I know this will not go over well in our hyper-egalitarian society, but there is no greater privilege for a man other than to stand in the pulpit and declare God’s truth to God’s people. To do so faithfully is to imitate Christ to the utmost, for in doing so, the faithful preacher is allowing the people of Christ to hear from Him in a spiritual sense. The faithful preacher who declares the full counsel of God’s word is feeding the flock. He is building them up, encouraging them, and allowing God’s word to work in their lives toward sanctification.
Here is the introduction to my most recent sermon. Preached at King’s Parish (ARP) in Dallas, Tx, this past Sunday.
When my wife and I were having our morning Bible study recently, we came to this passage of scripture (Luke 6:27-36) before us and immediately felt the weight of conviction. Please don’t think that we would be alone in this. But for us, our experience is that we had to acknowledge that we do have enemies in our lives. This is a reality that few people will actually profess as Christians.
There are people in our lives who abuse us, who spitefully use us, who say things about us that would tarnish our characters and reputations. Yes, we have enemies.
One of my problems with the yearly celebration of the first advent of Christ is that there is so little support for celebrating such a day in Scripture. When we look at Mark’s gospel, he completely ignores the birth of Christ. The Apostles never speak of it other than the birth accounts given in Matthew, Luke, and John. But what they all do speak to is the purpose of Christ’s coming. In Mark, Jesus declares His purpose early on in His ministry:
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand;[a] repent and believe in the gospel.” (Emphasis added).
Notice the first thing that Jesus does: He preaches. He proclaims the necessity of repentance and belief in the gospel. He doesn’t set out to change the world through social advocacy. He doesn’t set out to be nice. He doesn’t set out to comfort people in their sin. He confronts them with their need to repent of their sin and trust in the gospel.
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.
I recently had the opportunity to hear a pastor who was relatively new to the ministry. I could tell that he was gifted because he actually preached with zeal for the truth. You would think that zeal for the truth would be considered a requirement for pastors today, but given the shape of the American church, and the number of pastors who sound more like counselors than those called to proclaim God’s truth, preaching the truth with zeal has fallen on hard times. When you are more likely to hear what the Bible actually says from an enemy of the gospel, rather than from a preacher of the gospel, then you know we are indeed in the last days.
I was reading with my bride this morning from Jeremiah 20 a description of Jeremiah’s unpopular ministry. The LORD had commanded him to declare “violence and plunder” to the people, since their doom was set even though they acted as though they were going to repent.
I couldn’t help but joke that the prophet Jeremiah was what so many people want in a pastor today, someone “winsome and nice.” Yet, when we are truly called by God, when we are truly filled with the Spirit to proclaim God’s word, “winsome and nice” is not really a priority. Being faithful to God’s calling is the priority. Sometimes the message of God’s word does not allow for winsome and nice, because the message itself must remind us that God will not be mocked.
Reading in Jeremiah 3 this morning, I came across this wonderful verse:
“Return, O backsliding children,” says the LORD; “for I am married to you. I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion. And I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.”
This passage is packed with spiritual truth. We see the need for repentance, the relationship of those who do so with the LORD, election of those who are called by Him, and even their destination to Zion. But what jumped out at me was the fact that He will call shepherds according to His heart and for the purpose of feeding His people with knowledge and understanding.
We all have recurring nightmares and dreams. It is usually some embarrassing situation about showing up to class wearing only underwear, or giving a presentation in a bathing suit. I still have the dream about being enrolled in a class at Texas A&M and forgetting to attend that class all semester long until finals, when I realize I have to go take a final for a class that I forgot I had.
There are some sermons that are so good, they must be listened to more than once. The one posted below by Ligon Duncan is one of those sermons. This message has helped my understanding of the bigger picture of what God is doing more than any in a while. Just listen and see how God was working in Elijah, even in Elijah’s failures. As Ligon points out, sometimes the answer to our desires and prayers is “no” because God is doing something bigger than our desires.
Give yourself some time to listen.
Hattip: Heath. And Heath, thanks for sharing this with me. I do appreciate that.
Apparently there is a new movie out entitled The Son of God that is about Jesus, His ministry and His death. And there have been attempts by the promoters of this movie to do with it, what was done with Mel Gibson’s The Passion of Christ. If you recall with the first movie, many in the church made a big deal to try and get as many people to go as possible, using the movie as an evangelistic tool. I was opposed to this type of evangelism then, and now. I see it as a lazy man’s attempt to get his wife-beating brother in-law to come to Christ. Of all those who supposedly came to know Christ because of Gibson’s presentation of Jesus, how many are truly believers today?