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Commission, communion and commitment essential to preaching, says Hamblin

NEW ORLEANS (BP)–Effective biblical preaching involves a commission, communion with God, and a commitment to His message. The messenger who fails to realize this fails to deliver a true message of God to the people.

“Preaching is the God-called person, going into the presence of God, finding out what God wants said and saying it,” said Bob Hamblin during the V. L. Stanfield Lectures at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary September 17-19.

The lecture series was established in memory of former NOBTS preaching professor V. L. Stanfield, who once said “preaching is giving the Bible a voice.” Each year the event focuses on the crucial task of biblical preaching.

Hamblin began preaching 56 years ago when he was only 17 years old. During his ministry he has pastored churches across the South, served at the Home Mission Board and taught evangelism at NOBTS.

The former professor began the series by relating the story of his first two opportunities to preach. Only a few weeks after surrendering to the ministry, he was asked to preach in his home church.

While preparing his first sermon, Hamblin said he only had his Bible and God as his guide. His preparation time was spent in a secluded place praying and seeking a message from God.

That first sermon went well. God moved, and two people were saved.

When Hamblin was asked to preach again, he tried a different approach. Instead of spending that time asking God for a message, he bought a book of sermons and memorized one he liked.

By the time he reached the pulpit, he had forgotten the sermon. After giving only a few brief remarks, he closed the service. God did not move in that service, and no decisions were made.

Those experiences began shaping Hamblin’s philosophy and definition of preaching. He realized where the power was. “Preaching is the God-called person going into the presence of God, finding out what God wants said and saying it,” he defined.

Speaking on the calling of ministers, Hamblin read from Romans 1:1-6. The Apostle Paul’s greeting in this letter tells a great deal about his call, he said.

He noted that Paul was called to a person, as well as a cause. He was called to the person of Jesus Christ and the cause of the “good news.”

Hamblin referred to the calling of Paul as a “personal revolution.” Paul had been actively persecuting the Christian church, but everything about him would change after his encounter with Christ. He was completely transformed by the call.

“God has the power to save anyone,” he told the seminarians. “Paul was called to share that power and so are you. God has divine power He wants to pour into your life.”

True preaching only happens when one called by God delivers a message from God, he continued. This can only happen when the minister spends time in the presence of God.

“Just to know you have a call from the Lord is not enough,” Hamblin stated. “If we are going to preach God’s Word, we must go into the presence of God and find out what He wants us to say.”

He pointed out the story of and the events surrounding the Transfiguration recorded in Matthew 17. In that story, Jesus went up into the mountains to seek a message from the Father, taking Peter, James and John along with Him.

While Jesus spent a personal time with the Father, the eager disciples attempted and failed to heal a boy with an evil spirit. Upon his return, Jesus healed the boy.

They were God-called men, but they had not taken the necessary time, like Jesus did, to be in the presence of God that day, Hamblin explained.

“Paul also commanded us to be filled with the Holy Spirit, to be completely with the presence and the power of God,” Hamblin stated, explaining that with salvation comes union with Christ. “Though I’m in union with Christ…I am powerless without his presence,” he said.

“Can you preach anywhere at any time in the power of the Lord Jesus Christ, can you witness to souls on the streets of New Orleans?” he asked. “You can if God is present in your life, if you are walking in fellowship with Him.”

Confusion, disappointment and ineffective churches result when ministers preach and teach without a Word from God, Hamblin said. A preacher can only be successful though God’s sustaining power and presence.

“There are going to be people who will sit in your congregation whose hearts are saying, ‘Is there any answer to my need?'” he said. “You’re not smart enough to give them the answers to their needs. They need God’s answer.”

Many things keep Christians from experiencing the presence of God on a daily basis. Pride is the main reason preachers fail to seek the presence of God, Hamblin said. Confession is always the way to come into God’s presence. He stated that the formula of confession that truly deals with sin is to “admit it, submit it, commit it and quit it.”

To close out the series, Hamblin focused on the last portion of his definition of preaching — delivering a message from God. This is where a calling and time with God result in a life-changing message, which intersects with the needs of the people.

“You preach Jesus, whom you’ve met face-to-face,” he said. “We have to share Jesus whom you have spent time with lately. We identify him, not because we’ve read about him, but because we know him. You have to preach Christ crucified and Christ resurrected.”

The goal of preaching is to share the wisdom of God, not human philosophies. Preachers often stray from the Bible because they do not want to be boring, Hamblin said. He added that the surest way to keep from preaching a boring sermon is to preach the Word of God through the power of the Holy Spirit.

“It is not what Hamblin says, it is not what some book says. I want to know what God says,” he said. “The breath of God is in the Bible, so we go there to get a message from God.”

Steven Echols, associate professor of leadership at NOBTS, was a student of both V. L. Stanfield and Bob Hamblin. In his introductory remarks at one of the sessions, he shared his personal memories of both men.

Stanfield was a skilled preacher and academic as well as a professor with a deep love and warmth for his students, he said. During Echols’ days as a student, Hamblin had a reputation throughout the seminary as a great preacher with a pastor’s heart.

“I think it’s very appropriate that we are blessed during the V. L. Stanfield Lectures to have one such as Dr. Bob Hamblin,” Echols said. “He has had the same type of impact that Dr. Stanfield had on so many of us.”
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: DISCUSSING TRUE PREACHING.