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 The Mystery of Preaching by Art Katz


The Creative Word

A correctly recited word out of the Bible does not make it the word of God. It is only the word of God when it is the word given, and that word does not necessarily have to be a scriptural quotation to be the word of God. It could be a word of mocking, insult, confrontation, or a strange and foolish word, but it is a word that must be given, and that word is attested to by the power of God. Those who speak the words of God have already come to a sufficient death to themselves that the power, or life of God, can be meted out to them without any fear that the glory of God will be touched or misappropriated. A man who will bear God’s words and speak them can be trusted—however offensive they might be to the hearer and even to himself.

In the absence of the deep conversions effected by the preaching in our own generation, one wonders if we have sufficiently considered the meaning of the word ‘sent,’ and have naively assumed that any promulgation of the gospel is as blessed and honored of God. Likewise, it is perhaps wise also to consider whether any message, however correct, is indeed the word of God, especially if it was humanly contrived to avoid the very humiliation which I am suggesting. If ‘preaching Christ’ is more than the message about Him, but the showing forth of Him, then the God who sends may yet be waiting for suitable candidates. The issue is the issue of the Cross, and one might rightly suspect that it will not come to men with full conviction, except through the lips of those who know the Cross in their own experience, and are willing to suffer the humiliation of it again and again in the very foolishness of their speaking. If our speaking is not a foolishness, it is not a true speaking. It may amuse men, it may even inform and inspire, but it will never be an event.

Our own generation, like that of the Corinthians to whom Paul wrote, bears a greater affinity for sophistication and self-adulation than the God who made Himself of no reputation. A true preaching requirement, rightly considered, will enable us to think often of our wretchedness and a healthy contempt for ourselves and our ability. To preach is not the issue of skill or learned technique, but a divine mystery, and the very word ‘preaching’ is derived from the Latin word praedikare, which means ‘to make known.’ Whenever Christ’s humiliation is explicated in the foolishness of preaching, He is again revealed and set forth to be a Savior. For just as God gives grace to the humble, so also does He, who is full of grace and truth, have opportunity to intersect time and eternity, heaven and earth in the moment of authentic meekness when a preacher ceases from himself.

A familiar illustration of this cruciform life is to be found in 1 Corinthians where Paul exclaims:

And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:1–2)

For all of Paul’s erudition and religious knowledge, this kind of self-imposed limitation required a painful determination. The trouble is that we know so much, and there is so much that we know that wants to find expression. It requires, therefore, a determination to put away what is so accessible and available to our preaching.

True preaching, or the authoritative word, is a word that produces change, and establishes a reality that was not there before the speaking of it. A whole respect and reverence for the word of God, as preached, needs to be elevated in the church. God says that He has exalted His word above His Name. In the beginning was the Word, and it was the Spirit of God who brooded across the face of the deep before a creation that was yet without form, and God spoke and said: "Let there be light." We need increasingly to have an anticipation for this kind of apostolic speaking, of men bringing us the word, not just to strengthen our understanding, but to actually establish our foundations.


The Word that Performs a Work

Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 2:11–13,

Just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children, so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own Kingdom and glory. And for this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received from us the word of God’s message, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.

This was not some abstract believing. They believed that the word that had come to them through a man was not the word of man, but the very word of God itself. And because they believed that, it performed a work in them. This is how God changes us from glory to glory—by the word that performs a work.

That word had nothing to do with Paul’s own selection. He had only one thing before him and that was to be obedient to speak the word that was given, and which alone performs a work in those who hear and believe. If we choose not to believe that, then that same word becomes for us just another word, one that we like, or do not like, one that is interesting, or not interesting, and thus we lose the entire value, and the word, therefore, cannot perform its work.

All too often we come to the place of assembly with a weary kind of resignation, and the mentality that it is just another service, but it was not so in the beginning. They came in anticipation of a ‘creative event’ by the word that was spoken, and by such continual speaking, they were moved from glory to glory. How else shall we go from where we presently are to where God bids us ‘apostolically’ to be, except by the word that is sent, and by the word that is spoken. That puts an incredible responsibility on the bearer of the preached word. His union with the Lord needs to be of an authentic kind, or else his listeners are merely sermonized from Sunday to Sunday.

We need a whole qualitative elevation of our faith, and a jealousy to not speak anything other than the word that is given by God. There has got to be for us a motivation more than our reputation as speakers, or the fear of men, or our concern not to offend, or disappoint. Perhaps there could not be a healthier tonic for the church itself than to introduce them to silence, and to announce to their astonishment that the one who is going to speak has not a word to speak from God, and that he is not going to fill the silence with some merely good thing. This is the type of jealousy to which we must return if we are going to have what Paul speaks of in his first letter to the Thessalonians.




except from -https://www.sermonindex.net/modules/articles/index.php?view=article&aid=412


 2011/5/16 23:24









 Re: The Mystery of Preaching by Art Katz


Come Up and Be There!

Are we secure enough in God that we have nothing to prove, nothing to demonstrate, because our identity is so established in God? Are we so accepted in the Beloved that we do not have to prove anything for our ministry or for ourselves? We do not have to exhibit our intelligence, our spirituality, our experience, but rather we wait for the word that is given. If Jesus would not so much as speak His own words, what then shall we presume to speak? Indeed, it is humbling to wait for that which is given, especially when you are naturally clever in yourself, and even have a flair with words. To be utterly dependent upon God, for that which is given, is a humiliation for man in his pride.

We must never be satisfied with a mere ‘good thing.’ God invites us to an apostolic jealousy for a word that is given in communion with Him. Moses received his instruction at the top of the Mount of God, where he spent forty days and forty nights neither eating nor drinking. He came up into the presence of God that he might receive the tablets of the Law, and right from the very first invitation, we see the whole genius of God with man: "Come up unto Me, and be there, and I will give you the stone tablets with the Law and the commandments which I have written that you may teach them," God says, to all with any fleshly ambition, "and do not think that you are just going to come up and grab them from Me and go. I know your craven religious ambition to establish your preaching reputation, but I am a holy God, and you are not going to be preaching some abstract thing from My Word."

The first requirement of apostolic preaching is ever and always this: "Come up unto Me, not for what you are going to receive from Me, but unto Me, for My own sake, and be there in totality, all that you are in union with all that I am, and then I will give you the tablets of the Law."

This is the requirement of God, and yet the majority of us seem to feel that we have the liberty to violate His Word, and to extract Scriptures and to ‘make’ sermons. God is calling us to a higher thing, through the restoration of apostolic reality and glory, by men and women who do not take their liberty with the Scriptures, but receive from God the explicit word that is given in only one place—His presence! "Come up unto Me, and be there" is in itself the apostolic message. What the world is dying for is not information about God, but men and women who will communicate God as He is in Himself. This is the only thing that shall save us from becoming mere technicians, and from being the victims of yet another religious phraseology. The world needs the knowledge of a God that is exuded by men and women who speak to them out of the presence of God. The world does not know how to live, and that is why it chases after its drugs, eroticism, and sensuality. They have no idea of what it means to be there. They need to see apostolic reality in those who will teach them how to live, and how to be there in totality, and to enjoy the depths of fellowship with both God and their fellow man. To ‘come up’ is not an easy coming, and indeed, no ‘going up’ is ever an easy going, yet it is the only place of true communion.

We must speak the word of God in the sight and presence of God at all times. It requires an apostolic consciousness and coming to a deep revelation of the sacrament of the spoken word. Paul says that we shall be held accountable for everything we have done in our bodies, both good and bad, including our speaking. In 2 Corinthians 3:4–5 he says:

And such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves, but our adequacy is from God.

To have a reliance and confidence toward God are not something that is based on our own ability—as if anything could come from us that could accomplish the work of God—but that all of our power, ability and sufficiency are from God. "For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To whom be the glory forever!"

We must have a reliance and confidence through Christ, and we must know that we are not qualified within ourselves, and indeed, we must know what a piece of foolishness we are in ourselves! If we are speaking His word, we do not have to buttress it with our own natural personality. It does not require our charm to make it succeed, for He gives the Spirit without measure to those who bear His word. We need desperately to come to an apostolic place, that we might be permanently ruined, and never go back to anything less. We should insist on His word and His word only from this time forth, for He is quite able and willing to give it if we will come up unto Him and be there. It is He who has qualified us, and made us fit to be worthy and sufficient as ministers of the New Covenant!

Oh, for such apostolic men again as Paul! Men who will speak the creative word into the very foundations of the church of Jesus Christ, words that are given in commandment out of the presence of God by men and women, who will come up to Him and be there! Are you determining something in your heart, namely, that this word may be an event for you because it comes to you as more than a word of instruction? That it comes to you as a call and challenge, and as an invitation and command to, "Come up unto Me"? Up from the fear of men, up from the concern for your petty reputation, up from the emphasis of the traditions of men, and the kinds of things they want to hear? I pray that this is coming to you as a personal word, an apostolic invitation and command from God to be a minister of His uncompromised word, both in the church of Jesus Christ, and to the world. God will thresh you in sever dealings in order to bring you to a place where you recognize in your deepest innermost being the irreverence that many of us have for the word that is given. He will be with us in our affliction, but He will not alleviate it. He wants us to feel the full brunt of what it means to be a man through whose mouth either life or death can come. This is not preaching to entertain, but a serious bearing of the word of the Lord. The responsibility is enormous, and we need to know the consequence of it. But when it is spoken, in the moment that it is given of God, then it is life for the dead!

Where that boldness or authority is not expressed, then the sermon stands in jeopardy of becoming mere ceremony, an adjunct, a piece of familiar and unchallenging predictability. It requires nothing from its hearers and it makes no demand, but only fills the space that has been made for it, and there is no glory in the church. The word has not come to us as event, and to that measure, we are incapacitated as God’s agents in the world and constitute only a sleepy, Sunday religious culture that the world can well afford to ignore. The faith is holy, and we cannot live, transact, and operate at other levels, and think that it is without consequence of one kind or another. As nature abhors a vacuum, the space that should have been filled with godly content and the Holy Spirit, now invites murky and dubious substitutes only too eager to provide themselves.

Authority is relative to the knowledge of God in intimate communion, or it is not authority, and it is this that distinguishes false preaching from the true. Our ability to discern the one from the other is relative to our own communion with God. In the last analysis, the world is dying for the lack of the communication of very God Himself. This knowledge, and this sense of God, are not only the apostolic message, but also the foundation of the church, and all reality itself.


 2011/5/16 23:43
Areadymind
Member



Joined: 2009/5/15
Posts: 1042
Pacific Ocean

 Re:

There are so many statements worth quoting for the sake of emphasis in these articles, that I guess it would do injustice to them to quote any one thing. Although...this was pretty amazing.

Quote:
As nature abhors a vacuum, the space that should have been filled with godly content and the Holy Spirit, now invites murky and dubious substitutes only too eager to provide themselves.



I feel I have been a party to this lately. Thank you for this exhortation.


_________________
Jeremiah Dusenberry

 2011/5/17 1:51Profile









 Re:


I haven't noticed that - in fact, have missed your contributions.


The first few lines of the first section got to me.


GOD help us all.
Thanks Brother.

 2011/5/17 2:57
Areadymind
Member



Joined: 2009/5/15
Posts: 1042
Pacific Ocean

 Re:

Sorry J.I.G. I was referring more to the general theme of both articles. I was also referring more to when I preach and teach the word. I can completely relate to what he says right here.

Quote:
"and do not think that you are just going to come up and grab them from Me and go. I know your craven religious ambition to establish your preaching reputation, but I am a holy God, and you are not going to be preaching some abstract thing from My Word."



This also really struck me.

Quote:
Are we secure enough in God that we have nothing to prove, nothing to demonstrate, because our identity is so established in God? Are we so accepted in the Beloved that we do not have to prove anything for our ministry or for ourselves? We do not have to exhibit our intelligence, our spirituality, our experience, but rather we wait for the word that is given. If Jesus would not so much as speak His own words, what then shall we presume to speak? Indeed, it is humbling to wait for that which is given, especially when you are naturally clever in yourself, and even have a flair with words. To be utterly dependent upon God, for that which is given, is a humiliation for man in his pride.



As we minister the word, or the love of Christ with the power of His giftings, I think it behooves us all to remember Jesus solemn meditation, "I beheld Satan as lightning from heaven." -Luke 10:18

It is true that God's gifts are given without repentance on his part, but I cannot help thinking that it is a big risk God takes (If I can be so bold as to say such a thing without being pounced on, and maybe I am using the wrong word for lack of a better one to explain what I mean.) He is Alpha and Omega, he knows the beginning from the end, and yet he grants gifts to beings, some of which will inevitably twist that gifting into their own self gratifying pleasure. It is the ruse of the Devil to then make us think that the "gift" was evil in the first place. (A really good example of this is the threads right now that argue for or against pastors being paid.) Because a gift has been tainted by sin and iniquity, the Devil probably folds his fingers in satisfaction, with a twinkle in his eye at how we now sit back and say a gift is evil because corrupt beings have done bad things with the gift. I have said to a number of people that it is not the Devil's lies that I fear, it is the truth that he wraps them in.

I wonder (this is total speculation) if, as the disciples came to Christ to to revel in the fact that the devils were subject to them, that Jesus saw Satan fall in a vision at that moment, or if he had a memory that his Father drew out of the annals of eternity and placed it in his mind right then. Or did he always know? It is obvious from reading the New Testament that Jesus had laid aside his omniscience for the sake of demonstrating himself to be the "last Adam." Or we could say, "The Adam of God's intention." But how a person answers this speculation is probably dependent upon their understanding of the incarnation, which is still a great mystery. (That was a bit of a tangent.)

All that aside, by hook or crook, Jesus obviously saw in them that same thunderhead of spiritual pride, threatening to cast them deep into the dust with the speed of light. Heavy is the temptation to become self-possessing with the giftings of God. This is a wile of the devil. Age upon age he has fashioned the blessings of God's gifts into relic's of self deification. (Even as Michael the Archangel when contending with the devil, he disputed over the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, "The Lord rebuke thee." -Jude 9) Moses body even, may have become a relic not unlike (or maybe far worse than) Nehushtan (II Kings 18:4.) Where Nehushtan was a "crafted object," Moses was a man. Nehushtan represented an event (which also happened to be a foreshadow of Jesus on the cross, becoming sin for us.) Moses represented an entire paradigm, a government, a history, and even more importantly...a covenant.

This begs the question in my mind. Which is worse? The deification of an object? Or the deification of man? Or self? The former can be cut to pieces, the latter...well that is something else entirely.

Balaam is a perfect example of a man who used his giftings for his own purposes.

All this is to say that what Art is saying here is so crucial. We are complete fools of the uttermost proportions if we think in any way that we are immune to the crooning of this siren song. I can say for sure, that I do not want to be tied to the mast like Odysseus, I cannot bear that temptation willingly. It is only by the Spirit of God that we are able to.

This, in a fashion, is what the Devil was tempting Christ to when he told him to jump from the temple and not dash his foot against a stone. I am not sure that we have fully apprehended the implication of this temptation. "Use your divine power Jesus, get glory for yourself. Act the part of a conquering Roman Caesar. They would all bow before you then. Act beyond the capacity of your human limitation. Act beyond that which has been revealed by the Father for you to do. Act beyond the peace he leads you with. Act...with presumption."

Basically, I am speaking out of the abundance of my own heart, and confessing that these things are heavy temptations. It is a temptation for me to fall into traditional ruts, it is a temptation to take credit for something that has been given. It is a temptation to use that which cometh down from the Father of lights as a bullet point on my spiritual resume'. And honestly, I am completely utterly disgusted by it. In that sense, these articles are such a healthy exhortation.

***Edit*** I thought of a better phrase than "risk," because risk has some negative connotations. The better way of saying that would have been "counts the cost."


_________________
Jeremiah Dusenberry

 2011/5/17 12:33Profile









 Re:

Bless you Brother. Yes, the two posts are from the one message by Art that's linked at the bottom of the first post. Very excellent message. Very encouraging. I just didn't post the whole of the message.

Funny you mentioned that one verse. I felt the LORD point those verses out to me the night before last and was meditating on them.

Luk 10:18 And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.

Luk 10:19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions,
and over all the power of the enemy:
and nothing shall by any means hurt you.

Luk 10:20 Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you;
but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.


Amen!

 2011/5/17 21:38





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