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Preaching by God's power
March 21, 2005
By Jeff Robinson

Alistair Begg greets students following his chapel sermon March 15 in Alumni Chapel. Begg was on Southern Seminary's campus for the March 14-15 Power in the Pulpit conference. Photo by David Merrifield

The response of King Jehoshaphat as the Ammonite and Moabite armies approached Judah would have stunned the authors of many contemporary manuals on church leadership, said noted pastor Alistair Begg at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary on March 15.

As the enemy soldiers drew near, Judah's king grew fearful, called a national fast, and cried out to the sovereign God who had made a covenant of redemption with Israel. God responded by destroying the enemy armies, setting off mass worship of the one true God throughout Judah.

Begg, pastor of Parkside Church in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, was the keynote speaker for Southern Seminary's annual "Power in the Pulpit" preaching conference which drew more than 300 pastors from Kentucky and surrounding states. Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. and preaching professor Hershael York were also featured lecturers. Begg is host of the national radio show "Truth for Life" and has written several books.

In the same manner as Jehoshaphat, ministers in the 21st century will discover God's power when they realize their own weakness and their utter dependence upon Him, Begg said.

"God's purpose is that we might depend entirely upon Him," Begg said. "Jesus didn't say, 'Apart from me you can do a few things.' He said, 'Apart from me you can do nothing.' We cannot do anything as we ought without the help that He gives."

God often brings adverse circumstances into the lives of ministers to demonstrate their weakness, Begg said. Only when a minister sees, like Jehoshaphat, that "the battle belongs to the Lord," will he be in a position to see lasting fruit born through his ministry, Begg said.

"If we will not come to the point where we flat-out are prepared to acknowledge our weakness and our powerlessness, then God because He wants to achieve His purpose, loves His church so much, and is prepared to use strange individuals like you and I will bring into our lives that which is necessary in order to bring us to the place where we have to admit that we are flat-out powerless," Begg said.

"And at that point, there is the possibility for progress. Until that point, we may be apparently influential, we may be strategically involved, we may have all kinds of things apparently going for us, and we may discover on that day [of judgment], what we thought was gold and silver and precious jewels, actually was wood, hay and stubble, and the day [of judgment] brought it to light."

Ministers must articulate the weakness of human beings and the power of God, Begg said. And the antidote to human impotence is not found in anxious hand wringing, but in the undiluted proclamation of the Word of God, Begg said.

"We need the Word of God brought home by the Spirit of God to the people of God in a way that addresses their circumstances," he said. "[Ministers need to say] 'This is what God says. What do we do now?' Even the king [Jehoshaphat] says he is powerless and clueless. You need to know that the battle isn't yours but it is God's. You need to learn what God does and you need to know what you are to do."

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