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Preaching God's Unchained Word

Chained to the unchained word to declare the unchanging word to an ever changing world.


Second Timothy 2:8-9: "Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David. That is my gospel, for which I suffer hardship even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But the word of God is not chained." As brothers and sisters we are chained to the unchained word of God in order to declare the unchanging word to an ever changing world. This is the paradox of our preaching.

From 1907 to 1970 Harry Houdini, the great escape artist performed successfully in these United States of America. He escaped from coffins, handcuffs, chains, jails, and straightjackets. He did it all in the presence of a live audience. In 1909 he published a book titled Handcuffs Secrets in which he divulged some of his escape artistry. He said sometimes by using properly applied force he could escape various contraptions. He'd use shoestrings and lock pins. Even at will he would be able to regurgitate small keys that he had swallowed that would enable him to escape. He was a great escape artist.

The towering figure before us this morning of the apostle Paul was not an escape artist. He was an endurance artist. He endured chains, handcuffs, and jails. And one day he would escape the coffin, the grave, as he will give in his own eulogy, 2 Timothy 4:6-8. He was a great endurance artist. Paul was familiar with jails. He knew what it was like to be in solitary confinement, to be confined by four walls, and to be guarded by soldiers.

Preachers Behind Bars

In fact, some of the greatest saints and sages of all the ages have had jail time.

Joseph spent years in Egypt, and interpreted the dream of Pharaoh, which enabled the remnant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to continue. Now the children of Israel will have a place to get grain, ...

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Robert Smith Jr. is Associate Professor of Divinity at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama.

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I. Preachers behind bars

II. Preaching without hindrance

III. Preaching in the present tense

IV. Preaching like a soldier, athlete, and farmer

V. Preaching the incomparable Christ

VI. Preaching the unchained Word