Yesterday, I wrote about Melania Trump’s plagiarism of Michelle Obama. Of course, to be fair, as I said yesterday, it’s not really Melania’s fault; in fact, a staffer has come forward and apologized. Nope, there’s nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9); only Jesus spoke as no other man (John 7:46).
Because Jesus spoke as no other man, those who would dare to stand before the people of God dare not speak their own words. Not plagiarism. But, no originality, either. Those who proclaim the truths of God cannot be original—they have an obligation not to speak about pop psychology or ideas or theories or opinions. They must speak the very words of God.
Before Ahab went to battle at Ramoth-gilead, Jehoshaphat wanted assurances that the Lord would bless their efforts. Lying prophets stood before Ahab and urged him to go to Ramoth-gilead, for YHWH would, the lying prophets said, give the territory to the king. But, Jehoshaphat, unconvinced by the lying prophets, wanted to inquire of another prophet. Ahab sent to prison to have Micaiah brought before the kings, and the messenger sent to fetch Micaiah urged the prophet to speak favorable words to the two kings. Yet, the prophet boldly declared, “As the LORD lives, what the LORD says to me, that I will speak” (1 Kings 22:14). No, Micaiah wouldn’t plagiarize, for he would give God the credit, but the prophet refused to speak his own words.
When the Lord called Jeremiah to prophesy, God put forth his hand, touched the young prophet’s lips, and said, “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth” (Jeremiah 1:9). Jeremiah couldn’t proclaim whatever came to his mind. He couldn’t preach his own ideas. He couldn’t soothe his hearers’ ears with flattering oratory. God had put his very words in the prophet’s mouth.
When the Spirit fell upon the apostles at Pentecost, the Lord’s disciples, “were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4). The words the apostles spoke in other tongues were not their own, but they were words as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Peter understood that when he quoted David, he was actually quoting, not David, but the Spirit. As the apostles began the process of replacing Judas, Peter said, “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas” (Acts 1:16). When Peter quoted from the Psalms, he didn’t quote David, but he quoted the very Spirit of God.
After the first persecution, the early church came together to pray. They said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit….” (Acts 4:24-25). The church understood David did not speak for himself, but he spoke from God.
Scripture contains, not the words of men, but the words of God. “We also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God” (1 Thessalonians 2:13). “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). “No prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21).
Because Scripture came from the throne of God through the Holy Spirit, those who would proclaim the riches of Christ must “preach the word” (2 Timothy 4:2). When a man stands in the pulpit, he dare not proclaim his opinions, the latest pop psychology, or a “feel good” message—he must preach the word! Always the word. Nothing but the word. Only that word has the power to save (Romans 1:16). Only that word is able to make the man of God “complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17).
What does Melania Trump have in common with preachers? She used the words of another in her speech Monday night. Preachers must always use the words of Another, the very words of God.