The Necessity Of
Preachers & Preaching

Christ’s Warning

In a Brief Survey of the Epistle of Paul to the Romans
Based on sermons preached in PCC Worship Services, July 2003 to Sep 2005
Part 50c of 83


“…14  How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?  15  And how shall they preach, except they be sent? (Romans 10:13-21).

[We have been considering the apostle Paul’s inspired arguments on why preachers and preaching are necessary for God’s people. His first argument, which we considered in the first instalment of this exposition, is that God has ordained that faith comes by hearing. In second part, we saw Paul’s argument that preachers are important because they are sent of God as His representatives. In this final instalment, we must consider how Christ has chosen to warn His people by His heralds. —JJL]

3. Christ Warns His People
by His Preachers

Look at verses 19—

But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.

These words are the final words of Moses.  It is part of his farewell song or poem. It is a poetic sermon designed to stir the hearts of the people.

What does Moses tell Israel that God would do? He tells them that they would provoke God to anger with their idolatries, and that God would provoke them to jealousy by calling the Gentiles to be His people.

The word of Moses was a forewarning to the nation. Why did God give them a forewarning? It is so that the people would repent of their sin and walk in the ways of the LORD. Consider his preface to the poem, Deuteronomy 31:28—

28 Gather unto me all the elders of your tribes, and your officers, that I may speak these words in their ears, and call heaven and earth to record against them. 29 For I know that after my death ye will utterly corrupt yourselves … &c” (Dt 31:28-29)

Consider what he says at the end of the poem—

“Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you this day, which ye shall command your children to observe to do, all the words of this law. 47 For it is not a vain thing for you; because it is your life: and through this thing ye shall prolong your days in the land, whither ye go over Jordan to possess it” (Dt 32:46-47).

Today, the rejection of the nation of Israel as forewarned by Moses has come to pass. God has begun to build His Israel with a foolish nation (cf. Dt 32:21), namely the Gentiles. The nation of Israel which refused to take heed to God’s warning through Moses has been sidelined.

Has God given Israel adequate warning? Yes, for not only Moses, but also the prophets had warned against their rejection one after another.

The prophet Isaiah is a case in point. Paul says:

 20 But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me. 21 But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people” (Rom 10:19-21).

What was Isaiah doing when he first said those words? He was warning the people who were hearing him that God would reject them if they continue to be stiff-necked and refuse the overtures of God.

God, through the preaching of His prophets, was reaching out to His people. He was stretching out His hand calling unto them to repent of their ways and to come back to Him. But Israel had remained disobedient and obstinate. So God warned them that they would be rejected.

What was the primary means by which God warned the people? It was through preaching.

This truth is taught very clearly elsewhere, such as in the prophecy of Ezekiel. Consider Ezekiel 3:17—

17 Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me. 18 When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. 19 Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul” (Ezk 3:17-19).

Can you see the role of the preacher here? He is to warn the people on behalf of God—the way that Moses and Isaiah did. If he fails to do so, the blood of the people will be upon his head. But if he warns them faithfully, their blood will be upon their own head.

God would have His preachers warn His people that if they stray from him, He would reject them.

Did Israel not know that they would be rejected? Yes, they knew. God had warned them over and over again.

Today, God continues to use His preachers. He has appointed preachers in every local assembly of His people. What must His preachers do?

They are the ambassadors of Christ. They must be the voice of Christ. They must call out unto the sheep of Christ. But at the same time they must warn against the wolves.

They must warn the church against straying away. They must know the congregation and pray for the congregation. They must warn the congregation according to the condition of the congregation they are called to minister in. They must warn the people that God would also reject them as He rejected Israel if they remain disobedient and obstinate as was Israel.

The apostle Paul will make this warning very clear in verse 22 of the next chapter. But shall we not take warning now even as we consider how God had reached out to His people of old by His preachers; and how they rejected the word, and so rejected Him; and so He rejected them.

Conclusion

a.   What is your attitude towards preaching, dearly beloved brethren? Do you regard the hearing of sermons an optional thing? Are sermons something to be enjoyed or criticised?

Or is it something to take heed to? How do you listen to the preaching of God’s word? Do you listen like the Bereans or the Thessalonians? Do you listen like the disobedient and gainsaying Jews, or like Lydia and Demaris?

b.  What is your attitude towards the preachers of Christ?

Are they merely those who are supposed to speak well? Are they paid to entertain?

Or are they the ambassadors of Christ to you? If they are, do you support them: (1) by praying for them; (2) by being there to listen to the preaching of the word whenever it is preached; and (3) by calling sinners to come to hear the preaching of the word?

c.   But finally, Do you hear the voice of the Christ calling you?

·     Is He calling you to turn away from your sin? Will you not take heed to His call? His hands are, as it were, stretched out to you. Will you despise His overtures like the Jews? Or will you go to the Lord and say: “Lord, I repent. You know my sin. Forgive me of my sin.”

·     Is he calling you to be His herald? Are you prepared to lay down your life? Are you prepared to put your hands upon the plow and henceforth to live a life of sacrifice as it pertains to the things of this world—but a life of great blessings as it pertains to the things that pertain to the kingdom of Christ?

May the Lord grant us that we may have a renewed attitude towards preaching and preachers, that the name of Christ may be glorified in our midst. Amen.

—JJ Lim