George Whitefield was a great itinerant preacher. He was fearless of man (and magistrates) and true to the gospel. Many souls were saved through his evangelistic ministry. When he preached in the field, he could draw any amount of people from one thousand to 30 thousand. Some spoke badly of his preaching and sought judges, magistrates and constables to prevent him from preaching. Mostly, they failed. Once, he received a letter from a Mr. Willian Seward, who commented on a letter his brother had received. The content of the letter was about a man who listened to Whitefield, was so stirred by the gospel that he sought further readings for confirmation. This man had a clergyman uncle who “entirely discarded” him and wrote to Corpus Christi College to have him expelled because he listened to and followed the teaching of Whitefield. Grasp how he obtained reading materials proving Whitefield’s preaching to be true. “The books he met with are very old, and were thrown by a waste paper from a clergyman’s library, that was sold after his death, where by the Counter-cup man met with them, and they seemed providentially reserved for his use” (Whitefield’s Journals July 1739). It’s quite amazing that when confirmation about the truth of a message cannot be accessed from the clergy, God gloriously makes a plan.
Basically, Whitefield’s message was about ‘free grace’ from the Father through the blood-stained Cross of the Lord Jesus, applied by the Holy Spirit. As then, so today, many churches seek to gather followers with the promise they need to do some outward act to be accepted by God for heaven. Others entice people to offer huge sums of money, jewelry or even lands and houses to pastors and churches under the impression that they are obediently pleasing God and obtaining His favour. Coupled with these deceptions, many are seduced to go through certain rituals, be it the so called “speaking in tongues”, receive some “prophetic word” or experience some man induced “miracle”.
There are those who teach you need to pray certain prayers over and over and go to a ‘priest’ for “confession” and “absolution”. Such churches and their clergy teach such evil will face an angry Judge on the day when Jesus returns. This is why we need to promote the Word of God … that we and those we speak to read and study and know the content of the Book of God. So many people have a Bible but they seldom (if ever) read it. It is either placed on the bedside table or on a coffee table in the lounge or resting on a bookshelf. The pages are still firmly pressed together as a sign of ‘no use’. You will never know the content of God’s Book this way. You need to take it up and read it. You need to study it and think it through because without knowledge of It’s content, you will be like that clergyman seeking to condemn the man for following Whitefield’s Gospel which is actually the Gospel of God … or fall foul to those false teachers, preachers and prophets seeking your assets and soul instead of your salvation.
Look at this:
Ro 10:9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. 11 As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
16 But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” 17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
Not every preacher is sent by God to proclaim the Gospel. Some send themselves … and often they are the enemy of the Gospel seeking to self-enrich or boost image or gain followers for popularity sake. Everyone who believes they are called needs to go through a testing process. See Paul’s words in 2 Timothy:
2 Tim 2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
The first thing a preacher needs to do is present themselves to God as one approved! Not to man but to God … for His approval. When God approves of the man, the man will do two things. The first is that he will never be ashamed of the Gospel and the second is that he will handle the Word correctly. How does this God-approved preacher do God’s business? He understands that the fundamental aspect of ministry is the “Word”.
2 Tim 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Once the Word is the preacher’s authority, he will use it ‘correctly’ … to teach truth, to rebuke error, to correct wrong ways and to train or disciple people in the righteous ways of Jesus, which they ought to follow. Such a preacher will never seek to expel a sincere man desiring to follow Jesus’ true gospel!
Lord Jesus, help me to know, love and serve Your gospel faithfully so that I will not be a stumbling block to others, preventing them from entering Your Kingdom and eternal life. Amen.