Basic Battle Training
Chapter 7: Stormin’ the Gate!
"What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light, and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops." (Matthew 10:27)
In Bible times life was much simpler than today. From the written page to communication in cyberspace, today's transfer of information is radically different from earlier times. Why then should one consider or emphasize the description of open air preaching found with Scripture? The obvious answer is the clear definition of these things, God’s direct commands, the numerous examples of public preaching within His Word, and the success it has had in reviving a dead Church and culture.
According to Noah Webster, "Preach" come from a Latin word meaning “to proclaim publicly"… a message "urging acceptance or abandonment of an idea or course of action" specifically "in an earnestly tiresome and officious manner."
A key word in this definition is "officious". The Prophets through Christ and the New Testament publicly proclaimed God's mind and The Gospel, suffering persecution and even death for their boldness and the offence of their message.
As Webster continues with his definition: "volunteering one’s services where they are neither asked for or even wanted; “meddlesome" and "high-handed."
True Biblical preaching conforms exactly to the above definition and was often to hostile crowds outside "religious" services...to those who would seek to even kill the messenger. In contrast, preaching today is confined to church or public meetings where only those who have interest are informed.
The Biblical Record
The Old Testament is rich with accounts of public preaching:
"Wisdom cryeth without. She uttereth her voice in the streets: she crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words" (Prov. 1:20-21).
"Doth not wisdom cry? And understanding put forth her voice? She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths. She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors." (Prov. 8:1-3).
- "Crieth" means speaking out loud.
- "Without" means outside.
- "Chief place of concourse" means where the people are.
Old testament prophets often preached at the gates of the city. These entrances were the busiest place in town and it was here that all kinds of activity took place:
- Business transactions (II Kings 7:1)
- Community meetings (Prov. 31:23)
- Legal decisions/court (II Sam. 15:2)
- Public executions (Deuteronomy 22:24)
- Public mourning (II Samuel 18:33)
- Daily chores (I Kings 17:10)
- Religious meetings/idolatry (II Chronicles 18:9)
- The poor (Proverbs 22:22)
A man preaching at the gate would not only reach a large amount of people, but would also have an impact on the business community, court decisions, idolatrous meetings, soldiers, government, etc., etc.
Amos was a gate preacher: "They hate him that rebuketh in the gate, and they abhor him that speaketh uprightly. (Amos 5:10)
Isaiah was a gate preacher: They "lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate…" (Isaiah 29:21)
Jeremiah was a gate preacher: "Thus said the Lord unto me, Go and stand in the gate of the children of the people, whereby the kings of Judah come in, and by the which they go out, and in all the gates of Jerusalem; and say unto them, Hear ye the word of the Lord, ye kings of Judah, and all Judah, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem that enter in by these gates: Thus saith the Lord…" (Jeremiah 17:19-20)
These men of the Old Testament did not use low-key, soft approaches. There were no invitations to religious meetings, literature tables, tract distributions, traveling Gospel singing teams, puppet shows, motorcycle jumps or drama teams. They simply stood up publicly with the clear message of God's mind and proclaimed it with the vigor it demands.
New Testament examples and exhortation
- Go ye into all the world, and." preach the Gospel to every creature." (Mark 16:15)
- "Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus." (Colossians 1:28)
Lasting only about 6 months before his martyr’s death, the first preacher in the New Testament was John the Baptist. Once again, his preaching was lacking comfortable buildings, music, entertainment, etc. John was a public, open-air preacher.
- "In those days came John the Baptist preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 3:1-2; see also Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3)
Facing an almost immediate death within His own home synagogue, Jesus’ most famous sermons were all delivered outdoors. These he demonstrated in:
- The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5,6,7).
- In Luke 6:17 he preached to a "great multitude" in "the plain".
- His "Olivet discourse" (Matthew 24) was delivered on the Mount of Olives.
- In Matthew 13 His well-known parables were preached to "great multitudes" by the seaside as he sat in a boat and taught to the shore.
Several times a year, all the Jews in the world would come to Jerusalem for the Feasts (see Exodus 23:14,17). Grasping this opportunity, Christ would go and preach to the large crowds gathered there.
- The Passover is mentioned in John 2:13; 6:4; and 12:1,
- The Feast of Tabernacles is in John 7:2, and John 5:1.
- Hanukkah is recorded in John 10:22.
- Twice it is remembered that Jesus came to Jerusalem to “cleanse the Temple” and preach to the multitudes. John 2, Matthew 21, Mark 11 and Luke 19.
In place of the Biblical mandate and the numerous examples found therein, the traditional approaches today are far from the mind of God. As we have cited, today's approach has become one of "the Church alter call" or large meetings that target only those who have interest. At best, the sheep are exhorted to only witness or bring someone to hear “the expert”. Even the whole tone has been lost, as the jargon and practice of "sharing" (which verbiage in nowhere to be Biblically found) has replaced the salt and light of true Biblical proclamation. When confronted with these facts, Satan's influence is manifested as the shepherds of today explain that the preaching found in the Bible is “passé”, "out of date", and "not for our time".
Again, compare this position to Jesus' actual words:
- "What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light, and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops." (Matthew 10:27)
- Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops. (Luke 12:3)
The Whole Council of God!
It should be noted here that preaching repentance involves the whole counsel and Law of God as foundation for the Gospel. In the decadence of our culture today this will involve the whole of God's character, His attitude, and all the moral instruction found in Scripture. This confrontation of culture is not new:
"Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. “Therefore disputed he in the market daily” (Acts 17:17)
Yes, the apostles’ evangelism often involved "disputing"...not just the preaching about God's love, but actually demonstrating it by disputing and trying to convince the gainsayers
"He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully." (2 Corinthians 9:6)
Public proclamation of God’s Word and mind is not an option for the Church, but is our mandate. The definition of this ministry is clear from language, Scripture and common sense …and should either be fulfilled or supported by all that name the name of Christ
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