“Behold, on the mountains the feet of him who brings good tidings, who proclaims peace! O Judah, keep your appointed feasts, perform your vows. For the wicked one shall no more pass through you; He is utterly cut off.” (Nahum 1:15, NKJV)
Using language similar to an earlier prophet (Isaiah), Nahum announces the joy of Judah upon hearing the news of Nineveh’s overthrow. He pictures a messenger traversing the mountains to bring good news that the wicked enemy had been defeated and would no longer plague them. As the messenger proclaims peace, Judah is called to worship Jehovah free of the enemy’s oppression. Isaiah used these words to declare the coming of the Messiah (Isaiah 40:9; 52:7). In Romans 1:15 the apostle Paul used this figure to describe preaching the gospel. Like Isaiah and Nahum, the gospel contains both the message of salvation in Jesus Christ and the defeat of our enemies. Like the proclamation of Nineveh’s defeat, the gospel of Christ proclaims peace with God because our enemies, sin and death, are defeated (John 12:31-33). It is by preaching this good news that sinners hear, believe and call on the Lord for salvation (Romans 10:13-15; 1 Corinthians 1:21; Acts 2:36-41). With the oppression of sin removed in Christ, we now serve Him with the joy of salvation (Philippians 4:4-9).
1 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” 3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.’” (Matthew 3:1–3, NKJV)
John was preaching God’s message of repentance in the wilderness of Judea. People were coming out to hear him, confessing their sins and being baptized by him for the remission of sins (Matthew 3:3-6; Mark 1:4-5). In this way John was preparing the path for the Lord as He soon brought the gospel of the kingdom to Israel, then the nations. Have you ever felt like you were “preaching in the wilderness” while trying to persuade a friend, a companion, or a loved one to repent and follow the word of God? Keep on doing your work, and trust God to do His. Rely on the power of God’s gospel to convict and convert the lost (Romans 1:16-17). Preach it fully and faithfully, and it will accomplish the purpose for which God sent it, just like John’s message did (2 Timothy 4:1-5; Isaiah 55:10-11).
20 “O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge— 21 by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith. Grace be with you. Amen.” (1 Timothy 6:20–21, NKJV)
Timothy was Paul’s “true son in the faith” (1 Timothy 1:2). Paul charged this young evangelist with guarding the gospel that had been committed to his trust. Timothy would accomplish his task by turning away from base, empty chatter that contradicted the sound words of Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 6:3-5). This charge continues to ring true. We must distinguish between teachings that are “falsely called knowledge, and what is actually “the faith” (the gospel of Christ). God’s word is a symphony of harmonious truth, not a discordant accumulation of opinions and human wisdom that passes for knowledge. Therefore, God’s preacher must preach God’s word, not the speculations, opinions, and traditions of men that lead souls away from the faith. What message is being preached by the preacher to whom you listen; the faith, or that which contradicts the Bible? It matters. Following the faith keeps you in God’s grace. Following contradictions of God’s word leads you astray from the faith, putting your soul in peril.
26 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. 27 For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. (Acts 20:26–27, NKJV)
God holds preachers responsible for what they preach – and for what they do not preach. The apostle Paul was innocent of contributing to the sins of others because he was bold to declare to them all of God’s plans and intentions. He did not hold back anything through fear or favor of men. He did not hesitate or avoid announcing the messages his audiences needed to hear. Does your preacher declare “the whole counsel of God”? Or, does he refuse to address certain Bible subjects? Furthermore, do you want to hear everything God’s word teaches, even when it rebukes you of sin? Or, are there some Bible subjects you do not want the preacher to preach? Insist upon preaching that proclaims the whole counsel of God. Your soul, and the soul do your preacher, rests in the balance.
4 Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word. 5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. (Acts 8:4–5, NKJV)
Some say we should “preach Christ but not the church”. Others say, “preach the gospel but not doctrine”. Such man-made distinctions and divisions of God’s word do not exist in the Scriptures. To “preach Christ” is to preach “the word” that belongs to Christ. His word contains the apostolic doctrine (teaching) concerning who Jesus is and what He has done for mankind. It includes “things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ” and also baptism (Acts 8:12). When one claims to “preach Christ” be sure he preaches “the whole counsel of God” and not just bits and pieces of it (Acts 20:27).