Why I Can Learn From Simple Gospel Preachers

By Michael Brown Published on October 17, 2022

In the 1980s, my wife Nancy and I were sitting next to each other listening to a well-known Bible teacher. He said, “If people ask you if God is good, show them Nahum 1:7!”

The verse reads, “The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.” (Nahum 1:7) And it confirms the point the speaker was making: Some people portray God as angry and vengeful. Not true! He is good and only good.

I turned to Nancy and whispered, “Look at Nahum 1:6 and 8.”

Those verses, which sandwich verse 7, speak of God’s fiery wrath on His enemies. This is an aspect of the Lord’s goodness this speaker wanted to ignore.

Nancy looked at the verses with me and whispered, “It’s no fun sitting next to you.”

I can learn a lot from someone who understands and knows God, whether that person has multiple advanced degrees or whether he or she never made it through high school.

Another time, a guest preacher with a healing ministry was speaking at our home congregation.

At one point in his message, he said, “Turn to the person next to you, and say this Greek word with me.”

Nancy looked at me and I just smiled and shook my head. This dear brother had butchered the Greek.

Again, it wasn’t fun sitting next to me.

Always Encouraging: Testimonies, Fundamental Truths About God and the Gospel

Yet, the truth to be told, I can receive and learn from the simplest gospel preacher, provided that he majors on the majors and doesn’t drift outside of his lane.

Put another way, I can receive from him as he shares what he knows about God and the Word, the things he has lived through and experienced, the things He can affirm as a witness, the fundamental truths of the gospel.

He can build up my faith. He can challenge my dedication. He can call me to focus on Jesus. He can stir me to action.

But if he starts to speak about areas outside his areas of expertise, looking for esoteric meanings in the Hebrew or Greek, or espousing some bizarre theological point, he would lose my interest pretty quickly.

Experience With God Doesn’t Require a PhD

I’ve spent decades studying the Scriptures and working with the original languages, and some things are not open for debate. Consequently, when someone peddles the latest internet myth or relies on faulty sources to buttress an already questionable theory, I’ll check out and focus on something more profitable.

At the same time, I realize that not everything is a matter of intellect and formal education and that many of the saintliest and wisest people on the planet are not brainiacs. Yet they know God intimately, they have real insight into the Scriptures, and they have something to teach me.

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Jesus once said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.” (Matthew 11:25–26)

Sometimes the “wise” and the “smart” of this world are anything but wise and smart when it comes to understanding the Lord and His ways. Sometimes it is the children (and those with childlike faith) to whom God reveals Himself.

As Paul wrote to the fledgling congregation in Corinth, “For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:26–29)

“That He Understands and Knows Me”

Paul had in mind these words of the Lord spoken through Jeremiah the prophet: “Thus says the LORD: ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.’” (Jeremiah 9:23–24)

It’s one thing to know a lot about God. But do we know Him? Do we have a real, vibrant, experiential relationship with Him? Do we know what’s important to Him? Do we know what He values? What He loves? What He hates? Do we share His heart?

I can learn a lot from someone who understands and knows God, whether that person has multiple advanced degrees or whether he or she never made it through high school.

If they know God, if they walked with God, if they have years of proven service, they can teach me something.

If they are intimate with God in prayer, if they have stood strong under pressure, if they love and honor the Word, there is something they can impart to me.

These are the kind of people the Lord esteems. I want to esteem them too.

 

Dr. Michael Brown (www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is The Political Seduction of the Church: How Millions Of American Christians Have Confused Politics with the Gospel. Connect with him on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.

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