- Preaching the Gospel
- The People’s Responsibility (Ephesians 6:19a)
- The Pastor’s Responsibility (Ephesians 6:19b-20)
- A. Preach the Word
- B. Preach Boldly
- C. Preach the Gospel
- D. Preach Wherever
I used to work with a former Marine, and he looked the part. He was big and muscular. He had battle scars and the stories to go with them. He and I were talking the other day, and he said that he hopes that when we get to heaven, we can go out and fight the forces of darkness. He wants to battle demons.
I don’t think we’ll be doing that in the Kingdom, but guess what….we are doing that now. You can’t see them, hear them, or feel them physically, but you have enemies all around you who are trying to injure you, hurt you, and drag you down.
That is why it is so important to know about spiritual warfare, and what God has given to us for defense, and what our marching orders are. As we have seen previously, the armor that God has given to us is all defensive…even the sword for the most part. This is because all we’re supposed to do is stand in the victory that we have in Christ.
But there are two weapons God has given us to engage the enemy. The first is prayer which Paul wrote about in 6:18. It is our secret weapon. It is how we call down air support from heaven. It is how we draw on the infinite power of God to help us when we are under attack. The power of prayer is one of the greatest weapons God has given to us against the enemy, yet too many of us neglect it in our lives.
But there is another weapon God has given to us, and this weapon is two-pronged. It serves to strengthen our own soldiers in this battle, and serves to take forces away from the enemy and add them to our own forces.
Imagine if you were a soldier in Iraq, or part of this global war on terrorism, and you were given the mission of infiltrating Al Qaeda, and persuading some of them to leave Al Qaeda to fight on the side of America, and fight against Al Qaeda instead. Can you imagine how difficult this would be? Can you imagine how scary, but also how thrilling it would be to be on the inside of the Al Qaeda terrorist organization, trying to get terrorists to defect and begin fighting on our side instead?
Yet this is what we learn about in Ephesians 6:19-20. God has called certain people to this very task, but in a spiritual war, not a physical one.
There are only two sides in this war, and Jesus said in Mark 9:40 that whoever is not for us is against us. Therefore, whoever is not on the side of Jesus is on the side of Satan. In other words, only believers are on God’s side, and everyone else is on Satan’s side.
But God has given us a way to help people leave Satan’s side, and join our side. God has given us a way to free people from their bondage to Satan, and bring them into freedom in Christ. This is something we want to do, because the more people we have on our side, the less Satan has on his. And though Satan has already lost the war, he still wants to do as much damage as possible to us, and even to the people who are fighting for him. So we must rescue as many as we can.
And God has given us a weapon to do this. What is this weapon? It is the preaching and teaching of the Scriptures, and specifically, the Gospel.
I. The People’s Responsibility (Ephesians 6:19a)
Ephesians 6:19a. …and [pray] for me,
You must pray for your pastor. Pastor’s, as the spiritual leaders in the church, frequently come under much greater spiritual attack than the rest of Christians. Satan knows that if he can get a pastor to fall into sin, he can keep people away from church, and ruin the reputation of Christians among unbelievers, and sometimes even destroy that church.
We hear so many reports of pastor who have fallen into sin, sexual sin where they run off with their secretary, financial sin where they steal funds from the church, sins of addiction where they become enslaved to drugs and alcohol. A large part of this is that the pastor made some bad decisions, and thought he wouldn’t get caught.
But another side to the failure of so many pastors is that pastors are undergoing incredible amounts of spiritual attack, and the people of their church are not lifting and supporting their pastor in prayer as they should be. In spiritual warfare, pastors and preachers of the Word need the prayer support of the people in their churches.
Now in the context, Paul has one thing in mind which he wants prayer for, and it is for boldness in preaching of the Word, and specifically, preaching the Gospel. The people of the church must be praying for their pastor to preach the Gospel clearly, and accurately, and boldly. Why? So that the church can grow, both in numbers and in maturity.
It is through the preaching of the Word that people are saved, and it is through the preaching of the Word that the saved are strengthened. Satan knows the power of preaching, and so he does everything he can to stop pastors from preaching. He will get churches to cut the sermon out of their service in favor of drama or more music. Satan will get churches to tell the pastor that people don’t want to hear the Bible taught any more, and so if he could just tell them a bunch of stories, that would be better.
But preaching is warfare activity, and when we let go of preaching, we are losing a battle to Satan. So, the church must pray that their pastor preaches the Word, and preaches it accurately, and preaches it boldly.
Charles Spurgeon is considered to be one of the most eloquent and bold preachers who ever lived. He lived in the nineteenth century, and all of his sermons were drawn from Scripture. He preached so well, they called him the prince of preachers.
At that time, five young college students were spending a Sunday in London, so they went to hear the famous C.H. Spurgeon preach. While waiting for the church doors to open, the students were greeted by a man who asked, “Gentlemen, let me show you around. Would you like to see the heating plant of this church?”
They were not particularly interested, for it was a hot day in July, but they did not want to offend the stranger, so they consented. The young men were taken down a stairway. A door was quietly opened, and their guide whispered, “This is our heating plant.”
Inside, the students saw 700 people bowed in prayer, seeking a blessing on the service that was soon to begin in the auditorium above. Softly, the gentleman then introduced himself. It was none other than Charles Spurgeon himself.
Spurgeon always credited his success to his praying church members. He was able to wield the Sword of the Spirit with boldness, clarity, and accuracy because the people of his church prayed constantly for him.
Years later he declared, “Among all the formative influences that go to make up a man honored of God in the ministry, I know of none more mighty than the intercession of his parishioners. Without it, he will most likely be a failure!” Spurgeon proved the worth of that kind of prayer.
Someone else once said that “There will be more Power in the pulpit when there is more Prayer in the pew.”
Now, if it is the people’s responsibility to pray for their pastor to preach, it is the pastor’s responsibility to not let them down, and do his best to preach.
II. The Pastor’s Responsibility (Ephesians 6:19b-20)
A. Preach the Word
Ephesians 6:19b. …that utterance may be given to me,
This word utterance that is used here is actually the word “word.” In Greek it is the word logos. And it is singular, not plural, so could be translated “a word” or even “the word.” When Paul preaches, he first and foremost wants to speak a word from God.
If a pastor gets up to preach, and he doesn’t bring a word from God, his words are no better than anybody else’s words, and you shouldn’t listen to him. How high are God’s words above man’s words? God’s word is infinitely higher. And so if a pastor says that people can’t handle the Word, that is a man you don’t have to listen to because he has nothing to say.
The only thing worth preaching and listening to is the Word of God.
One of my favorite articles on this subject is called “The Pastor and Preaching.” We don’t know who wrote it, for he neglected to sign his name to it. But in the article he writes this:
Burn his eyes with weary study. Wreck his emotional poise with worry for God. And make him exchange his pious stance for a humble walk with God and man. Make him spend and be spent for the glory of God. Rip out his telephone. Burn up his ecclesiastical success sheets.
Put water in his gas tank. Give him a Bible and tie him to the pulpit. And make him preach the Word of the living God!
Test him. Quiz him. Examine him. Humiliate him for his ignorance of things divine. Shame him for his good comprehension of finances, batting averages, and political in-fighting. Laugh at his frustrated effort to play psychiatrist. Form a choir and raise a chant and haunt him with it night and day – “Sir, we would see Jesus.”
When at long last he dares assay the pulpit, ask him if he has a word from God. If he does not, then dismiss him. Tell him you can read the morning paper and digest the television commentaries, and think through the day’s superficial problems, and manage the community’s weary drives, and bless the sordid baked potatoes and green beans, ad infinitum, better than he can.
Command him not to come back until he’s read and reread, written and rewritten, until he can stand up, worn and forlorn, and say, “Thus saith the Lord.”
Break him across the board of his ill-gotten popularity. Smack him hard with his own prestige. Corner him with questions about God. Cover him with demands for celestial wisdom. And give him no escape until he’s back against the wall of the Word.
And sit down before him and listen to the only word he has left – God’s Word. Let him be totally ignorant of the down-street gossip, but give him a chapter and order him to walk around it, camp on it, sup with it, and come at last to speak it backward and forward, until all he says about it rings with the truth of eternity. 
Paul wants to preach the Word, and nothing but the Word, and so should any pastor who attempts to lead a church today. If we are not preaching the Word, we might as well sit down and be quiet, for we have nothing of substance to say.
But beyond preaching the Word, Paul also wants to preach boldly.
A. Preach Boldly
Ephesians 6:19c. …that I may open my mouth boldly
In Acts 4:29-31, we see the apostles pray for boldness in their preaching as well. God gave them boldness, and as a result, the church began to live as the church should.
It is very nerve wracking to preach boldly when you know that what you are going to say is not popular. And we live in a day and age when the preaching of the Word is not popular. People’s ears itch after so many other things than the Word of God. They want their ears to be tickled. They want church to be closer to a comedy social club than a house of instruction.
And if preaching the Word is unpopular among Christians, it is even more unpopular among non-Christians. To them, the Word of God is foolish. It is a bunch of stories and fairy tales, and calls to trust in a God they cannot see for things they are not really sure they want.
It is for this reason, and many others, that Paul desires to preach boldly, and so asks that the Ephesians Christians pray for him to preach boldly.
The most amazing thing about this is that if anyone was a bold preacher, it was Paul. When you read his sermons in Acts, and the hostile crowds he faced, and how he took on angry Judaizers, lynch mobs, Greek philosophers, and Roman authorities, all with boldness and clarity. We look at that and think, “Why does he want them to pray for more boldness? He is already bold.”
That’s one way to look at it. But more likely, he recognizes that he is bold because people are praying for him. He knows that if people stop praying for him to be bold in his preaching, he will lost that edge, and that ability to trust God and say what needs to be said.
Paul wants to be bold in his preaching, and request that people pray for him to be bold when he preaches the Word. Now the reason
B. Preach the Gospel
Ephesians 6:19d. …to make known the mystery of the gospel,
This is crucial. In this passage on spiritual warfare, the gospel is crucial to understand, and it is critical to know why Paul focused on preaching the Gospel.
When we preach and teach about how Jesus came to earth, and how He lived a sinless life, and how He died on the cross for our sins, and rose again the third day, and is seated now at the right hand of God the Father in heaven, and will come again one day to judge the living and the dead—when we preach these truths, it is a rallying cry for us, that Jesus Christ has defeated sin, death, and Satan.
But aside from that, when we preach these truths, it is a reminder to our enemy the devil, that he has lost this war. He is a defeated foe. He has no power over us. We are on the winning side. We are champions over him.
So not only is the Gospel and encouragement to us, and a reminder to Satan of his defeat, but preaching the Gospel is also how we persuade unbelievers to believe in Jesus for everlasting life. Every time a person believes in Jesus for everlasting life, they leave Satan’s kingdom of darkness, and are transferred into Jesus’ kingdom of light. Every person that believes in Jesus is another blow to Satan, and another victory for Jesus Christ.
This is why preaching the Word, and especially, preaching the Gospel, is warfare activity. It is how we advance the front line against our already defeated foe.
So this is why people should pray for their pastors: so that they will preach the Word, and preach it boldly, and especially preach the gospel so that the Kingdom of God can advance and grow as people hear the Gospel and believe in Jesus for everlasting life. This is why we must make the most of every opportunity, and preach wherever, whenever, and to whomever we can.
C. Preach Wherever
Ephesians 6:20. …for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
When Paul is writing this, he is writing from prison. He is chained between two strong Roman guards. The reason he is in prison is because he was preaching the Gospel boldly.
Most people in that situation would say, “Paul, look where your bold preaching has gotten you. You are chained up in prison. If you would just tone it down a bit, maybe you could get out. You can have greater effectiveness out of prison than you can in. You could preach to so many more people if you were free.”
But Paul doesn’t see it that way. He recognizes that he is in prison because he was preaching boldly, but he doesn’t think that the gospel should be preached in a weak way. It is the power of salvation, and should be proclaimed with power, conviction, passion, and boldness.
So he doesn’t see these two guards on either side of him as a hindrance to his preaching. Instead, he probably just preached away at them, and they couldn’t go anywhere. He literally had a captive audience. And even couple hours, new guards would come in, and Paul would begin again with the new guards.
And these weren’t any old guards. These were imperial guards. Paul recognized that he had an opportunity to preach to some men who would probably never hear the Gospel in any other way, and these men had areas of influence and power that most people in the Roman Empire didn’t have.
So in verse 19, when Paul mentions his chains, he says he is an ambassador in chains. He is a prisoner for Christ, and is doing everything he can to continue to proclaim the Gospel, even when he is in prison.
All of us also need to adopt such a perspective. We think, “If only I had the opportunity to teach a bigger group, then I would prepare better, and teach with more conviction. But if it’s only five or six, why bother?”
Paul doesn’t care if it’s two or two thousand, he is going to preach with accuracy, and boldness because he knows that every person that comes his way has been sent by God.
We are in a battle for our lives and for the lives of those who are not yet saved. The Spiritual armor Paul writes about in verses 10-17 is given to us for our personal protection against the enemy. Our secret weapon is prayer. But it is through preaching that we get our marching orders, it is through preaching that the lost world hears the gospel so they can be transferred from the side of the enemy and join our side, the side of our victorious Jesus Christ.
So pray for those who teach and preach the Word. Pray that God will give them understanding of His Word to teach it boldly and accurately. Pray that the Gospel will be spread and people will believe in Jesus for everlasting life.
A day is coming when this war will finally be over, and we will stand before Jesus, our General, and He will hand out metals and rewards for how well we have stood and fought for Him. On that day, I hope you and I will hear Him say, “Well done. You have fought well.” In order to hear that, you will need to have your armor on, and you will need to be in prayer, especially that the gospel will be spread.
 Cited in John MacArthur, Rediscovering Expository Preaching (Dallas: Word, 1992), 348.