In The Holy War by John Bunyan we find that for Prince Emmanuel to take back the city of Mansoul, he will go through the same gates that Diabolus took advantage of. In the first part, there were a listing of four of the captains and their first lieutenants who were assigned to go after the gates. From the analogy that Bunyan uses, these four men were preachers who were specifically going to gain a foothold in the Ear Gate.
The first captain is Captain Boanerges along with aide, Mr. Thunder. They all wore black and the insignia on their uniforms was three lightning bolts. They led a company of ten thousand men. Obviously, Bunyan gets his word picture from the description of James and John who were referred to as the Sons of Thunder by the Lord. They were men who appealed to the authority aspect of ministry.
For Mansoul to be redeemed, the gates will have to be stormed with authority. This brings up the question as to where a preacher gets his authority. This is not the contrived and manipulative power that comes from spiritual abuse but rather it is an authority that confronts the issue of sin and points to the way of redemption. For this kind of authority to come to a preacher’s life there are some key components that will have to be incorporated.
Before going further, here are the words spoken by Captain Boanerges:
Be it known unto you, O unhappy and rebellious Mansoul, that the most gracious King, the great King Shaddai, my Master, hath sent me unto you with a commission (and so he showed to the town his broad seal) to reduce you to his obedience; and he hath commanded me, in case you yield upon my summons, to carry it to you as if you were my friends or brethren; but he also hath bid , that if, after the summons to submit, you still stand out and rebel, we should endeavor to take you by force.
First, he will have to be a man who has an absolute confidence in the authority of the Scriptures. This means that he will have to believe that Scripture as we have it today is infallible (2 Timothy 3:16-17), inerrant (Psalm 12:6; 19:7-11; 119:140), authoritative (Psalm 119:89), and sufficient (2 Timothy 3:17). For the lightning bolts to be able to thunder from a pulpit, the man who is standing in that pulpit must have the belief that what he is preaching is literally the words of God.
Second, he will have to be a man who unwaveringly preaches those Scriptures. This means that a preacher ought to make a commitment to preaching through the whole of the Scriptures. He cannot afford to take a hodge-podge approach to preach here and there and cherry pick the texts that come to his mind but rather to make a commitment to work through books of the Bible and make them useful for the edification and equipping of the saints (Ephesians 4:12-14). We will have to clearly mark the thought that however the Word is handled in the pulpit will be the way the Word is handled by those who hear us. If you place a high priority on the Word, you shall discover that over time, the congregation will place a high priority on the Word also.
However, to do this there will have to be a development of the preacher’s mental skills to accomplish this task. He will have to ardently protect his mind and continually work toward the educational improvement through study of the Bible. Furthermore there is a great price tag of personal discipline that is involved in this element of his life. If you are to be a true biblical expositor, it will only take place if you are willing to make a dailycommitment to interact with the Bible. Additionally I believe that the man God calls to preach will be equipped with an additional ability to speak what God has to say. It is a serious call because there will come a day when we will stand under the judgment of God for the words that we proclaimed (James 3:1; 2 Timothy 4:1).
Thirdly, he will have to be a man who is not swayed by cultural whims and church growth schemes to build the church. A few years ago, a Bible study series on several bygone television shows grabbed the attention of a number of preachers who used these very worldly themes to convey godly messages to their hearers. This kind of novelty will never work over the long-term process of building a church. Authority will never come from worldly and carnal means. This is what Paul was opposing when he spoke of worldly wisdom and the truth of God in 1 Corinthians 1:18-25.
These things are fad-driven and they have a direct correlation with apostasy and lukewarmness. When the Church becomes watered down by such methods, we lose our ability and power to attack the Ear Gate and prevail. In fact, Bunyan’s character that was defending the Ear Gate of Mansoul for Diabolus was Mr. WillbeWill, which was basically the embodiment of a flesh-driven, proud-hearted, carnally minded man. None of those fads would have moved him off of his position. However, once the furious pounding of the Ear Gate by Captain Boanerges and his comrades commenced, the Word began a turning of the hearts in Mansoul.
I encourage all of those who preach the Gospel to settle into it with a rigorous commitment and discipline of spirit to do the will of God!