Many times I've heard the statement that if we don't deliver the gospel message God can raise up stones to do it. That of course is a possibility but two things I would say about it. One is that what Matthew 3:7 is referencing is not about preaching the gospel but birthing children to Abraham which would demand a competely different metaphor than speaking. The other is while God could use stones to cry out a message He has chosen to use people. It is also true that as usual people can/do get in the way of what God is doing. In other words__ for our purposes__ the messenger can get in the way of the message. I'm going to address in this post and others to follow in a practical way that reality.
The first way the messenger can get in the way of the message is by changing the message with a dogmatic declaration of meaning where there may be some ambiguity within the text of scripture itself. The emphasis of real Keirugma [preaching] is on the message as stated in my previous post. Someone in authority has given another [the preacher/speaker] a message to deliver and the speaker does not proclaim his/her own grievances or opinions or viewpoints on private matters as authorative, but must faithfully find and deliver the meaning of the text as he/she sees it. [I'm using both genders here as the women prophesying in the NT were delivering a message from God and__ it seems to me__ it can happen under His assigment today.] This must be done with humility because it is not the messengers prerogative to declare absolute meanings when there may be ambiguity
This is where I came to in 1980 in my own preaching when I determined to not preach anything as absolute except what I personally saw as clearly presented in the text. My message changed beyond anything I could have imagined. I came to grips with the fact that much/most of the things I was saying in the pulpit was coming from what I'd heard others, whom I admired, say was in the text or was generally Baptist held viewpoints because of traditions that were baptistic in reputation but had no real foundation in the text itself.
I also began to see that what Peter said of some of the things Paul the Apostle preached was correct. [This is also true of several matters in the text of scripture.] Some of the things he delivered WERE hard to understand and those that were the most difficult I decided I'd better hold my personal view as to their meaning lightly because the correct meaning was more important than my interpretation.
This is not out of a lack of confidence in the integrity or authority of the text but a true awareness of my own inadequacy to hear God accurately on occasion. Some things are clear. Some things are not that clear. When the text isn't totally clear I won't be dogmatic as to it's meaning. 1Timothy 2:15 and the "she shall be saved in child-bearing" is an example. From my present perspective the whole of that chapter may have been delivered through a glass a little darker than some are willing to admit. But that's another post.
Since the true biblical messenger is to be careful of proclaiming his/her own viewpoint, opinions or grievances, I tread lightly on some passages and some theological positions that others seem to state the meaning of with great personal conviction. More power to them. All I'm saying is the messenger CAN get in the way of the message if we declare as absolute our personal views on some issues where there are good people on both sides of a possible meaning of any given text.
I'm not sure but what God may have left some of His total message a little less clear than say the gospel so we will make clear with conviction that gospel and keep trusting Him for greater understanding of other theological areas. I love what Gene Bridges said... and I quote___"And, with that in mind, I think we can be more confident about our reliance on probabilistic reasoning, for if God has wanted us to have more evidence or better evidence, then it was within his power to do so. Hence we are judging certain questions on the basis of the evidence which he has left at our disposal. Therefore, we shouldn't be plagued by nagging, gnawing doubts about the possibility of being wrong. Even if I were wrong some of the time, it's out of my hands, and I'm in his hands. As a Christian, I don't require a godlike control over the evidence. I can go with what I've got because it's what God has given me to go by." I have to say "amen" to that statement. I can give my understanding of difficult passages but respect others who differ with me trusting the God who gave it in the first place to be able to make clear His message ultimately.
My goodness, no human father I know would give ALL information to his children as soon as they are born. Even Jesus increased in WISDOM, stature, and favor as time went along. The messenger of God's Word is still going along and had better be open to greater light if the true message is to, in fact, be ultimately delivered. But that's just me.
Someone may object and say "but don't you believe the Holy Spirit is perfectly capable of giving you the true meaning of any passage including the difficult ones?" My answer is__"absolutely." My only problem would be to assume I'm the one He's given the true meaning to. This especially if there are others who genuinely love Jesus and His Word but are on the other side of my interpretation of a difficult to understand text. It could be that I'm the one in the dark or the one with baggage or filters that hinder my being granted understanding by the Holy Spirit. It sure helps me to know of my need for community. Body life is helpful even to the messenger. You can see why I'm one who believes there ARE some essentials that must be clearly understood and declared by all the Body and other things less clear and less essential to fully understand or it would have been given through a glass not quite so dark. [But that would have ruined our need to search the scriptures diligently and be open to each other wouldn't it.] All this comes from my deep conviction that the messenger can, in fact, hinder the true message which I DO NOT want to do.
I like what Trevor Hart, Professor of systematic theology in at St Mary's School of Divinity in Scotland said with these words..."[W]e should never take the fatal step of identifying our interpretations (however careful they may be) with the text itself, or with “the meaning of the text itself.” To do so is to bestow upon them a finality, a sufficiency, which lifts them above the text and out of reach of criticism. Far from establishing the text’s authority, therefore, this is a strategy which effectively overthrows it, and enthrones our interpretation in its place. . . . [We] are no longer genuinely open, therefore, to consider it afresh, or to hear it speaking in any other voice than the one which [we] have now trapped, tamed, and packaged for observation." Apply this to difficult texts [or lesser doctrines] about which good people disagree and while I don't know the Doctor's full theology, I sure like his humble approach to hammering out his theology.
You can see I believe any messenger must be more concerned with the message getting delivered than whether or not they are the one who has the correct view of difficult things or whether they are the one who is delivering it. Our desire that the message be delivered is to take precedence over our concern for being right in our interpretation or being the one people look to as the preacher who says it well. The messenger is not the focus in New Testament proclamation. It MAY BE this is the primary problem in our current mega-church mentality and our creedal mentality.
Next will come an inner examination the messenger/preacher must be honest with in order to not hinder the message. I know this is long and wordy but__ after all__God took an extra forty years with Moses because He is ALWAYS concerned with getting the messenger out of the way before that messenger is sent on the way to deliver "Thus saith the Lord.". Many of us as preachers/speakers are, in fact, our own worst enemy.