often wondered why in the world the church is still in the world. Is it to praise and worship? We will do that in heaven. Is it to sing and to serve? We will do that in heaven. The only thing we can do here that we will not do in heaven, is to reach the lost. If I were to sum up the prime objective of the church in two words, it would be this very simple truth, Preach Jesus.
During the course of this sermon, I may repeat these two words a hundred times: Preach Jesus. By the time you leave this service I want these two words ringing in your ears, I want them echoing in your soul, I want them resounding in your heart: Preach Jesus! It want those two words to wake you in the midnight hour, stir you through the day, pound in your mind like the heartbeat of your spiritual existence: Preach Jesus!
We need to understand that the role of preaching Jesus is not limited to pastors, teachers, and evangelists. Every believer has been called to let his or her light shine. Every believer has been called to be salt. Every believer has been commissioned to proclaim the Good News, Jesus Saves, Jesus Saves!
The word ďpreachĒ has been defined in such narrow terms that we often lose the true meaning, which is simply, ďproclaim.Ē Proclamation is not limited to the preacher, all have been called to tell the lost that there is a Savior, and His name is Jesus.
I want to share with you three thoughts with regard to the command to Preach Jesus, these are: First, Jesus is the Message; Second, there is power in the Message; and Third, the Church has been empowered to Preach the Message.
I.) Jesus Is the Message
Have you ever noticed how easy it is to talk to a stranger about the weather, about the Braves, about football, or about our children, or where we are from? Yet when it comes to telling them the simple truth, "Jesus loves you," our stomach ties up in knots and our tongue gets stuck to the roof of our mouth. Why is that?
God hasnít called us to be weathermen and sportscasters, He has called us and empowered us to be light shining in the darkness. Somewhere in the course of our conversation we need to seize upon the opportunity to Preach Jesus!
The devil doesnít care if you talk about baseball, and he doesnít care if you talk about the government. In fact, I donít think he cares too terribly much if you talk about church, but when you start talking about the Jesus, about His love, about His sacrifice, about His saving power, demons tremble. Satan tells his imps, ďGet them to talk about anything under the sun, but intimidate them, scare them, frighten them into keeping Jesus to themselves.Ē
I donít know about you, but I donít take my orders from Satan. Iím going to Preach Jesus!
To the lost, Iíll preach Jesus as the way!
To the lonely, Iíll preach Jesus as the friend that sticks closer than a brother.
To the child, Iíll preach Jesus as father to the fatherless.
To the sick, Iíll preach Jesus as Great Physician.
To those addicted to drugs or drink, Iíll preach Jesus as the deliverer.
To the brokenhearted, Iíll preach Jesus as the one who came to bind up the brokenhearted.
To the man on the deathbed, Iíll preach Jesus as the resurrection and the life.
To the sinner, Iíll preach Jesus as the Savior.
To the church, Iíll preach Jesus as Lord and Master.
No matter where I am, or who Iím talking to, I can preach Jesus in a way that will fill a void and make a broken man whole.
Jesus is the message we have come to proclaim:
Paul said in 1 Cor. 21-24
It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:
But we preach Christ crucified,
Unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks,
Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
Then in chapter two of the same epistle, Paul said,
"for I determined not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified."
In Galatians 6:14 He said,
But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ...
Jesus told us that when the Comforter comes, ďHe will testify of Me.Ē
Donít let the devil scare you into silence on the single most important message you will ever proclaim. When God brings lost souls across your path, square your shoulders, put your foot on the serpent's head and Preach Jesus!
Jesus born of a virgin, Jesus conceived by the Holy Spirit
Jesus walking among men.
Jesus making the deaf to hear and the dumb to speak.
Jesus making the lame to leap and the dead to live again.
Jesus bearing our sins on an old rugged cross.
Jesus side riven.
Jesus in a tomb.
Jesus stirring to life early the third day.
Jesus coming out of the tomb victorious over death, hell and the grave.
Jesus ascending to the Father.
Jesus ever living to making intercession for the saints.
Jesus living in my heart!
Jesus in the morning, Jesus in the noontime, Jesus when the sun goes down!
Preach Jesus, Preach Jesus Preach Jesus!
I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. He is the message! He is the answer to earthís sorrowing cry! Jesus is the hope for the hopeless, help for the helpless, a healing balm for the wounded, Jesus is my soon coming King!
II) There is Power In the Message
Paul said, ďI am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation....Ē Peter preached in Acts 4:12, ďNeither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.Ē
One of the most powerful illustrations of the power of this message was illustrated to me by a Chinese friend of mine at the School of Theology. His name is Hong Yang. A friend of his called him from China--Hong was in Cleveland, Tennesse--and his friend was discouraged about the state of affairs in China. Hong Yang begin to tell his Communist friend about Jesus and before the converstation ended this official in the Chinese Communist government had committed his life to Christ.
There is power in the Gospel of Christ! If it will literally change a life on the other side of this planet, donít you know that it will change that life across the table, across the street, across the aisle at work, or at the altars of this church?
a) Peter preached Jesus on the day of Pentecost and 3,000 souls were added to the kingdom.
b) Peter and John preached Jesus to a lame man, and the lame man was healed.
c) Stephen preached Jesus and he was stoned to death, but before he died, he said, ďI see the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.Ē
d) Paul got saved, and began to preach Jesus.
e) Peter preached Jesus and Tabitha was raised from the dead.
f)Peter preached Jesus and the Holy Ghost fell upon the household of Cornelius.
g)Paul preached Jesus from city to city, in the face of rejection and despisal by his own countrymen, but he preached with power. Souls were saved, churches were planted, sick were healed, the dead were raised.
The book of Acts teaches us that the Holy Spirit works most powerfully through churches that are ready to Preach Jesus. The power of the Holy Ghost and the proclamation of the gospel are inextricably bound. You wonít have the power long, if you are not willing to Preach Jesus, and you canít Preach Jesus for very long until you feel the power of the Spirit stirring in your soul.
There is power in this message. It is a glorious treasure that God has placed in these earthen vessels. He has made us a royal priesthood, a peculiar people, holy nation that we should shew forth the praises of Him who has called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light.
It wasnít the message of Darwin that changed my life. It wasnít the message of self-help, or the message of democracy that brought peace to this troubled soul, it was the simple message of the love of God displayed in the sacrificial death of His only Begotten Son. It was the message of a healing stream that flowed from Emmanualís veins, and sinners plunged beneath the flow, lose all their guilty stain, lose all their guilty stain, and sinners plunged beneath the flow lose all their guilty stain!
Preach Jesus! There is power in the message! Power to open prison doors of sin and set the captive free. Power lift the condemnation. Power to overcome the guilt. Power to ransom a soul from the slave market of sin, brush him off and make him a son of God!
III) We Have Been Empowered to Preach the Message
In Lukeís Gospel Jesus said, ďRepentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations...but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until ye be endued with power from on high."
In Acts, Jesus said, ďAnd ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you and ye shall be my witnesses...Ē
Jesus told the seventy disciples whom He had sent out to the cities of Judea, ďBehold I give you power to tread on serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy.Ē
He said in Markís Gospel, ďGo into all the cities and preach the gospel unto every creature....And these sign shall follow them that believe, In my name shall they cast out demons, they shall speak with new tongues, deadly serpents wonít hurt them, poison wonít stop them, they will lay hands on the sick and the sick will recover.Ē
He didnít give the church power simply to shout around the altars. He didnít give the church power to speak cars and houses into existence. He didnít give the church power to sit around and tell others how much more power we got than anybody else. He gave the church power to be His witnesses, He gave the church power to Preach Jesus!
We can shout till weíre blue in the face. We can swing on the chandeliers and run the backs of the pews, but if the power of the Spirit doesnít go with us out of these church doors to where the rubber meets the road and souls are hanging in the balance, then we donít have much. But, OH! when we understand that the Spirit of God is never nearer than when we are witnessing for Jesus, when we are telling an empty soul where to find satisfaction, when we understand that at that moment we are vessels through which the Spirit of God can flow, then it should be our good pleasure to seize every opportunity to tell somebody what Jesus has done for us. We need to leave our homes every day with the feeling, "I've got to tell somebody what Jesus has done for me, or I'm going to burst!"
I want this church to grow, and I believe it can and will, but only if truly become a priesthood of believers and everyone of us makes up our mind to Preach Jesus.
Preach Jesus to that neighbor whose husband just left her.
Preach Jesus to that mother whose teenage daughter is pregnant.
Preach Jesus to that man at the job who comes in every night smelling like beer.
Preach Jesus to those at the job whose foul language offends you.
Donít be afraid, there is power in the message, and the moment you open your mouth to speak, the Holy Spirit will be stirring on the inside of you, giving you the very words to speak, giving you the boldness to speak, giving you the authority to speak.
Let me tell you of one of the greatest regrets in my life.
One day I stood talking to a woman I worked with in the Air Force. I was getting ready to go on vacation and while I was talking to her the Holy Spirit kept nudging me to tell her about Jesus.
You know the nudge I'm talking about. The one you get while you wait in the line at Wal-Mart. The one you get when you see someone crying on the city streets. The nudge of the Spirit, God Himself wanting to speak through you to those He loves. But it is a nudge that we so easily dismiss and ignore.
I knew that God was telling me to invite this lady and her husband to church. She had even brought God into the conversation, the door was open, but I refused. I reasoned that I would get another chance when I got back from vacation. The next day, even as I was headed out of town, this woman's husband was killed in a motorcycle accident. I never got another chance. God forgive us for ignoring the nudging of the Holy Spirit to tell others of His love personified in His Only Begotten Son.
I invite you to come and stand as a public declaration, that you will be obedient to the Spirit. You will not be intimidated by Satan. You will Preach Jesus.