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Small things

January 2008 | by Henry Mahan

Small things

‘For who hath despised the day of small things?’ (Zechariah 4:10)

Sometimes – while looking for great things to do, great crowds to impress, and great trials to endure for God’s glory – we overlook the simple sling and stones God uses. We send our Davids out to tend sheep; we dismiss the loaves and fishes as too little to be useful and unworthy of our notice.

When will we learn that God uses the foolish things to confound the wise? That he employs ‘the base things, the things which are despised, yea, and the things which are not, to bring to nought things that are; that no flesh should glory in his presence’?

Have we been taken in by the world’s philosophy of numbers, riches, greatness, talent, popularity and wisdom? Have we discarded the very instruments, vessels and weapons God uses to manifest his glory?

Preaching Christ

I hear preachers talking about going to a certain seminary or school to secure their doctorates. I ask, ‘Do they teach the Word of God? Are the professors true to Christ and the Scriptures?’ ‘No’, they reply, ‘but I need the credentials to open doors for me to preach!’

All the credentials one needs is a divine call to the ministry. It is not your honorific titles that open effectual doors for the gospel but the Holy Trinity. The disciples ‘went forth and preached’.

It is not said that they went forth and argued; or that they went forth and wrote apologies for the Christian faith; or that they went forth and structured, organised and rehearsed doctrine before groups of would-be theologians.

No! They ‘went forth and preached’ Christ crucified in the language of the people. They demanded that men should believe on and receive Jesus Christ as Lord. And if they would not believe, the preachers left them with the distinct understanding that they would perish in their unbelief.

Most of the intellectual Calvinism preached today is understood by few, experienced by still fewer, and enjoyed by none. The hearers know what they believe but know very little of whom they believe. We’ve straightened out their heads and neglected their hearts. Morally, they are as straight as a gun barrel – and just as empty!

Starving

Dismiss this as rhetoric if you will. But before you do, take a good look at your ministry, your message, your worship services, and your gospel. Record the whole service, then sit out in a pew some night and listen to it.

Imagine you are a total stranger who has dropped in, hungry to know God – what is there for you? Imagine you are a heart patient who might die tomorrow and face God in judgement – what is there for you?

Imagine you are a wayward teenager, all mixed up in your thinking, your morals, and your home life – what is there for you? Imagine that you are a lonely widow or an old couple forgotten by children and family – what is there for you?

Imagine that you are a believer plagued by doubts over your acceptance in Christ, by fears of death, and by great temptation to sin – what is there for you? Imagine that you are going through an emotional crisis, a broken home, or sorrow over the death of a loved one – what is there for you?

These are the people to whom we preach; these are the sheep we are commanded to feed; these are the people we are told to comfort!

The people starve and perish, the lost go away doomed and the Pharisees wallow deeper in their refuges of lies – while we make sure that the church is properly organised and structured; while we fight liberalism and fundamentalism; while we denounce Christmas, Easter and pagan holidays; while we straighten out our fellow preachers on the millennium; while we busy ourselves with the old puritans and try to sound smarter than we are – yet all the while ignoring the only source of life, namely, the preaching of Christ!

Beguiled

Satan has beguiled us as he did our mother Eve. Through his subtlety he has corrupted our minds from the simplicity of Christ. Where can I go this Lord’s Day and hear the mercy of God, not the mechanics of grace? Where can I go and hear the love of Christ and not the law of God for saints? Where can I go and hear of the righteousness of God fulfilled by Christ and not the righteousness of the creature rewarded by God?

Let us determine by God’s grace that my church will be the place and I will be the preacher. The message will not be flowery, but it will be full of grace; it will not be with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but it will tell of the sovereign mercy of God to helpless sinners – in a language all men understand.

We can go elsewhere to have our intellects ‘challenged’. Lord, make me your voice to the people!

Come ye sinners poor and needy, weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you, full of pity, love and power.
Now ye needy, come and welcome, God’s free bounty glorify;
True belief and true repentance, every grace that brings you nigh.
Let not conscience make you linger, nor of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness he requireth, is to feel your need of him!
Henry Mahan