We Need Fiery Preaching Again to Awaken America

By Shane Idleman Published on November 27, 2023

And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. (Rev. 11:5)

As I was teaching in Revelation, the verse above reminded me of what we desperately need today — fire!

Words of Fire Devour, Purify and Heal

Commentaries are divided on whether it’s actual fire coming out the witnesses’ mouths in this passage above, or if their words are on fire, as seen in Jeremiah 5:14, “I will make My words in thy mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them.”

The fire of God’s Word purifies, reveals, consumes, and devours sin all in the hopes of healing the listeners by leading them to repentance. 

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Thank God for grace and mercy, but we have drifted dangerously close to the edge. This drift rejects obedience as legalistic, repentance as passé, and judgment as old school. The very things we need are the very things we are running from.

We Need the Fire of Jeremiah Again

We’ve created a generation that seeks teachers who tickle ears rather than challenge hearts. (2 Tim. 4:3) These teachers know nothing of the calling of Jeremiah, in which God’s Word was like a fire and like a hammer that shatters a rock (23:29). Instead, they prophesy smooth things and encourage sin, and the people love to have it so (Is. 30:10).

To see real change, we need our pulpits aflame with righteousness and tongues of fire again: “A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God” (Robert Murray McCheyne).

Wield it or Lose it

There will be a cost to pay: The world enjoys the pleasantries of Scripture, but set your words ablaze with the fire of God and even friends will become enemies.

Life-giving preaching costs the preacher much — death to self, crucifixion to the world, the travail of his own soul. Crucified preaching can come only from a crucified man. (E.M. Bounds)

We must repent of apathy and cowardliness, and ask for a fresh filling of God’s fire! Truth is a spiritual sword that cuts deep into the depravity of the heart. It must be wielded with courage, fire, and resolve.

The Pew Has Power Too

For those in the pew, instead of sitting on the sidelines not wanting to offend: What if we actually went to school board meetings and spoke the truth in love, but also with fire, and watched it consume sinful agendas? 

What if we ran for office and asked God to use us in powerful and profound ways? 

What if we posted things on social media exposing the unfruitful works of darkness in a spirit of humility, rather than remaining silent because of fear? Silence speaks volumes and quenches the fire of the Spirit. 

A Blast From the Past

It was said of Justin Martyr, who was brutally killed in 165 AD because he was unwilling to worship false gods, that the fire that burned in him was greater than the persecution that befell him. 

How was an ordinary man named Savonarola (1452–1498) able to set Italy ablaze with conviction? Historians say that Savonarola’s fiery preaching was the reason. He was finally burned at the stake for it. 

And what about the “Thundering Scot” John Knox? It was said that “the voice of this one man is able in one hour to put more life in us than five hundred trumpets blustering in our ears.” At his graveside, they said: “Here lies one who neither flattered nor feared any flesh.”

Fire begins with prayer, is fueled by worship and is sustained by obedience. 

We need to return to the old paths: “Where are yesterday’s altars of prayer? Where are the saints that love to linger in His presence? The weeping, the crying, the interceding for lost souls? The church needs to wake up!” (Gene Easley)

Where are They Today? 

Years ago, I threw out this challenge to the congregation I pastor, and I want to encourage you with it as well: 

  • Where are the Isaiahs and Jeremiahs calling nations to repentance? 
  • Where are the Peters and Pauls who spoke with such authority that martyrdom did not silence them? Though they are dead, they still speak! 
  • Where are the Tyndales and Husses who were burned at the stake for simply declaring the truth? 
  • Where are the Whitefields who shook continents?
  • Where are the Wycliffes who stood so unyielding for the truth that he was called The Morning Star of Reformation?  

I say again, “Where are they?” 

  • Where are the John Wesleys who said, “Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and we will shake the gates of hell?” 
  • Where are the David Brainerds who spent so much time in prayer that even the great Jonathan Edwards was convicted? 
  • Where are the Spurgeons, who spoke with such authority that his sermons are read more today than ever before? 
  • Where are the D.L. Moodys who brought America to her knees? 
  • Where are the Puritans like Richard Baxter, who said with such humility, “I speak as a dying man to dying men”?

Our prayer in these trying times must be, “Oh, Lord, we need fire again, and begin in me!”

To hear the sermon where this article originated, click here.

 

Shane Idleman is the founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship in Southern California and the creator of the WCF Radio Network. His program, Regaining Lost Ground, points us back to God and reminds us that although times change, truth does not. His books, blogs, and sermons can all be found at ShaneIdleman.com.

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