I am looking for a preacher. How do I pick a preacher? The honest answer is you should not on your own pick a preacher. That is the problem almost all religions face: looking for a man or woman that they like and then, they will follow after them. God tells us: For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables (2 Timothy 4:3-4 NKJV). What you and everyone else on the face of the earth that has reached an age of accountability to God should do is this: LET GOD PICK THE PREACHER YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO! God knows what He wants in preaching and He does tell everyone who is and is not worthy to be preaching or teaching His word, or who we should listen to.
Be not many (of you) teachers, my brethren, knowing that we shall receive heavier judgment. (James 3:1 ASV) God clearly says that there are some that should not be preaching or teaching His word. So then, what does God say about who I should be listening to as preachers and teachers?
(1) The preacher has to be a Christian.
This may sound a bit peculiar, but the Bible is very clear that: (a) There will not be many Christians, only a few. For narrow is the gate, and straitened the way, that leadeth unto life, and few are they that find it. (Matthew 7:14 ASV) (b) Not many that claim to be Christians are Christians. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 7:21 ASV) A few years ago I read the estimates from 21st Century Christian publication on how many Christians there were in the world based upon their survey. They said there were about 3 million Christians in the world at that time. About 600,000 less than their previous survey. If you divide the 3 million Christians by the 8 billion people of the world’s population you have a fraction of one percent that are Christians. Remember God determines who His children are, His created human beings do not. You have to do what God says if you want to be a Christian. This eliminates about 99.9% of those claiming to be Christian preachers today!!! That is an amazing fact!!!
(2) The preacher has to be a male while preaching and teaching in mixed company.
This does sound very peculiar to the world we live in, but not to a Christian. For God says: But I permit not a woman to teach, nor to have dominion over a man, but to be in quietness. (1 Timothy 2:12 ASV) If you think this is only a cultural teaching the next verse places it all the way back to the beginning: For Adam was first formed, then Eve (1 Timothy 2:13 ASV). The word “teach” is a specific word and has the meaning to be a teacher that is teaching the word of God with an authoritative type of teaching in a teacher-pupil relationship. A woman can teach other women and children (including boys) with this type of teaching but is prohibited by God with this type of teaching to men or to have authority over men in the spiritual realm.
(3) The preacher has to preach the word of God
This again sounds very peculiar but God says: I charge (thee) in the sight of God, and of Christ Jesus, who shall judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be urgent in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching (2 Timothy 4:1-2 ASV). The preacher is commanded to preach the word (God’s word) and to teach God’s doctrines. He is not to preach and teach what a human being said God said. That may be one of our greatest problems today: hearing and believing what a mere human says God said and not studying what God said and preaching only what God said and not a human’s opinion of what God said. Those in Berea where commended because after Paul and Silas preached God’s word to them, they investigated it. They made Paul and Silas prove they were preaching the word of God. Now these were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of the mind, examining the Scriptures daily, whether these things were so. (Acts 17:11 ASV). They listened intently and then checked the Scriptures on a daily basis in order to find out if Paul and Silas were preaching and teaching the word of God. Indeed, they were and many became Christians because of it (Acts 17:12).
(4) The preacher has to let God interpret His Bible, then preach and teach what it says.
Most of the so-called preachers are preaching and teaching what they have deduced the Bible to say based upon what they have learned from other people. What happens then is many “preachers” are taking the man-made teaching and then expanding that teaching, and continue to repeat that teaching to where it eventually becomes the norm. Let God interpret His Bible: But we received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is from the one God; in order that we might know the things that were freely given to us of the one God. Which things also we are speaking, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Spirit teaches; comparing spiritual things with spiritual (words) (1Corinthians 2:12-13 ASV). This has been named “the law of double reference.” It means to compare the immediate context to the remote context or comparing Bible verses that compliment or prove each other. The Bible nowhere contradicts itself. The preacher must be very careful in his Bible study because he may add words or subtract words in order to promote a man-made teaching. WARNING: even as our beloved brother Paul also, according to the wisdom given to him, wrote unto you; as also in all (his) epistles, speaking in them of these things; wherein are some things hard to be understood, which the ignorant and unsteadfast twist, as (they do) also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction, you therefore, beloved, knowing (these things) beforehand, beware lest, being carried away with the error of the wicked, you fall from your own steadfastness. (2Peter 3:15b-17 ASV). The preacher who does not let God interpret His Bible will teach falsely and lead you astray.
(5) If the preacher is married, he has to have a Christian wife
The preacher does not have to be married. Paul is a good example of a preacher that was not married. But if the preacher decides to marry it must be according to God’s teachings and his wife must be a believer (Christian). My defense to those who examine me is this: Do we have no right to eat and drink? Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas? (1 Corinthians 9:3-5 NKJV). Here, Paul is making an argument to the congregation at Corinth that he is an apostle (one sent) of the Lord, Jesus Christ. In that argument he says that he and the other inspired men with him have the same rights that any of the other apostles have. One of those rights is to have a wife, but that wife has to be a Christian.
(6) The preacher has to practice what he is preaching
All of mankind that has reached an age where they are accountable to God are required to live according to God’s law (now the New Testament Bible). That is especially true of the one preaching and teaching that law. Jesus warned about hypocrites (teaching one thing and doing another). Jesus said: The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore, whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do (Matthew 23:2-3 NKJV). We are also warned about the many false teachers that would be trying to fool us: But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time, their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber (2Peter 2:1-3 NKJV). Jesus said we can identify them by their actions.
How do I choose a preacher? The honest answer is you do not choose a preacher but you let God choose who you will listen to concerning the teaching of His word. Then you check His Bible to make sure the preaching is correct. If his preaching agrees with the Bible, only then will he earn the right to preach and teach God’s word, and will have the right for you to listen to him.