July 1, 1997 Issue
by Paul O. Nichols

The title of this article is taken from the incident recorded in Exodus 3:5 when God spoke to Moses while he was shepherding Jethro’s sheep. He was transfixed by the scene before him — a bush on fire but not consumed. While standing in amazement, he heard the voice of God command that he remove his shoes because he was on holy ground".

Today if there is ever a time when a man is on "holy ground" it is when he is preaching Christ and Him crucified. Qualifications are specified. The inspired writer says, "And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also" (2 Tim 2:2). Peter demanded, "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God" (1 Pet 4:11). Preaching and teaching the word of God is a serious matter. The pulpit is no place for frivolity and merrymaking. Theatrics and foolishness are as out of place in the pulpit as a cowbell in a musical concert, and beneath the dignity of a faithful representative of the crucified Christ. No man has a right to profane the pulpit while representing the Saviour of the world. Cuteness and slang may provoke a laugh from the less spiritual, but the more serious disciple of Jesus demands sincerity and evidence that Christ lives in us (Gal 2:20). Prurient interest may be elicited from the carnally minded with certain Bible subjects unless a preacher chooses with wisdom the words he uses to teach the people. Paul lets us know, "...It is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret" (Eph. 5:12). A preacher of the word of God ought to have enough judgment and good sense to know what is appropriate and what is not. One does not have to resort to "gutter talk" or the expressions of the unconverted to put over a lesson, even about immorality; or any other sin, for that matter.

When the apostle Paul came to Corinth he determined not to know anything save Jesus Christ, and him crucified (I Cor 1:2). This man of God realized although he had the inspired gospel he could handle it in a wrong way and thus nullify its effect. He said he was sent to "preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect" (1 Cor 1:17). He did not rely on’ "excellency of speech or of wisdom" of men (1 Cor 2:1). He said, "Seeing we have such hope we use great plainness of speech" (2 Cor 3:12). Paul also reminded the Thessalonians, "But as we were allowed men but God, which trieth our hearts. For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know....nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others..." (1 Thes 2:4-6). He considered it a privilege and honor to preach, as he called it, "the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust. And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry" (I Tim 1:11, 12).

Preaching the word of God was so important the apostle Paul and others wanted to be sure they did it with the right attitude and in the right way. Paul writes, "Therefore, seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy we faint not; but have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, not handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God" (2 Cor 4:1, 2). They knew "it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe" (1 Cor 1:21). And they realized "if our gospel be hid it is hid to them that are lost" (2 Cor 4:3). These men were aware as we ought to be, "He that winneth souls is wise" (Prov 11:30). No wonder he wrote, "For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus our Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus sake" (2 Cor 4:5).

With no stretch of the imagination can one who is an honest student of the Bible believe that Christ, Paul, or one of the other apostles would resort to the use of some of the antics of some modern day evangelists — using the pulpit for a political platform, or putting on a performance to entertain the frivolous or worldly minded "fun and games crowd", resorting to theatrics, or using cute or slang expressions, or pithy sayings in preference to quoting scripture. And using plainness of speech does not justify a preacher in the use of language that is offensive to the sensitive ears of the virtuous in the guise that he is preaching the truth. There are proper ways of saying things without resorting to innuendos or language that is suggestive. And brethren have a right to demand better of a gospel preacher. In conclusion, may I remind all of us who preach the saving gospel of Christ, it is a wonderful privilege and a great honor for us to be allowed to represent Christ in the world. Let us do it with dignity and with all seriousness. For when we are in the pulpit we are truly on "holy ground."

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