AVOIDING DIVINE JUDGMENT
by Given O. Blakely
If preaching is a preeminent activity in the Kingdom of God, it follows that men will especially be held
accountable for their preaching. There are a great number of approaches to preaching that are common in
educational circles. Some of them do have some merit, although they must be approached with a caution
dictated by faith. However, I do not know of any contemporary approach to preaching that emphasizes the
accountability of the preacher to the One that sends the preacher--the Living God!
Preachers are Sent!
Scripture apprizes us that a person cannot preach "unless they are sent" (Rom 10:15). Speaking
representatives of God have always been chosen and sent by God Himself. Moses the lawgiver was sent by
God Ex 3:13). All of the prophets were sent by God (Jer 7:25). John the Baptist was sent by God (John 1:6).
Jesus Himself was sent by God. The Apostles were sent by the Son of God (John 20:21). Through Jeremiah,
God confirmed that a false prophet is someone God did NOT send (Jer 14:14; 23:21,32; 27:15).
How Can You Know?
The knowledge of this condition has produced numerous questions in the minds of aspiring preachers.
How do they know they are "sent?" How can they be assured they are within the will of the Lord . . . etc.
This, of course, is answered in the very nature of the New Covenant. "They shall all know Me," declares
the Lord, "from the least to the greatest" (Jer 31:34; Heb 8:11). In Christ Jesus, we are sensitized to the will
of the Lord, as well as the Lord Himself. God's will is not discerned procedurally, or by formulae, but by
personal acquaintance with Him.
God has "set the members in the body as it has pleased Him" (1 Cor 12:18). Each of those members
is accountable to the Lord for their deportment in that position. Grace will be given to them to execute their
office with pleasing precision. If they fail to conduct themselves in a manner that will glorify the Lord, they
will be held in strict accountability.
A Needed Perspective
In my judgment, this knowledge is sorely needed among those who preach the Word. Preaching is not
an activity of career advancement. It is not an appointed way to become popular, or to become prominent
among men. This is the means God has chosen to bring and maintain faith to the sons of men. It is a activity
that can bring unusual blessing or cursing.
At least three things need to come together for the preacher to have confidence he is "sent" of God. First
and foremost, he must have something to say. God sends no preachers without a message! It is possible
to want to say something, and really have nothing to say. Such was the case with Ahimaaz, who insisted on
running to King David to report the outcome of a battle. As he stood before the king he said, "I saw a great
tumult, but I did not know what it was" (2 Sam 18:21). Alas, many a young preacher has so spoken. They
know something was happening, but did not know what it was. They knew Jesus had accomplished
something, but were unaware of what it was. They knew a message was in the Scriptures, but knew not what
it was. Let it be clear, God sends no such messenger. The person sent by God HAS A MESSAGE! There is
something burning shut up in his bones. It wears him out keeping it silent, and finally cannot help but speak
it. Jeremiah put it this way. "Then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire Shut up in my bones; And
I am weary of holding it in, And I cannot endure it" (Jer 20:9, NASB). The person from God HAS A
MESSAGE--something to say!
Second, the preacher sent from God has a desire to proclaim the message. He is not like Jonah, who
received a message and, for a while, did not want to tell it (Jonah 1:3). He was not allowed to preach until
he wanted to do it! Finally, from the bottom of the sea in a fish's belly, Jonah became willing to preach the
message. It was after his willingness that God said, "Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and proclaim to it
the proclamation (preaching, KJV) which I am going to tell you" (John 3:2, NASB).
Third, there is an opportunity to declare the message burning in the heart. Paul calls this "a wide door
for effective service" (1 Cor 16:9, NASB). Later Paul told the Corinthians a time "when a door was opened
for me in the Lord" (2 Cor 2:12). It was a time when he was restless in spirit, unable to be content with
remaining silent (v 13).
Paul had a message to declare, and wanted to declare it. He knew, however, that only the Lord could
provide the opportunity to effectively do this. Therefore he asked the Colossians to pray "that God may open
up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been
imprisoned; in order that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak" (Col 4:3-4).
Three things must be brought together to confirm you are sent. You must have something to say,
fervently want to say it, and have an opportunity to do so. When these three things come together you are,
in my judgment, "called," or "sent" to preach. Do so with power and confidence! The Lord sends and
HOW SERIOUS IS THE MATTER OF PREACHING?
The average speaking that is called "preaching" would lead you to believe it was not all that important.
There are men that stand and speak in the name of the Lord that spend less time preparing to preach than they
do in the preparation of a meal. For them, it is an activity that can be done with a small amount of thinking.
They think nothing of memorizing what another person has said, or borrowing an outline from a friend, or
simply talking about the hot issues of the day. They have seriously erred in their judgment! I want to
encourage you NOT to be an average preacher--NOT to fit into the mold that is altogether too common
among religious professionals. You would not want a mediocre surgeon performing heart surgery on you.
You would avoid a run-of-the-mill boat builder, if you were preparing a vessel to sail across the ocean. The
salvation and nourishment of souls for eternity is the most vital and enduring work ever instituted among
the sons of men. It must be entered into with the utmost seriousness.
So how does the individual avoid the judgement of God? How can the preacher be assured that when he
stands before God--and he will--that he will be commended and not condemned? You must not be afraid to
think about this. God will strengthen the individual that is truly concerned about what the Lord thinks of his
Be Diligent to Obtain God's Approval
Spend time preparing. Be disciplined in your approach. Have in mind to benefit the people of God and
convict sinners. But OVER AND ABOVE those noble ambitions, seek to please God. As it is written, "Be
diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling
accurately the word of truth" (2 Tim 2:15, NASB).
You are a "workman" in the Lord's field. It is His field, His purpose, His Word, and His people. You
have been called along side of Him, to labor with Him (1 Cor 3:9). He is desirous to bless you, strengthen
you, and reward you. You are part of a covenant of blessing--the New Covenant. Your ministry is to comport
with that Divine objective.
Some day you will stand before the Lord of glory, amidst the assembled universe. The eyes of the Lord,
all of the holy angels, and the faithful of all ages will be upon you. You do not want to be ashamed in that
day! You do not want to stand before the Lord as an unfaithful steward, or one that has missed the mark.
The way to avoid such a position is to give diligence to be an unashamed workman. The secret is in the
diligence--your diligence. In that fortitude you will experience the power of God. You will, by such holy
activity, avoid the condemning judgment of God.
Please the Lord Now!
This is the time to please the Lord. It makes little difference whether or not the people are pleased, if
your lord is NOT pleased. Take these words into your heart, and make them your own. "Therefore also we
have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. or we must all appear before the
judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what
he has done, whether good or bad" (2 Cor 5:9-10, NASB).
To bring pleasure to your Lord--that is the objective. This is Divine delight. It is a sense of holy
gratification at His investment in you. In your measure, determine to be classified with Paul--to be able to
confess what he did. "I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that He considered me
faithful, appointing me to his service" (1 Tim 1:12, NIV). By so doing, you WILL avoid the judgment of
Let the Lord Commend
At all cost, refrain from self-exaltation. The person who sees what they have done as "great" is not the
individual the Lord approves. Human assessment is not the criterion for commendation. Hear what the Spirit
says, "For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends" (2 Cor 10:18,
NASB). Let ALL of your commendation is of the Lord first, and those who are faithful to Him second.
Do Not Impress Men
You will be tempted to impress men. That is one of Satan's chief tactics, designed to bring Divine
disapproval. Paul once said, "If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ" (Gal
1:10, NIV). Servitude to God comes to a grinding halt at the point men become dominant in our thinking!
You have been entrusted with the glorious Gospel of Christ. It is a rich treasure, capable of inducing faith
and fortifying the souls of saints. "But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even
so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts. For neither at any time used we
flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloak of covetousness; God is witness: nor of men sought we glory,
neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ" (2 Thess
The Gospel is demeaned when it is covered with a mantel of humanly devised speech. It is robbed of its
power when it covered with a mantel of humor, philosophy, or other forms of the wisdom of this world.
Professed experts in the "art of preaching" will argue with this assessment, but their arguments are only
words filled with air. God has spoken on this subject, and no contradicting word is to be honored with a
To seek to unduly impress men, or to seek honor from them, makes the preacher a burden. He then
becomes a handicap to the hearers, standing between them and God As a barrier instead of a help. There is
no cost too great to pay in order to avoid this condition.
Capitalize on Divine Provision
Target the communication of the essentials of the Kingdom, making them primary in your thinking and
communication. Making main things primary will assist in avoiding the judgment of the Almighty. Hear the
Word of the Lord. "Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom
of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who in
this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men" (Rom 14:16-18, NASB).
A specialist in resolving social difficulties is not necessarily the person "acceptable to God." Those, on
the other hand, who IN "righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit" serves God, will be accepted by
Him. Such will avoid the judgment of God!
This is such an easy thing to miss. A little distraction, a little diversion, becoming caught up in things
that are seen--and soon the preacher is not serving God in these things. You will not be able to communicate
what you yourself do not have. Personal righteousness can be yours. A dominating peace, or awareness of
reconciliation to God, can be yours. A spirit that rejoices in the Lord can be yours. Minister while you are
in possession of these graces. They will help you avoid the judgment of God.
Preaching is not a mere job, or demanding responsibility. It is a unique opportunity to work together with
God--to participate in a reign with Christ. There are rewards that will go alone to the preacher, and you do
well to seek them. Paul spoke of this. "For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if against my will,
I have a stewardship entrusted to me" (1 Cor 9:17, NASB).
The word "voluntarily" means spontaneously, or without the compulsion of law. He had been called by
Christ to this noble work, but the insight of its glory proved a greater incentive for the Apostle than the
burden of obligation.
Here is one of the most sure ways to avoid the judgment of the Almighty--it is to be driven by a sense
of and participation in the Gospel. This is the experience to which Paul referred when he said, "I labored
more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me" (1 Cor 15:10).
If the preacher chooses to fulfill his calling unwillingly, or with a sense of obligation upon his heart, a
penalty will be paid. "if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me." Ah, a hard text for the
institutional man! If you do not freely give because you have freely received, you will preach with great
handicap! Remember, our Lord spoke of those that simply served Him out of a sense or obedience--without
heart, as it were. "So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, 'We are
unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done'" (Luke 17:10). Go beyond your
obligation! You have a stewardship from God. See it as a blessing, a privilege, and a means of appropriating
an exceeding and great reward from your Lord! You serve a gracious God!
The less the heart is involved, the more jeopardy there is. If you want to avoid the judgment of God,
preach as a bearer of living waters. Show the people a well from which you yourself have been refreshed.
Preach to please your Lord, and to save His people! Keep heaven in your eye! Declare war on anything and
everything that obscures the Lord Jesus Christ or makes the appropriation of glory more difficult. Judgment
day can be a time of blessing for you!
A Pleasing Fragrance to God
Select one of the following texts for your presentation
Matthew 5:13 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 1 Corinthians 1:21