KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–Be “men of God” by staying true to preaching the Bible, evangelist Bill Stafford told his seminary audience.
A preacher’s accountability is not to men but to God when ministering his Word, said Stafford, of Chattanooga, Tenn., an evangelist for more than 30 years.
“The greatest thing that can happen in your life is to live in the awesome awareness that you do not have to answer to anybody, but you only have to be answerable and accountable to a holy God,” Stafford preached in a message from 2 Timothy 4:2-5 at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, Mo.
Those who do not have an appetite for the Bible and for the preaching of it might not be born again, Stafford stated.
“Appetite comes with birth,” the evangelist emphatically told the April 6 chapel audience. “When I got saved, I received an appetite for God. I received a hunger to know him and walk with him. The only people who don’t love the Bible and the preaching of the Word are those that have no appetite because they have no birth.”
Preach God’s Word accurately and with excitement, Stafford exhorted. Pastors are preaching the King’s message, just as a town crier would announce a message from a king, he continued.
“This is the King’s message,” Stafford shouted about the Bible. “This is the infallible, inerrant Word of God. What good is that if all I’ve got is intellectual truth that doesn’t get to my heart and exalts out of me? I can’t get over that I’m preaching the King’s message.”
His emphasis on emotionalism, Stafford noted, is on an encounter with Jesus through Scripture and not just through charismatic experience.
“I’m talking about an honest obsession where Jesus overwhelms you with the Word,” Stafford said, “and so overwhelms you that when you preach, it just comes out not just as expository truth, but as truth, to the glory of God.”
The most pressing issue in Southern Baptist circles today is not inerrancy, Stafford observed. “The battle is extra-biblical revelation.”
He illustrated this by recounting a conversation he had with a Southern Baptist pastor who was using the manifestations of tongues, holy laughter and slaying in the spirit in his revival crusades. Stafford asked the preacher to show him the scriptural basis for such teachings.
“Here comes the statement he said that shook me,” Stafford said. “‘When God speaks to me, if it’s not in the Bible, it is still the Word of God.'”
Avoid any teaching that lacks scriptural backing, Stafford counseled. “I’m bound by the Word of God,” he said. “If God didn’t say it, its garbage.”
Rebellion against authority, Stafford said, is the reason for the surge in interest in extra-biblical revelation in various churches.
“This is a nation in rebellion against authority. So when it comes to the Word of God, they aren’t going to listen to you preach. Why? Because they are not going to bow to anything. They are not going to get saved until they bow to his authority.”
Allow the power of God, from a correct understanding of Scripture, to empower preaching, Stafford urged.
“Students, God’s not going to use you because you’re smart. He will use you if you love him supremely, are consumed with his Word, preach from the overflow, and can’t wait for people to hear about Jesus, and how he overwhelmed you.”