It is not uncommon for persons encountering the public preaching of the word of God to ask, “Why are you doing this?” Such persons do not respond in this manner to someone shouting, “Car Wash,” “We Buy Gold,” or “Tickets, Get Your Tickets.” This evident bigotry in opposing only one form of public advertisement says more about the person lodging the complaint than it does about the activity.
It is not uncommon for those whining about public preaching to say something along the lines of “I am a Christian, and I do not think this is proper,” or “I know a lot of people who go to church, and they disagree with what you are doing.” Since such persons have no standard of right and wrong in their lives and refer only to majority opinion for their determination of what is acceptable, such hollow arguments carry the day.
Now, to answer the question as to why someone would proclaim the word of the Lord in a public place and do so loud enough to be heard, let us do something uniquely different and see what the Bible says about the matter.
1. Public preaching began in the garden eastward in Eden, when the Word preached outdoors to a man and a woman who did not want to hear it. In fact they hid themselves to avoid the preacher (Genesis 3).
2. Enoch preached publicly, and his message was 80% negative (Genesis 5; Jude 1:14-15).
3. Noah preached in public for decades, and his lack of response did not deter him (Genesis 6-8; 2 Peter 2:5).
4. Moses preached in the courtyards of Egypt to a people who worshipped false gods and goddesses (Exodus 4-12)
5. For forty years as the nation of Israel traveled to the land of Canaan, their worship services, sacrifices, and preaching were all done in public places (Leviticus-Deuteronomy).
6. The children of Israel stood outside the city of Jericho and shouted to the people standing upon its walls (Joshua 6).
7. Joshua preached to a disobedient nation who claimed to believe in God while clinging to their idols, in public (Joshua 24).
8. Gideon preached in public (Judges 6-7).
9. Samuel preached outdoors to a rebel crowd, and the result was the conversion of Saul.
10. David preached in public and led outdoor worship services (1 Chronicles 13, 2 Samuel 6).
It is not likely those who complain about public preaching are still reading, but if you are that rare soul with integrity, let me ask you, who are these church-attending people who say people should not preach in public? Makes you wonder if they ever turned off the TV long enough to read the Bible, doesn’t it?
11. Solomon preaches outdoors, when there was a house of worship just a few yards away (2 Chronicles 6).
12. Elijah preaches in public, telling the crowds that their ministers are corrupt, and their religion false (1 Kings 18).
13. Elisha follows suit (2 Kings 4).
14. Shemaiah, Abijah, Azariah, Michaiah, Jehu, Jehoshaphat, Jahaziel, Zechariah, Ezra, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Jonah, Habakkuk, et. al. Every prophet in the Old Testament preached the word of the Lord in public places to people who did not want to hear it (2 Chronicles – Malachi).
15. John the Baptist never preached in a synagogue or house of worship – always outdoors where people were gathered.
16. Jesus Christ preached the majority of His sermons outdoors. And if it was all lovey dovey fluff and nonsense, why did multitudes hate him and eventually demand His crucifixion?
17. All the apostles and disciples of Jesus preached in public places. This was their pattern in Israel, Greece, Rome, throughout Asia and Europe, etc.
To say that public preaching is somehow not a Biblical or Christian practice is to display massive ignorance of the plain truth of the matter. One could say they do not like it, and they would be consistent with historical fact. Atheists, idolaters, pagans, satanists, adulterers, drunkards, murderers, molesters, et. al. have never enjoyed having a light shined upon their darkness (John 3:19-21), but that does not make something non-Christian. This is evident to the thoughtful individual.
18. A converted Jew (John 9), a converted Gentile (John 4), a converted devil-worshipper (Mark 5), and a converted religious leader (Acts 9) all preached in public.
19. Peter, Stephen, James, John, Paul, Silas, Barnabas, Thomas, etc., that is, every apostle and disciple mentioned in the church history book of Acts preached the word outdoors to people who were going about their business.
Contrary to the false reports circulated by the unlearned and bigoted in our day, to keep Christianity in the church and not make it known in the public forum is the non-scriptural position.
20. Should you have made it this far, you are now challenged to read this partial list of Biblical commands / instructions to preach the truth of God’s word in public places. In case you are not going to look them up, the partial list contains nearly 100 scripture references.
So before you read or ignore the list below, to both objections: “Why are you doing this?” Because it is and has always been the right thing to do. “I’m a Christian, and I disagree.” We choose to obey God’s truth not your falsehood.
The Partial List (in Addition to the References Cited Above)
1 Kings 8
1 Kings 13
2 Chronicles 1-8
2 Chronicles 13
2 Chronicles 15
2 Chronicles 18
2 Chronicles 28-29
If you even glanced at this list of places where God’s people preached in public, you are asked to send just one passage in the Bible where the practice is forbidden.
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved (Acts 16:31). Neither is there salvation in any other (Acts 4:12)
James W. Knox