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God empowers ‘inadequate’ men to preach the gospel, Gaines says

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Churches are suffering from a shortage of powerful, God-called preachers, said Steve Gaines, pastor of First Baptist Church, Gardendale, Ala.
“Where have all the preachers gone?” Gaines asked in an Aug. 31 message at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky. “Where are the people called by God — men of God, who preach the Word of God, under the power of God, for the glory of God?
“Where have all the preachers gone? You know if a pastor ought to be able to do anything, he ought to be able to preach.”
Gaines, named recently to the 15-member study committee of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Baptist Faith and Message confessional statement, asked “who will fill the shoes” of such “God-called” preachers as Herschel Hobbs, W.A. Criswell, Elijah, John the Baptist, Moses, Jonathan Edwards and Chuck Swindoll.
Preaching from Jeremiah 1:4-10, Gaines said true preachers should be “God-enlisted,” “God-empowered” and “God-employed.”
Jeremiah was “God-called, God-consecrated, God-commissioned,” Gaines said. “He was a preacher.”
Gaines said Jeremiah did not choose to be a preacher, but instead God chose Jeremiah.
“I believe that genuine preachers are called sovereignly and supernaturally to preach,” Gaines said. “If you have just signed up and God didn’t call you, you are in big trouble.”
Men can know if they are called to preach, Gaines said, because they can do nothing else. “If you can do anything else besides preach the gospel, then get at it, because you’re not called,” said Gaines, adding ministers should preach “under compulsion.”
Gaines centered on Jeremiah’s feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness as he discussed a pastor’s call. He said that preachers’ personal gifts and abilities are never adequate. Instead, their power comes from God. Gaines said Moses, Isaiah and Peter also felt incapable to fulfill their calling.
“When God called me to preach, I felt totally inadequate,” Gaines said.
“You know why? Because I was.”
Gaines said the Lord reassured Jeremiah and then touched his mouth. The Lord gave Jeremiah the words and anointed him.
“Where have all the preachers gone who preached with the anointing and power of Almighty God?” Gaines asked. “I’ll tell you how you know if you’re preaching with the power of God. When the people leave the service, they won’t be saying ‘My! What a preacher!’ They won’t even being saying, ‘My! What a choir!’ They won’t be saying, ‘My! What a building!’ They will be saying, ‘Hallelujah! What a Savior!’ That is the sign of the anointing and power of God.”
Gaines proceeded to point out that the ministry is not always comfortable. He said ministers are “employed by God” for two tasks: uprooting and planting.
“That’s the ministry, and if you’re going to be employed by God to be his messengers, then there are going to be times when you pluck up, break down, destroy, overthrow, before you can build and before you can plant,” Gaines said. “Jeremiah was a pioneer who cleared the path, but he was also a planter who nurtured the remnant of God’s people. He had the employment and task of not only uprooting, but planting. God always sends a warrior before he sends a builder.”
Gaines challenged students with examples from his personal ministry. A previous church he served “had been under moderate-to-liberal leadership” for 30 years. “And, I’m telling you that from the first day that I walked in the door, it was a time of plucking up, breaking down, destroying and overthrowing,” he said.
In contrast, at his current church in Gardendale, just north of Birmingham, he has been able to plant because others “cleared the path.” The church has increased in worship attendance from 1,600 to 3,000 under the leadership of Gaines. It also has had the highest number of baptisms among Alabama Baptists since 1995.
Encouraging students to be faithful with their ministries, Gaines said, “You’ll face strongholds of formalism, legalism, liberalism, traditionalism, but just stay in there, because God will soon let you build.”

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  • Laura Rector