The Town Criers
Ro 10:14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?
15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!"
It always comes down to the Word of God doesnít it? What a sorry lot the church would be if we all sat around and just hoped that others would call on the Lord without a word from us. If we just gathered together once a week to sing some feel good songs, hear some feel good words and neglected to preach the Word.
How can anyone call on someone in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? You gotta call on the Lord, but you wonít call on the Lord until you believe on the Lord and you canít believe on the Lord unless youíve heard about the Lord! Itís that simple!
Itís like you or I having a rich uncle of whom we knew nothing about, and he would die and leave us this huge amount of money. The money would sit unless someone would come and tell us. Unless we were notified of this rich uncle and what he has done, we would not believe that such riches could be ours!
We would need to hear, and how could we hear without a proclaimer or publisher of that news! Every now and then the newspaper prints a list of people who have unclaimed money with the state of Wisconsin. If you happened to see your name on that list, would you take the necessary steps to claim it?
Most people would. but some people wouldnít. They might think there were strings attached, or that it couldnít be enough money to make the effort. If you were one of those who wouldnít bother, what would it take for you to bother? How much money would attract your interest? What assurance would you need that there were no strings attached?
Would a call from a stranger be enough? A certified letter? Well my friend, We have a certified letter for you from God. Itís called the Bible. What makes this Word certifiable? How do we know the Bible is the Word of God and not just an ordinary book?
The answer is, we take it by faith, we believe it. Until I had faith, the Bible was just another book, but faith aside, there is some strong evidence backing up the Christian claim of divine inspiration.
There is internal evidence and external evidence. letís first of all look at the internal. The first evidence we have is itís unity. Even though there are 66 different books, written on three continents, in three different languages over a period of 1500 years, there is not one contradiction and there is an indescribable flow, a common thread to itís words.
Then there are the detailed prophecies. There are hundreds of prophecies concerning individual nations, individual leaders, future cities, and the coming Messiah. There are over 300 prophecies concerning Jesus in the Old Testament alone.
Not only was it foretold where He would be born and what family He would come from, but also how He would die and rise from the dead on the third day. There is no other book available to men with such detailed prophecy and this speaks of divine origin.
A third internal evidence of divine origin is in itís unique authority and power. This authority and power are best seen in the way that the Bible has changed lives. Drug addicts have been cured by it, homosexuals have been set free by it, derelicts and deadbeats have been transformed by it, hardened criminals reformed by it, sinners are rebuked by it, and hate has been turned to love by reading it.
The Bible possesses a dynamic and transforming power that is only possible because it is truly Godís Word. Now, other books have had similar transforming effects, but none to the extent of the Bible.
The external evidence of the Bible is seen in itís verifiable link to history. Though not a history book, the Bible accurately portrays history when it is relevant to Godís message to us. Archaeological evidence mounts every day proving the existence of people, places, and things, mentioned in Scripture.
Then thereís the integrity of the authors. God used men from all walks of life to write the Bible and each and every one of them were sold out to God. They were not afraid to die for what God had shown them and led them to understand by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Finally, there is the ďindestructibility of the Bible. Though evil men of old, communist dictators, atheists, agnostics, and liberal theologians have tried to destroy it by burning it, outlawing it, or just casting doubt upon itís authenticity, the Bible stands, and it always will, for Jesus Himself said,
Mt 24:35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
This certifiable letter speaks of a God who loved the world, and that includes you, so much that He sent His only Son to die for your sins and He promises unspeakable, unsearchable riches in heaven for eternity those who become His children through faith.
1Pe 1:4 speaks of ďan inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,Ē
And there are no strings attached, for He says in this certifiable letter, that the riches await all who will simply believe and call on His name. He reminds us that we are saved by grace (unmerited, no strings attached, favor) through faith, through simple child-like trust in Jesus.
Well look at that. I have just done the job of a preacher. A preacher is a proclaimer or publisher, a heralder, a town crier if you will. He says, ďhear ye, hear ye! Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ who died for your sins, and who was raised from the dead by God so that you may receive forgiveness of your sins and eternal life!Ē Hear ye! Hear ye!
That is the message of the church and now you know why churches have bells.
And Paul challenges us here. ďHow shall anyone hear the town crier, unless he is sent. He canít just sit in his office with his feet up on the desk filling out paper work and checking his e-mail all day long. The town crier must get out and bring the good news to people. He must be sent.
The requirements for the job of town crier are not all that stringent. You must first of all be able to be heard (that doesnít mean you have to have a loud voice...just audible) and you must stick with what youíve been told to say. Thatís it. Every single one of you have the qualifications to be a town crier, a heralder, a bearer of the Good News.
You donít have to be an expert debater, or a theologian, or an extrovert....all you have to do is proclaim what you know about salvation. I love the sign I have seen over several church exit doors, perhaps youíve seen it too. ďYou are now entering the mission field.Ē Oh if we would just remember that! When we leave, we become preachers....bearers of Good News!
How many of you leave here with that mindset on Sunday? I hate to admit this, but this past week I had an opportunity to be a town crier and I failed miserably. I was out on the golf course and paired up with a man whose language would make a sailor blush. Now, I didnít say anything to him about his language...Iím used to it and I remember how I used to curse and swear before I knew Jesus.
But after the third hole, he asked me what I did for a living, I told him I was a pastor and oh boy, did he start apologizing for his language! But once he knew I was a pastor the conversation began to turn spiritual, and I had an opening big enough to drive a truck through, but I didnít. I kind of drove up to the door and left it there.
And as I was confessing this sin, and thatís what it is folks, God showed me something that I didnít care to see. The reason I didnít press on with the gospel was ďI didnít want to ruin this manís afternoon golf game!Ē Never mind that he may be ruined for eternity, indeed will be ruined, unless someone brings him the Good News and he believes it.
I just wanted him to have a good time golfing. I sincerely hope my reason didnít go down the road of ruining my golf game, because that would be even worse. Besides my golf game is ruined enough already.
Not only that , but it would be ridiculous to think that sharing the gospel with someone during a round of golf would make for a ďforgettableĒ round of golf! . I couldnít imagine having a better round of golf than if I had the opportunity to herald the gospel and the person who heard the Good News would give his life to Christ. Howíd you do today Duane? I donít know, but I had an opportunity to share the gospel! I didnít break 50, but I led someone to the Lord!
Now I want you to know that Godís not through with me or that other golfer yet, and I ask you to be in prayer over the matter. I managed to get his phone number and am now waiting for a return call. I am going to herald the Good News to this man! And I am thankful that I will get a second chance....sometimes it doesnít work that way and we miss the moment!
But each of us have these opportunities presented to us, and we need to learn to seize them. We are qualified as town criers, and we are called to share the Good News.
1Pe 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; (NKJV)
Thereís a hint in this passage in how we can be empowered to do this. ......sanctify the Lord God in your heart. Set Him apart from your golf game, your shopping excursion, or whatever else you are doing, make Him number one in all circumstances and you will be ready to share the gospel at a moments notice.
Living Word Lutheran ought to be sending out preachers. People should leave here in love with Jesus and excited to share the Good News of His great salvation by grace! But not only ďpart-timeĒ preachers in day to day living, but full time missionaries.
These missionaries can be evangelists, Bible translators, and any and all types of support people. They can be televangelists, or Christian radio stations and their various ministries. Anyone involved in publishing or proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ.
I hope and pray that one day, Living Word will be a sending church. I pray that even now, some of our young people will be called by God and dedicate their lives to sharing the Good News through missionary endeavors. I hope and pray that some of our young men will hear the call of God into the pastorate.
I hope you are currently part of monthly support for a missionary. It doesnít take much, 5 or 10 dollars a month on a regular basis means much to a missionary, of course if you are able itís okay to give more! But let these words of Paul ring in your ears
ďHow shall they preach unless they are sent?Ē And I might add, how can they be sent without support? You know the Greek word for ďsentĒ here is the idea of a sickle going through the corn. What a beautiful word picture for the harvest of souls!
Jesus said in Joh 4:35 "Do you not say, 'There are still four months and then comes the harvest'? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!
There are people just like that man I met on the golf course who are in or will be in your circle of influence and they need to hear the Gospel! They donít need to be debated, they just need to hear the town crier. Hear ye! Hear Ye! This is what God has done for the world! Hear ye, hear ye, this is what God has done for you!
The problem is many times the Christian is known as the town whiner or the town cry baby rather than the town crier!
Lu 10:2 Then He said to them, "The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. (NKJV)
Pray for laborers to be raised up and then be prepared to send them!
16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our report?"
17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Alright, so I go out and proclaim the gospel. I share it with that man on the 4th hole at Autumn Ridge but nothing happens. Was it a waste of time? Hardly! And God makes sure we know itís not a waste of time because He tells us that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.
This is a great passage and it takes all the burden off of the town crier. He just speaks the Word and the Word takes the spiritual wax out of the ears of those who will hear it. You donít have to do it, in fact you canít do it!
Have you ever had a wax build up in your ears? Every sound you hear becomes muted. Initially it is very irritating but after a while you get used to it, but what a relief when your ears are opened up!
When that happens to me now, I get the ear syringe out and do the disgusting deed of dislodging the wax. Most of the time, it doesnít come free on the first, second, or third try, but I keep at until it does, and when it does break free, it is so wonderful for sounds to be able to come crisply and cleanly into my ears again!
I didnít know it, but most of my adult life was lived in a muted existence. I didnít want anything to do with the gospel. I closed my ears to it, I pushed the syringe away. But thankfully faithful preachers were sent to me.
God kept bringing people into my life who kept heralding the good news, who kept bringing the syringe of Good News to my ears. And one day it finally broke through and I heard it and I was set free!
Itís the Word of God that has the power to open our ears and enables us to hear the Good News! We may use all sorts of techniques and styles to get people to listen, but it is still the heralded Word that causes us to hear.
It must not be some warmed over porridge or a feel good social gospel, it must be the Word that convinces us of our sin and illuminates the path to receiving the cure for our sin....faith in Jesus.
The Bible tells us that the Word of God is the sword of the Spirit (Eph 6:17)
It is living and powerful , and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerenr of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Heb 4:12)
Isnít that incredible? One Book able to pierce soul and spirit, joint and marrow. Iíll tell you when the Word does that to you, you are ready to listen. Youíve just been fileted by the Holy Spirit, laid open and completely exposed for who you are! A sinner in need of grace!
When Godís Word lays you open, faith is about to erupt! You canít fool this Word either. It discerns your thoughts and your intentions. The Word knows genuine faith and it knows the hypocrite. The Holy Spirit works continually in the word to bring about genuine faith and genuine faith is this.
I believe that I am a sinner. I believe that the wages of my sin is death. I believe Jesus paid the wage when He died on the cross. I believe God accepted that payment when Jesus rose from the dead. In short I believe that God has forgiven my sins and only desires for me to receive the gift.
I have an incredibly rich brother who passed away on a hill outside Jerusalem 2000 years ago and He has named me as a beneficiary. All I have to do is claim it by faith and all of His riches are mine.