Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

How to Be a Successful Gospel Preacher

Meditation for the week of December 20, 2009

Romans 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!

Recently a preaching friend of mine shared the story of a young person who came to trust in the Lord Jesus as her personal Savior.  She was reached as a result of some preaching and as the result of some personal work.  If she had not been befriended by a young lady that I know, she probably would never have listened to the Gospel.  But today she has her fortune made.  She has had her sins forgiven and when this life is over, she will be “with Christ” (Philippians 1:23).  This is the kind of story that makes my day.

When I talked to my preaching friend, he told me that this sort of thing happens in the Philippines where he was a missionary all the time.  I wish I could say that it happened in my ministry all the time but I can’t.  So I am wondering what can be done to be a part of a work that is fruitful in the Gospel?  I know that kind of work would revive me and those with whom I worship.  I have been searching the Scripture for answers and this is what I have found:

In Jonah 1, Jonah was disobedient and because of his disobedience he fled from the presence of the Lord by getting into a ship going to Spain.  He tried to avoid preaching to the wicked city, Nineveh.  Because of his disobedience there was a great storm and the sailors wanted to know why God had sent it.  Jonah told them about his disobedience and that Jehovah was judging him for his disobedience.  They threw him overboard and the storm ceased.  But as a result, they feared Jehovah, prayed to Him and worshiped Him.  Because of Jonah’s disobedience, these men were “saved” in the new testament sense of the word.

Later Jonah is obedient and goes to Nineveh and preaches just eight words.  Those words were, “Yet forth days and Nineveh shall be overthrown.”  There was no offer of hope or salvation but when the people heard the message, they were convicted and repented.  The Lord withheld his destruction because of their change in attitude.  They figured out how to be saved once they understood that God intended to destroy them.  They didn’t have to be told how to be saved.  Jonah is called a great preacher by the Lord in Matthew 12:41,  and yet all he did was to repeat eight words over and over again.

Jonah, then, saw the sailors saved through his disobedience and Nineveh saved through his obedience.  So what is the key to successful Gospel preaching?  The key is to let God do His work and to marvel at it.   I would certainly rather God blessed me for being obedient than for being disobedient, but God’s ways are past finding out.  We can do everything right and it may be that God will not use us to see visible fruit.  In that situation we may be planting and later on someone else may be the reaper.  But a lack of fruit certainly doesn’t imply that we are doing something wrong and visible fruit doesn’t imply that we are doing everything right.  Jonah proves that we might be doing something wrong and we might still see fruit in the Gospel.

What is the lesson here?  In my mind, the only time we are doing something wrong is when we give up trying to spread the good news in whatever way we can.  But even if we fail God, He will get his work done in one way or another.  I would like that to be through me, and I hope you would like that as well.  And I hope that when he works through me it is because I have been obedient and not because I have been disobedient. 

Bruce Collins

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