To Preachers Who Feel Unable to Preach
Eric Newton: It’s a privilege to have with us today Pastor Tom Fuller from nearby Easley. You spoke in chapel on God’s call of Jeremiah, and one of the things that struck me about your message was your emphasis on how God responded to Jeremiah when Jeremiah protested that he wasn’t as equipped as he needed to be and how that relates to our ministry as New Testament servants of the Lord today. Can you talk to us a little bit about that?
Tom Fuller: Yes, Jeremiah has one of the most specific—if not the most specific—call that there is in the Scripture. God said to him, “Before you were born I consecrated you, and I ordained you to this ministry.” And we recognize that was special revelation, that New Testament ministers aren’t expecting to receive it in the same way. But Jeremiah’s objection was that he he didn’t have the ability. He rooted that in his youthfulness initially, but he didn’t think he had the ability to speak in particular. And in keeping with the commission, God’s answer to him was that, “You are to speak my words, and I’m going to put my words in your mouth.”
And that is where there is a clear intersection with New Testament ministers. Nowhere does the Scripture ever call on a man to come up with and create sermons and try to just figure out what he can say about some biblical theme. I think even about some early preaching ministry of my own, thinking and praying over a text—thinking “There’s the theme” but just hoping that I would get some inspiration about it or get a burden from the Lord or whatever it may be. And it was just wonderfully freeing to come to grips with the fact that what I’m supposed to preach is the Word. What I’m supposed to do is preach as the very oracles of God. How liberating that was—that I had all of what I needed in the Word. And really my primary responsibility is to be diligent to be a workman that doesn’t need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. Instead of creating sermons, I need to investigate the biblical text and find the idea—the mind of God—in that text and then display it and proclaim it, even as a herald, with all the authority of God once we have his mind.
So that’s where you find that intersection between our ministry today as New Testament ministers and Jeremiah’s—both of us have been commissioned to proclaim God’s Word and not our own. And, again, that just settles anxiety and directs us to faithfulness.
Newton: Amen. And it makes me think of Isaiah 55. We can have all assurance that the Lord will accomplish everything that he has appointed for His Word. Thank you again for your ministry.