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Olford calls for return to Spirit-anointed expository preaching
March 18, 2004
By Jeff Robinson
A minister who seeks to be biblical must preach a message that includes both the person and work of Christ, must walk in the manner of Christ and must be motivated to see the Holy Spirit form a steadfast faith in the hearts of unbelievers, noted preacher and author Stephen Olford said March 12 at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Olford said Spirit-annointed expository preaching is missing from the pulpits of contemporary churches and also from much modern evangelism. Preaching from 1 Cor. 2:1-5, Olford set forth a biblical profile of an authentic preacher of God’s Word as one having a particular message, manner and motivation.
Olford is the founder of the Stephen Olford Center for Biblical Preaching and is author of numerous books on preaching. His sermon was both Southern’s chapel address and the final presentation in the 14th annual National Conference on Preaching held March 8-11 at the seminary.
Modern ministers are more often prone to preach in a way that panders to the self-centered “felt needs” of people while ignoring their deepest, eternal needs, he said. Instead, ministers must expound the Bible as God’s inerrant, and eternal Word.
“Paul held these two principles as overarching for every preacher…namely, that the Word of God is not only inerrant, it has an eternality, saying one and the same thing (throughout eternity),” he said.
“There is no time from creation until we get to glory and crown Him Lord of all, when we will need to change our message because so-called culture demands it.”
The message a minister must proclaim is one that includes both the person and work of Christ, Olford said. Ministers must teach a biblical understanding of both Christ’s incarnation and deity alongside His work of redemption on the cross.
“We cannot preach who He is until we preach what He is,” Olford said. “He is God and we need to help people understand what Jesus meant when he said ‘I and the Father are One.’ We must also preach God’s redemption plan in the person and work of Christ.”
The manner in which a minister walks is also crucial to Spirit-annointed preaching, he said. A minister must portray Himself in the manner of Christ, displaying Christ-like humility, simplicity and authority, he said.
Regarding humility, Olford said, “True preaching involves a conscious attitude of a total dependence on God.” Regarding simplicity, Olford said a minister must learn to express the profound truths of God in language simple enough for a child to comprehend. A preacher must also understand it is the power of the Holy Spirit that enables him to preach with authority.
“Let us eschew the extreme and get back to the biblical teaching,” he said. “The Holy Spirit is God. He is co-equal with the Father and the Son and He is sovereign. We won’t be truly preaching the Word until we know that anointing.
“So much preaching today is about ‘felt needs.’ This (type of preaching) is nothing but a pandering to the subjective needs of the human heart. Only the Holy Spirit can address the real needs.”
Finally, a minister’s motive must be to see the Holy Spirit create a steadfast saving faith in unbelievers, he said. Churches in America are hemorrhaging, Olford said, losing upwards of 50,000 people each Sunday at the hands of a watered-down gospel that has failed to enliven their hearts with a steadfast, Spirit-wrought faith.
“Nothing less than this (Paul’s instructions in 1 Cor. 2:1-5) constitutes what God expects of you and me as we go forth from here this morning,” he told students and conference attendees. “This is both the profile and the purpose of the New Testament preacher.”