How many sermons have you heard in your life? How many have you heard in the last year? How many were memorable? How many left an eternal mark inside of you adding to the very make up of your being? Leonard Ravenhill said to his son, “Be careful when you preach, because if you don’t have a word from God, you are not only wasting your hour but as many hours that are sitting in the pews.”
I have had the privilege to hear some of the greatest sermons ever preached. I also have been in meetings where I felt like life was being sucked out of me. I know that you know the feeling of the latter, hopefully you have had the experience of the former. Leonard Ravenhill said, “When was the last time you tip toed out of the sanctuary because you met God.” In Titus Paul said that the, “Word was made manifest through…preaching.” A living word from the throne has that much power, it brings men face to face with Jesus. A word from heaven can sweep one up by the wind of the Spirit into the reforming gaze of God.
I have noticed a few things about these messages. I have noticed that they all seem to have some undeniable and inescapable qualities. After I noticed these things, I made a mental note to weigh each word that I am hearing by this Spiritual scale. I submit to you that this is a very good way to test the spirits. A solid factor in hearing God. A distinguishing maker to determine the origin of a preached word. Maybe this falls short, maybe it is spot on. I have seen it to help me. So humbly I share it with you, to take a piece of paper and mark down how many times in a month that you hear these themes selected by your Pastor. If you find them lacking, I suggest to sensitively share it with him so that he might take it back to God in prayer. There are 5 points. I believe the first is most important but the following four are not in order of importance.
The first and foremost is CHRIST. Listen closely to note how much is Jesus the emphasis. Not just the historical Jesus, but the person. Notice how challenged you are to know Him more and how personally He is referred to. Note in your heart if you genuinely and undeniably see Jesus as the centerpiece.
The second is the CROSS. Are you challenged to take up your cross? Are you able to see the evidence of the cross in your life or lack there of? Note if the doorway into the resurrected life is proclaimed to your soul.
Have you a constant Spiritual remembrance of God’s suffering punctured into your heart? Does the preacher cause you to see the dripping blood of God?
Is there any encouragement to take up your cross in relation to one another? Is the cross the heart of all wisdom presented to you and the universal solution to the problem of man?
The third is how does the things being spoken to you relate to those in CHAINS? We in America often forget that Paul told us to, “Remember those in chains.” Not just to pray for them but that the constant meditation upon the fact that our brothers are suffering throughout the world will effect the very fabric of our thinking. It is not a just balance to weigh a prosperity message next the Father who has just been ripped away from his children for the gospel. I mean, how foolish would a man feel to stand before Richard Wurmbrand, who suffered 14 years in Romanian prisons for Jesus and tell him about his best life now? Or that there is a rich blessing of material things coming his way as he gazes from the floor with a bleeding back unable to walk from his last beating and shivering from eating only one slice of bread a week? We need to remember those in chains when we speak. I am all for being provided for, but if the preaching doesn’t ring true for those in chains, we have forgotten them. If we are giving a revelation of Jesus to the inner man, it will ring to to all men. Not just a select portion of the world.
The fourth is CONVICTION. Paul said that his words came with…”conviction.” Conviction is being convinced inwardly beyond intellectual reason. Conviction is the influence of the Holy Spirit on the soul. Conviction is the power to arrest a man not just about sin but about God. I am moved in the core of my being by words from another world entering into my soul. Prophets burn with this gift. Ravenhill said, “you want to meet a prophet? You probably want to see one but not hear one. Because he will leave blisters on your soul.” Though not all men will carry such a deepness of conviction there must be a sense that this man speaking to me has been with God. Some people describe honey and others dispense honey.
The last is INCENTIVES. What are the incentives that are being laid down in front of you? Is it eternal? Is it a vision of eternity? Has the essence of eternal significance been injected into you? Is there a negative incentive rooted in eternity? That to disobey will have consequences? We cannot preach an emasculated word. It must carry the essence of a positive eternal incentive and a negative incentive as well or it will create a loose generation no matter how great their gifting, their calling or their power – without the fear of God, we will create an emasculated Christianity that cannot overcome the devil.
So these things are very important to me. You may add some or disagree with some, but I feel that it is a crucial layout for weighing a word that is claiming to be from God. If we have failed in these areas, God will have mercy on us. And He will move in spite of us, but to have these qualities is a great indication that you are standing before a man that you can be assured has come forth from the counsel of the Most High.
Eric Gilmour is an Associate Editor for Voice of Revolution, overseeing Revival & Evangelism. Visit his website at agonypress.podbean.com