The Warrior Preacher
In this article Peter Reynolds, retired Minister, helps us think about what it means to be a warrior preacher.
In New Zealand we have the very difficult task of bringing the Gospel of grace to a cynical and unbelieving society. Perhaps only 1% of the New Zealand’s population is evangelical, making the reformed community a fraction of one percent. So, it feels like a warriors’ task to bring Christ’s Gospel into that setting. It feels like spiritual warfare.
One way to view the gospel preacher is as a messenger from God, coming with a drawn sword to do battle on God’s behalf, not unlike the angels who always stand ready to act as God’s warrior messengers (Matt 26:53). Preachers come in the name of the heavenly Divine Warrior who himself comes with drawn sword (Jos 5:13-125) as the battle commander, directing his preachers where he wills in the fight against Satan and unbelief.
As warrior-preachers it is helpful to see our spiritual armor in this light. The sword of the Spirit, the Word of God (Eph 6:17), becomes the sword of offence when that Word is preached, as Paul made plain in his own application of fearless preaching (Eph 6:19-20). Here is the weapon of the warrior-preacher. The preached Word of God has the effect of a double-edged sword, penetrating the body and dividing its parts. This results in the listener is that their hearts are laid bare before God (Heb 5:12f). This is preaching that impacts the heart as the word does its convicting but gracious work of renewal.
But the picture is even more vivid. When the preacher draws his sword in preaching God comes with his sword drawn to engage the hearts of the listeners. And in the same instance Satan also comes to steal the word away from the hearts of the listeners. So, a cosmic battle is taking place when the Word of God is preached. The preacher is not alone as he fearlessly proclaims the truth in the face of unbelief. God is there to give his preached word power as he condescends to speak through the preacher.
This power can overcome even the strongest opposition (Cor 10:3-6) and is always present whenever Christ is preached. Christ is the Rock against which unbelief will stumble. Hence preachers can be fearless in their preaching of Christ. God’s Spirit will break through with power. As Martin Luther reminds us, “A little word will fell him (Satan)”. And that word is Christ, portrayed as crucified (Gal 3:1), and pressed down on the hearts and lives of those who listen. Jesus Christ, as he is revealed in the Gospel, is the message of the warrior-preacher.
This reminder is as sobering as it is thrilling. Preachers are ordinary men who are not resigned to their task, nor do they romantise about their task; rather they get on with proclaiming fearlessly a life changing message. In the face of criticism and opposition the preacher can answer, “Yes, I am only a pot – but I do have a great treasure”. Here is a wonderful encouragement for the warrior-preacher who takes his stand on stony ground, and from the margins of society speaks to the raging unbelief of his day. In doing so he is joining the ranks of those ancient warriors who have gone before engaged in an ancient war.