Time For God: May 23

Written by Paul Beckingham

Focus: 2 Timothy 4:2b
Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.
The Great Anglican preacher George Whitfield [1714-1770] returned from accolades in the USA to find churches in Britain closing their doors against him. So, he stood in a London graveyard to preach in the open air. He declared the Gospel to all who gave him ear. It is estimated that in his lifetime he preached 18,000 sermons to ten million listeners. A gifted preacher, he was truly ready in season and out of season.

Preaching to crowds of 20,000 people, Whitfield was known for his strong voice. He preached biblical truth: Other people may preach better than I, but no man can preach a better Gospel. A contemporary actor, David Garrick regularly heard him. He said that Whitfield had the theatrical power to move an audience from laughter to tears simply by speaking the word Mesopotamia in different dramatic intonations!

He profoundly convinced his hearers: Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, even persecutors, the worst of sinners; his righteousness is sufficient for them; his Spirit is able to purify and change their hearts. Revivals broke out as he rebuked sinners and exhorted them to turn to Christ. Rebels returned to God as backsliders repented.

Whitfield spoke with longsuffering. He showed great patience in the face of troubles caused by others—including the doorkeepers of churches that refused him entry. He took biblical teaching into the streets. Tenderly he preached to miners near Bristol, well known for living in debauchery. Visiting prisons, travelling highways and byways, declaring Christ’s love to all who listened, he was Christ’s tireless servant.

An Oxford graduate, Whitfield spoke winsomely to British aristocrats. Because of the Evangelical Revival, The Countess of Huntington formed a training institution, Trevecca College. She built a network of chapels across England where Whitfield preached. God anointed Whitfield’s dramatic eloquence with Holy Spirit power.

N.T. Wright notes: When barriers are broken down, when those who were previously enemies are reconciled, it is truly a work of God. Whitfield saw sinners reconciled to God and to one another. Whitfield’s revival rebuilt lives as God renewed the nation.

What can you do today to be ready in season and out of season to declare the Gospel? Whitfield prayed: Lord help me to begin to begin. How is God prompting you to start?

Lord, raise up a new generation of pastors and evangelists to share Your holy burden for the soul-welfare of women and men. Let Your begin work in me. May I declare your love to family and friends in word and deed this day and always. Amen.
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