Summary: Preachers don’t want to ruffle feathers, lest folks fly away, startled, and go to a church down the street. And so we preachers often preach anything but God’s Word. But God uses real preachers, not pale, second-rate imitations.
Today, the Church finds herself wandering on dangerous terrain, for she no longer wants to listen to her preachers. Even worse, preachers don’t want to preach. They don’t want to ruffle feathers, lest folks fly away, startled, and go to a church down the street. And so we preachers often preach anything but God’s Word.
But then, how many congregations want a pastor who calls the religious a brood of vipers like John the Baptizer did? Who wants a pastor who will tell us to repent from our comfortable sins? Who wants a pastor to confront someone and tell him to bear the fruits of repentance? When you called me to be your shepherd, your pastor, did you say, “We want a man who will call us a ‘brood of vipers?’” I didn’t think so.
Today, we’ve made an idol of church-attendance figures instead of letting the Word of God decide matters. It has led to the Church lacking in prophetic preachers. We are scarce in preachers who speak the Word of God, for fear of offending and calling people out of the comfort of their sins. If I have been such a false preacher, then I repent.
For God uses real preachers, not pale, second-rate imitations. That’s how He works. He sent prophets. He sent apostles. And today, He sends pastors “to prepare the saints, to do the work of ministry, and to build up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12). Through the preached Word, the Church is to grow in the maturity of Christ, and not be blown by courses of every foolish wind and doctrine that whisper sweet poison into her ears. That’s why God sent the prophet Isaiah. That’s why He sent John the Baptizer. That’s why He sent His Apostles. And that’s why today, He sends His preachers.
And when God’s preachers have preached God’s Word, it is the Lord’s mouth that has spoken. And that’s the Word that Isaiah is sticking into our ears today. “The Lord’s mouth has spoken.” And where the Lord’s mouth has spoken, there God’s Word is bristling with His power, bringing to us His life and salvation. For to truly live, we can only do so by every Word that goes forth from the mouth of God.
God speaks from His mouth, both sides. He speaks His shrapnel Word of Law and He speaks His healing Word of Gospel. He speaks His wrath and mercy, all in one breath, all by the same Spirit, sometimes even in the same verse. Today we have that from the Prophet Isaiah: The Law sandwiched between two slices of Gospel.
From the Lord’s mouth comes a comforting Word. “Comfort, comfort my people,” says your God. Speak from a heart of love, speak to the heart of My Bride, and speak consoling words to her. Comfort her, but don’t make her comfortable. And remember, pronounce My forgiveness upon her.
Yes, God sends His preachers to preach a comforting Word. He wants to woo His Bride, His Church, with tender words. For if Christ has died, if He has paid the punishments of our sin under Law, then the Law can no longer condemn us. We have received from the Lord’s hand double for all our sins. Not just enough to get the job done, but double forgiveness, overflowing forgiveness, a life-giving flood of forgiveness.