WHERE IS YOUR PULPIT?
Not all sermons are preached in church sanctuaries. In fact, most sermons are preached in other kinds of sanctuaries. Jesus preached sermons in sanctuaries called hillsides, upper rooms, gardens, boats, wildernesses, and
pool sides. A ‘sanctuary’ is a place where God’s Person is present to hear worship, speak to hearts, and bless those who have gathered in His name.
Wherever the sanctuary is, and wherever one is called to preach does not matter. We can preach at the dinner table, riding in a car, walking in the park, sitting in a book club, or doing time in a prison. The sanctuary is wherever two or three gather in Jesus’ name.
Matthew 18:20 (KJV)
For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
The sanctuary where one preaches, is wherever two or three or more gather in the name of Jesus. There God’s presence will be, that makes the place holy and blessed.
Nehemiah 8:4 (KJV)
And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose; and beside him stood Mattithiah, and Shema, and Anaiah, and Urijah, and Hilkiah, and Maaseiah, on his right hand; and on his left hand, Pedaiah, and Mishael, and Malchiah, and Hashum, and Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam.
The word ‘pulpit’ there in Nehemiah, is the only time that Hebrew word is translated ‘pulpit’. It is the Hebrew (Strong's #4026) word “migdal”. It is usually translated ‘tower’. It was often a pyramid shaped tower, upon which a guard would stand to watch over the vineyard, the city. It often was planted with flowers on the tower sides.
Therefore, it was not like the ‘pulpit’ that we think of in churches. There is no mention of that kind of ‘pulpit’ in Scripture. Yet, you would think there was a whole book of the Bible on it, for church dogma has applied some firm and staunch teachings on it.
Ezra was a ‘ready scribe in the law of Moses’, and he had ‘prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord and to do it, and to teach Israel statutes and judgments.” In other words, he was a preacher of righteousness. He stood on the migdal, he did not set his Scriptures on it, nor pound on it with authority like we see some do with today’s idea of a pulpit.
Did Ezra have a ‘lectern’ upon which to set the Word of God? We do not know that he did or did not. The Word of God does not consider it important enough to tell us.
He stood on this ‘tower’ to be seen by more people. Perhaps he was short, perhaps the crowd was too big to all be able to see him. The ‘pulpit’ of that day is much like we think of the ‘platform’ of today in churches. It was Ezra’s soap box, his pedestal.
Ezra was careful to have all the people instructed in the law of Moses. The Bible was written at the command of God. It needs preached. The people need to learn from it. The Bible is written at the command of God, and preachers are to preach it, due to the command of God.
2 Peter 1:19-21 (KJV)
We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
So, preachers have a command to preach, a duty to preach, and a Bible with which to do it. Can we use a lectern? Of course, we can. Shall we make that lectern something that has laws about it, who can stand behind it, of what is it to be made, and dangers of it being touched by some unworthy person bringing death, as the ark of the covenant had that kind of prohibition and danger?
Do not misunderstand, all a preacher does must be done with respect for the calling, respect for God’s presence, and an awesome awareness of God’s holiness. But to give reverence to a pulpit, like it was the ark in the holy of holies, is missing the point that the ‘Ark’ of God is our person, not a wooden lectern.
In some homiletical writings I have seen instructions for the ‘pulpit’. For some teach therein, that it cannot be leaned upon. Some say that it must be honored as ‘holy’, and only the minister himself can stand behind it. Soloists, ushers, ones making announcements cannot be behind the pulpit. You would think it to be alive and so holy that if a holy saint, but not a called preacher, touch it, it would strike them dead. Some go almost that far about the chairs behind the pulpit, with rules like having an arm resting, but never both arms resting at the same time. And they teach that rising from the chair one must never push up with the hands, but rise with leg strength only. Those rules are engendered by sincere, but misled people tending toward ‘legalism’ as a replacement for anointing. Some people are weak of leg strength and need to push up from a chair, do we disqualify them from preaching? Some may lean on the pulpit because of that same weakness, Jesus actually sat down often in His sermons.
A preacher should arrive at the ‘pulpit’, if there actually happens to be one, with an ‘anointing’ of God upon them. He can stand on the pulpit, sit on it, dance on it, lean on it, and lay down on it, if he feels so led by God. There are no Scriptures to deny the preacher any such behavior.
The pulpit is optional, though sometimes useful to hold the Bible and one’s notes. The platform is more vital, to raise one up so the congregation can see better. Jesus sat in a boat, that had to be lower than the crowd, for they were on the higher shore. So, I find no Scripture to enforce even a platform. Since the pulpit is not the Ark in the holy of holies, it can be touched by saint, sinner, preacher, or whomever.
What respect is advisable for the area wherein we preach? Well, if the ‘pulpit’ is a table in a local restaurant, there may be silverware on it, dishes, food, and beverages. Does that hinder the sermon being preached to those on the other side of that same table? No, it does not hinder. The pulpit of the preacher in that place of God’s presence is just as holy as the polished oak pulpit with a beautiful display of lilies on front of it, in the magnificent sanctuary of a cathedral.
What needs to be holy and anointed is the preacher, not the pulpit, table, armrest of a chair, or rock being used to hold the Bible.
When a preacher approaches the place of his/her sermon, they should come with the realization that they are channels through which God wants to pour out blessings, announce His soon coming, and teach His instructions. The gravity of God’s work should insure that the preacher comes with sanctify and respect for God, not for furniture, for buildings, or for one’s garb. The minister should be dressed in a way that does not distract from the message from God. The preacher should have been praying, communing with God previous to the arrival.
When sitting behind that ‘pulpit’ of some sanctuaries, waiting to preach, one should not be distracted with subjects other than the message given by God. One should keep dignity, but not seek glory for their presence, nor feel like they are the “Lord”, and not just a messenger for the Lord.
The pulpit, the podium, the lectern used inside the place of the sermon does set the preacher apart from the congregation. It can help to hold the Bible, the sermon notes. Yet, it can hinder, by making the preacher look like he speaks from a superior role, or as an authority.
1 Peter 5:1-4 (KJV)
The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
1 Timothy 4:13 (KJV)
Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.
The words ‘give attendance’ is the Greek word “prosecho’ and means to ‘pay attention to, be cautious about, apply oneself to, adhere to’. Preachers are entrusted with a message from God, and should pay attention to the passages that they are preaching. Unfortunately, the Scripture, in many sermons of today, is given secondary status. Often the preacher misstates its meaning, misapplies its application, and twists it to meanings never intended. In the study of the Word, one should ‘be cautious’ about the passage being preached. Reverential conviction of diligence of study is required. Reading the passage multiple times, verifying the original language, and prayerful communion with its Author, is vital to having the same reaction to the reading of the word, as Jesus had in Luke 4::20.
Luke 4:20 (KJV)
And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.
The message of the passage should be so instilled into the preacher, that is not difficult to speak the words being read with the same tone, emotion, and conviction of the original speaker of that passage. The volume may be soft, or loud, but two things determine the proper volume of the preacher, i.e. the distance to the congregation, and the emotion one is portraying for those words. If the most distant one from the sermon can hear with ease, there is no reason to speak louder. If the emotion of the message, and the anointing of the preacher calls for a bit of volume, it needs not held in to try to portray dignity.
Spurgeon said: ‘Understand that reaching everyone does not require blasting anyone. Save the explosions for the moments they are needed.’
The grooming and dress of the preacher communicates much. If one is preaching a private sermon to a farmer, one may dress as a farmer. If the message is to Wall Street moguls, the farmer’s outfit may hinder the message by distraction. The congregation and setting should affect the preacher to see that the grooming and dress are not hindrances to the hearing of God’s message.
God has made the human body to be easily mobile. Therefore it is natural to assume the preacher will move, but not pace with nervousness. The preacher should feel free to move as needed, as wanted. The movements and gestures of the preacher emphasize the sermon. Arms hanging limply by one’s side, stillness rather than movement, display a emotionless feeling.
A clenched fist, shaken at the word ‘angry’ illustrates the feeling the preacher may be trying to show. Gestures made, should be natural and clarifying, but not distractions to the message.
Spurgeon is reported to have said to a class of preachers that ‘when speaking about heaven, let your face shine with the radiance of the sun, and all its glory, but when speaking about hell, then your natural face will do.’
One’s eyes reflect interest in the congregation or lack of interest. Eye contact, eye movements, and eye revelations of one’s emotions, are vital to be natural. Re-experiencing the feeling of the message, during the message, is vital. Do not preach what you once felt, feel what you are preaching. If the message is ‘God loves’ let your body, your words, your eyes, your gestures illustrate that feeling of overwhelming joy of the love of God upon you. Preachers are not to preach of a past feeling or your past experience, they are to experience it afresh during the sermon presentation.
Don’t let contrived, programmed gestures, designed voice inflections, and emphatic demonstrations of pretend emotions to try to imply the sermon is being felt inside the preacher. The art of preaching is to be done with real emotions, engendered by the real passion of feelings of God.
The ‘anointing’ of God is the sharing of God’s emotions with the one preaching about them. Anointing from God is the sharing of the spiritual fervor of God, that flows through man in the delivering of the sermon.
There are different styles of preaching, different methods of designing the sermon, and different vocabularies and languages with which to preach, but the anointing of the preacher should demonstrate the feelings of ONE, i.e. the Spirit of God. This makes the preaching to be of divine grandness, of great importance. The composing of the sermon, the imagination of how to deliver it, the prayer that secures it to the soul of the preacher, are all grooming for the anointing.
Why do some preachers lack the passion, the anointing of God’s emotions upon them? This is shameful that the question even needs asked. The ones called to preach are often taught the ‘art’ but not the fact that the Artist is God, and preachers are only conveyers of His passions. Some preachers are imitating seminary lectures, or trying to copy famous preachers they have heard. Some others are displaying intellectualism of their Bible understanding. Some relate wonderful personal experiences. Some have inhibited personality and need anointing to release God’s passion through their subdued frame. The good news is that the passion of preaching is not taught, it is received with the anointing.
Acts 1:8 (KJV)
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me.
The Greek word for ‘power’ is dunamis, meaning ‘might, power, strength, ability.’ When the anointing of the Spirit is upon us, it gives us supernatural braveness to preach, it gives a power that is from the Divine One.
God wants us to be ‘thoroughly furnished’... ‘that the man of God may be perfect.’ (II Timothy 3:15-17) If you are willing to be dishonored, despised, de-valued, hated, shunned, by others, then this anointing can come upon you
David was a man ‘after God’s own heart.’ This means that David wanted to know God’s thoughts and feelings. The anointing will share with you God’s thoughts, God’s messages, and God’s feelings. Few have that much spiritual ambition.
“There is none... that stirreth up himself to take hold of Thee.’
Too often this is still the case. Many do not ‘stir up’ themselves, to really grasp God’s feelings and thoughts.
‘The steps of a good man are ordered of the Lord.’
The anointing of God’s power, is being offered. It shall exude a power never seen in this world before. We were promised that ‘greater works’ were to come in the lives of Christians, than had been in Jesus’ ministry. We are about to see that time, that full fulfillment of that promise.
The anointing is the ‘glory’ of God. It rests upon the children of God. It is sometimes strong, sometimes weaker. The word ‘glory’ is the Greek word ‘doxa’. It means a ‘very apparent glory manifesting God’s approval.’
Hebrews 1:3 says that Jesus, ‘being the brightness of His (God’s) glory.” Jesus reflected in His Person, the brightness, anointing of the glory of God. In these last days, we shall have more and more of the glory of God resting upon us.
“Jesus... Who shall change our vile body, that it might be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself.”
Jesus was ‘crowned with glory’ (Hebrews 2:7). This ‘crown’ of God’s glory, i.e. the anointing can rest upon the preachers.
I Peter 4:14
“If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye, for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you, on their part, He is evil spoken of, but on your part, He is glorified.”
So, as opposition comes, it only brings increased anointing of glory upon us. The Lord will allow opposition, but with it comes more and more glory and miracles that bring God’s glory to this world.
“The sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
The anointing will be revealed upon us, more and more, as the opposition from the devil’s side increases.
II Corinthians 3:18
“But we all with open face, beholding, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory.”
We abound in the anointing glory of God, going from one stage of glorious anointing to another. This glory is always increasing as we see the day approaching. We become daily more and more the ‘glorious’ church for which Christ is coming.
The plan of God for the double portion time of this revival, is for the preachers to take the ‘glory’ of God, everywhere. He is outfitting us with more anointing glory than ever before. The devil has sensed it, and has begun more opposition than ever before. Yet, the glory anointing is far too strong for the devil, for it is the glory of God, not of ourselves. And as we go various places, the ‘glory’ of God will ‘break out everywhere.’
When Jesus returns, He will come with ‘power and glory’ (Matthew 24:30, Mark 13:26, Luke 21:27). God wants us to walk and preach in this anointing of God upon us. And everywhere we walk, the glory of God breaks out, manifested in signs, wonders, miracles, and power. The preacher’s ministry, when he has the anointing help of the Spirit of God, is followed by signs and wonders.
How do we keep that power, that anointing, that fresh surge of heavenly strength and wisdom? The convictions of the apostles show us how they maintained this anointing glory.
Acts 6:4 (KJV)
But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.
It became a life style, a relationship with the One of Whom we preach. To preach Jesus, we must know Jesus. To converse with Him daily in prayer, to read His message daily in the Word, keeps our relationship close, and the anointing of His feelings into us is without difficulty.
No one has a spotless, sinless life. Yet, knowing the merciful Lord Jesus, can allow preachers many cleansings, healings from sin and its effects. Then in the spotless forgiveness of salvation, preachers can share that release from guilt and shame. Long ago, it was common to hear that preachers should preach by their lives, or not preach at all. The most effective preaching though is not the claim of spotless, sinless life, but the claim of knowing the One Who can destroy sin and its effects.
Sometimes the preachers are far from godly, and far from repentant. The best preaching is fortified by godly living, but some pretend or imitate godliness. Well prepared sermons, eloquently spoken sermons are marred, ineffective due, too often, to the immorality and unethical attitudes of the preacher. The worldliness of the spirit, the inconsistency of the life that is found in many preachers make the gospel message to be shamed.
Even those immoral preachers can repent. God delights in hearing the cries of penitent sinners. Repentance takes more than sorrow for sin, but also a turning away from sin, from wrong-doing. True repentance results in a change in character and in conduct. Deception is replaced by humble confession of sin. Praying replaces the wrong desires that once bound and imprisoned the immoral one. The life is changed by a process of repentant prayer, and following reconstruction of conduct. The errant preacher must rectify bad conduct, wrong attitude, by repentant prayers to God. It humbles one, and makes one feel totally unworthy of a preaching ministry, but one is totally unworthy of such, if they do not repent.
James 5:15-16 (KJV)
And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise h up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
When ‘righteousness’ is restored, confession of sins has humbled the immoral preacher, the then righteous one finds that their prayers avail much and their ministry. Their preaching can be fruitful as never before. True praying to God results in true righteousness. Prayer changes one’s conduct and ones conversation. The ‘righteousness’ makes it possible for the anointing to come once again.
The book that Ezra preached from, while standing on that pulpit of wood, was likely the same original book written down by Moses. It was about 1175 years since Moses wrote it, and had been carefully protected through the years. The awesome feeling must have overwhelmed Ezra as he read from that original book. He preached from that Book. We don’t have that original copy, but we have many more books in our edition. It has been added to over the centuries. The Holy Spirit is now able to fill us, anoint us, and train us in the Word. We preach sermons with our texts and lessons from the awesome Bible. What a privilege that is too great to comprehend.
In the sermons, the preachers is told to ‘rightly divide the Word of truth.’
II Timothy 2:15-16
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings, for they will increase unto more ungodliness.”
There are two groupings here for the ‘words’. There are some that are the ‘word of truth’, and there are ‘profane and vain babblings.’ How does a preacher ‘rightly divide’ not only the difference between the two, but also in the midst of each one, how do we define difference of kinds. There are many kinds of ‘words of truth’. There are many kinds of ‘profane and vain babblings.’
The word for ‘divide’ in that passage, is ‘orthotomeo’. It means to deal with a thing by cutting and dividing it, to discern its composition and purpose. The Word of Truth is composed of the purpose and teachings of God. We need to determine God’s purpose and method of accomplishing that purpose of each word.
The profane and vain babblings of false ones needs to be cut and dissected, dividing leaven from the lump, cutting truth from error, and determining the source as from God or from other spirits, evil or human.
The word ‘profane’ is the Greek ‘bebelos’ meaning to ‘go over a threshold without authorization.’ It refers to some who speak words, claiming them to be ‘godly’ or from God. If these words do not reflect God’s truth and are not sourced from God, they are profane.
I Timothy 6:20.
“O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called.’
The word ‘science’ is the word ‘gnosis’, and refers to more than ‘science’ as thought of today. It refers to all kinds of ‘knowledge’. There are many claiming knowledge of Scripture, of spiritual truths, of revelations. Some are calling there messages to be ‘knowledge’ and truth, and they are ‘falsely’ claiming that.
Timothy was a young man. He was often tempted to listen to what others were calling knowledge, but some of it was ‘false’, some was ‘profane’ and not sourced from God at all, and some were ‘vain babblings’ and were therefore worthless discussion.
Paul stressed to Timothy to ‘shun’ those things, in both epistles written to him. Today, we need to begin before that even. Some have no idea that there are profane, vain, and knowledge falsely so called. They do not attempt to shun any, they let their ears and hearts feast on the profane, vain, and false. It is time to determine the worth, the source and the purpose of words we hear.
If we do not, we should be ‘ashamed’. If we ‘rightly divide’ the word of truth, and shun what does not qualify to be called the ‘word of truth’, then we will not need to be ashamed before our God.