Many highly educated and multi-talented preachers are guilty of preaching above the ability of their audience to comprehend what they have said. In fact, to fully understand them would require each member to be as educated as the one instructing them. Instead of enlightening their audience, they are confusing them. Instead of aiding their growth in the faith, they are killing their progression.
These men have at times caused confusion and strife by their preaching and when questioned about their teaching they usually reply, “You just don’t understand what I am saying.” Again, the implication is that any problem that may exist is due to the lack of knowledge or ability on the part of the hearer to comprehend the “deep” things taught by the preacher.
The apostle Paul said that he wrote the things revealed to him by the Holy Spirit so that “when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ” (Eph. 3:4). One of the characteristics of faithful gospel preachers through the years has been their ability to present the truth of the gospel in a way that made it easily understood by those who heard. If these men who fancy themselves as being such “in depth” students of the word really have the knowledge and ability they want us to believe they have, then why don’t they just teach what they believe to be the truth in a simple understandable manner. If we are misunderstanding what they are teaching then we plead with them to use their “superior” ability and present their teaching so that we “inferiors” can understand. The gospel of Christ remains the same today as when first preached on the day of Pentecost. When someone has to preach something that has never been preached before or preach it in a way no one else has ever preached it we had better beware.
I certainly do not want to discourage any study of God’s word nor do I condone those who become satisfied with “the way we have always done things” and will not change even when change is necessary to conform to God’s word. However, I do not approve of those who seem more concerned with impressing men with their educational level rather than helping men understand the plain and simple teachings of God’s word. All preachers need to ask themselves the same question Paul asked in his epistle to the Galatians; “For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men?” (Gal. 1:10). Paul said, “If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.”
I firmly believe that the two greatest compliments that could be paid to one preaching are: (1) He preaches the truth and (2) He presents it in such a way that ALL can understand. When we become more concerned with “making an impression” than we are with “preaching the word” we are making a grave mistake. Our concern must always be the salvation of souls and not self-glorification. If the gospel is preached, souls will be saved and God will be glorified. Don’t be intimidated by those who try to make you feel inferior in your ability to understand truth.
When elders and deacons are left scratching their head as to what the preacher just said, that preacher is not instructing anyone other than himself. In fact, that preacher just as well be speaking in an unknown language than to speak large words that few can understand. As the apostle Paul said, “Yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue” (1 Cor 14:19). Preachers, if you are called to preach, PREACH PLAINLY or NOT AT ALL!