Some men who preach have been told they have the “gift of gab.” How many of us have spoken of preachers who are “gifted” at what they do? I think we understand the meaning of the word “gift” in that context. We essentially mean “ability.”
A phrase that has seemingly gotten increasing usage among some in the Lord’s church, as well as the larger religious world, is “the gift of preaching.” Recently, I heard a man pray prior to preaching, “Pour on me the gift of preaching.” Others refer to certain preachers as those upon whom the gift of preaching has obviously been bestowed. In many instances, those claiming such giftedness have proceeded to teach new and different doctrines from those clearly revealed in the New Testament. Yet, what is implied in describing their work in preaching in this way is designed to silence any criticism or objection to what they go on to promote.
If they are directly endowed with a spiritual gift by the Holy Spirit, as we see referenced in the discussion in 1 Corinthians 12-14, then aren’t we fighting God if we disagree with their message?
There is no denying that some have a knack, an ability, an inclination, and an aptitude for various areas of service in the Lord’s kingdom. Sadly, some, like the one talent man, have buried their abilities to contribute to the growth and development of the church. Again, every one has a part to play in the body (cf. Eph. 4:16). This is a far cry from a divine bestowal that, in turn, suggests the Holy Spirit is directly giving the speaker his message.
When the inspired apostle Paul was preaching to the Bereans, they opened their Bibles to check the accuracy of his message (Acts 17:11). When John urges the Christians to “test the spirits” (1 Jn. 4:1), it is in the context of the one who “keeps His commandments” (3:24). It is a warning connected to the reality that “many false prophets have gone out into the world.” So, a man claims a passage to teach “A.” How do we know it actually teaches “A”? Because he has the “gift of preaching”? No, we examine the passage, and we examine the claim in light of the passage. If there is a conflict, what do we follow? The passage or the claim?
The point is this. To hide behind the claim of a divine endowment of “the gift of preaching” is at least misleading, if not disingenuous. The preacher must submit himself to the process of proper interpretation, fertilize the process with much prayer, and then set about to faithfully proclaim what scripture says. That is how one properly uses his gifts to preach. Be aware of lofty claims that God is pouring His message into their heart through some direct operation. Often, what such preachers say is at odds with revealed truth. Truth always trumps testimony!