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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN

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PERSUASIVE PREACHING.

A little boy named Tommy got very tired of the long sermon on Sunday.  After much squirming around, he finally said in a whisper- "Mom, if we give him the money now, will he let us out?"  Acts 23:23ff finds one of history's most powerful preachers trying to persuade a group of Jewish leaders in Rome to come to Christ.  Luke, the author of ACTS, records that on an appointed day the apostle Paul 'explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening" (verse 23).  Paul's sermon was not of the "fast-food, drive through, little-dab'll-do-ya" variety.  He is preaching a marathon sermon which lasted 'from morning to evening."  He is not pampering people.  His explicit purpose is stated- 'persuading them concerning Jesus!" What would you say the primary purpose of preaching should be?  Paul undeniably understood it to be to persuade people concerning Jesus Christ!

Someone has observed that if there are ice-sickles in the pew, there is probably a polar bear in the pulpit.  True enough generally speaking, but not all failure in preaching is the preacher's fault.  After Paul's persuasive, day-long sermon, Acts 23:24 records, 'And some were persuaded by the things which were spoken, and some disbelieved." Paul was not a polar bear.  He was on-fire for Christ, but there were some ice-sickles in his audience who remained cold and unpersuaded and unmoved!  That didn't prevent Paul from trying to persuade people concerning Jesus!  A-fter telling the Corinthians that we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, Paul goes on to say, 'Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men" (2 Corinthians 5:lla).  Paul practiced persuasive preaching.

Once a preacher said to an actor, "Pray tell me how it is that you gentlemen of the stage can affect your audience with things imaginary as if they were real, while we of the church speak of things real, which many of our congregation receive as things imaginary." The actor replied, "Why, the reason is plain.  We actors speak of things imaginary as if they were real; while too many in the pulpit speak of things real as if they were imaginary." Preachers should persuade us concerning the reality of Jesus, Heaven, hell, sin, salvation, death, judgement, and eternity.  Are you persuaded, or do you disbelieve?

Dan Gulley
For the Smithville Church of Christ