Heidi and I have a lot of conversations about preaching because it is so near and dear to our hearts. We both have the desire to move into full-time ministry if the way be made clear by the LORD.
Where I struggle in the meantime is sitting under other pastors as they preach. Most preachers just make me want to enter back into the pulpit again. I think this is because I feel that preaching should be filled with Spirit-lead zeal and conviction. Every passage of Scripture is of the most importance and far too many preachers treat passages as if they are just something to talk about for a while.
When I was still preaching in Roswell, it became a standing joke because so often when I preached from a text, I would say it was one of my “favorite” texts, out of my favorite book.
And why should we not have such an attitude? Every word, every chapter, ever book is the word of God given to us for our edification and His glory. Therefore we should preach it as such. We Christians have the most important of all messages in the world, yet so few preach with any real conviction. It is almost as if they are afraid God’s word will offend certain people.
That is a good fear to have because God’s word does offend the sinner. It tells the sinner he/she is a sinner and needs a Savior in order to approach God. So why hide that fact? Why soften what God has given to us? Why not declare it so forcefully that those who are not walking by the Spirit want nothing to do with it?
Jesus preached in such a manner. So did Peter. So did Paul. All three found themselves facing trouble from authorities and suffered because of the forcefulness, as well as the content, of their preaching. In fact, if Jesus preached the way most pastors preach today, the Pharisees would not have bothered with Him. His message would not have offended anyone. But He did preach with zeal and with the knowledge that He knew what He said was offensive. It has to be. We need the forcefulness of God’s word in our lives because only by it can we come to the saving knowledge of Christ.
Yet, in our day and age, we would be hard pressed to find many preachers saying anything that would offend anyone at all.
Instead of preaching the gospel, some preach stupid and silly messages about how a Bible passage is going to self-actualize you in your little life. Instead of preaching the deepness and richness of the gospel, far too many men preach comforting blather. Instead of being black and white, as the Scriptures are, they preach soft generalities. I just don’t see how so many men could fall into such fearfulness when it comes to preaching.
Jesus was very black and white when it came to the gospel. We should be black and white as well. You are either in Christ, saved by faith alone, by grace alone in Christ alone, or you are remain eternally damned. But far be it from anyone to actually say this in a public arena today.
I guess what I’m saying is that the men who fill the pulpits every week need to get over the fear of what God’s word actually says and deal with it. Quit hiding what it says, and proclaim it. This was always my desire when I preached. I truly felt a real burden to proclaim what it said, with all seriousness. It is not easy to do. It will drain a man in doing so. But it still must be done.
Preaching in such a manner will also come at a cost. The crowds will not show up. They won’t come to listen because when God’s word is truly proclaimed, it’s too much for the fallen sinner. Now the believer, the one born again, loves to hear preaching with zeal. He loves the word of God proclaimed. He loves the black and white. And because of that, we need to preach God’s word faithfully.
As for what really brought the post on was the following thought I had as a result of our conversation this morning:
There is nothing new under the sun to be preached. If your pastor is coming up with new things to preach, leave. The gospel is ancient, back to the Garden of Eden. We are saved the same way Abel was, by faith in the promises of Christ. Therefore, if you want something new, then you open yourself up to heresy.
For the record: there is no new heresy. All of them are only slightly older than the gospel (think of Satan’s lie to Adam). New heresies are really just old heresies with a new dress and fresh lipstick.