“Congregations will gather around a pulpit from which living water is flowing!” –E. Stanley Jones
“Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” John 3:5
Now, just because I quoted E. Stanley Jones, don’t go around saying that he is my favorite role model in ministry. I certainly do respect him for laboring 66 years as a missionary evangelist to the upper castes of India, but I do have a problem with much of his theology. But when he said that “congregations will gather around a pulpit from which living water is flowing,” I just had to say, “Amen!”
Not only must the “living water” flow from our pulpits, but our people must be attracted to “drink” from it. In other words, it is very important how we communicate the Word. Someone once said, “He had nothing to say and he said it endlessly.” Another stated, “He was a marvelous preacher. At the end of his sermon there was a tremendous awakening!” I think it was Vance Havner who said, “I have never heard any messages I didn’t get anything out of, but I have had some pretty close calls!”
William Willmon wrote that “people are ripe for a voice that gives them something significantly worth living and dying for!” My dear friend, preaching is God’s means of confronting people with eternal truths! Each time we walk into the pulpit we must be reminded that our message will have “eternal” results. Several years ago, to help remind me of the necessity and urgency to depend upon God in my preaching, I wrote in the flyleaf of my preaching notebook five steps in seeking to preach not in my own strength but in the strength that God supplies, taken from John Piper’s excellent book in “The Supremacy of God in Preaching.”
1. Admit to the Lord my utter helplessness without Him (John 5:15)
2. Pray for help (Psalm 50:15)
3. Trust in a specific promise (Proverbs 3:5-6)
4. Act in the confidence that God will fulfill His Word (Isaiah 55:10-11)
5. Thank God both before and after the message (Psalm 100:4)
We need to pray that God will keep the passion in our preaching! We need to pray that our preaching will make a significant difference in the lives of those who come to hear us. We must keep the “living water flowing” so that they will want to hear. Then, when we have poured out our hearts, let the Holy Spirit take the “living water” and apply it where He may. We have no control over that. I remember once, early on in my ministry, when I planned to pour all of the “living water” on just one soul I had been witnessing to and he said that he would come to church on that Sunday and hear me preach. Well, he never showed up, and I preached that message with dismal heart for I was so disappointed that my “target” was not present. That Monday morning, a sweet little old lady who had recently started attending the church called and asked if I could come to her home and visit with her about Christ. I had not seen her in the small congregation of fifty that Sunday morning because I was looking for Ed. When I arrived at her home, she acknowledged that she had been convicted in the preaching service and wanted to trust Christ as her Savior. What a valuable lesson the Lord taught me that day. Let the “living water” flow to all, and watch the Spirit of God work.
As hundreds of our Bible believing and Bible preaching churches meet this Lord’s Day, let’s be sure that the “living water” is flowing, and that it is flowing in such a way that our people will be immersed in the Spirit’s working in their lives.
–Maynard H. Belt