In order to be the spiritual successor of the Presbyterian Church in the USA, the OPC had to become culturally significant.
Those words were penned in Fighting the Good Fight: A Brief History of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, by D.G. Hart and John Muether. In the early 1940s, there were those in the OPC who feared that the denomination would not be socially involved enough, and they were seeking to bring about a committee to make sure they didn’t drop the social-agenda ball.
Hart and Muether had already shown that the identity of the OPC never was to have a politically-active mindset. In fact, members of the OPC had fought against it from the beginning of the denomination’s history.
Not that they were always silent. They did send letters to like-minded churches in South Africa with concerns about apartheid long before it became popular to bring up the topic in the 1980s. But the OPC has never been one to jump on the political and social bandwagons that we see so many churches doing today.
We live in a day in which the church truly needs men who will boldly proclaim the word of God. Some might think that we already have that. I wish it were true. But far too many men enter the pulpits of their churches with the idea that they are going to give an inspirational chat, instead of proclaim the divine mysteries of God. In other words, they fail to preach with authority.
At a site on Facebook, the author put up the suggestion that when we go out to eat dinner at a restaurant, we leave a healthy tip, and a gospel tract. He suggested that even when the service is horrible, leave a bigger tip and a tract.
This seems like such a righteous thing to do. But alas, this is contrary to what the Bible says when it comes to the spread of the gospel. No where are we told to share gospel tracts. The Scripture is quite clear that we are to preach the gospel.
We see this in Romans 10:14-15
How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:
“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,
Who bring glad tidings of good things!”
There is a theological reason that God has chosen preaching to reach His elect. It goes back to the Garden of Eden when the temptation of Adam and Eve took place. Satan tempted the first couple through the spoken word. Satan had no power over Adam. All he could do is use words to tempt them. Sadly, it was enough.
Surprisingly, it is through the spoken word, or preached word, that God has chosen to undue the work of Satan. We are to be the people of God, who are of the preached word. This is why the Scriptures says So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. It is also why the word says, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
By hearing Satan’s claims, Adam fell into sin. It is through the hearing of the work of the Second Adam that we will be saved. Given that, let us support those faithful preachers who proclaim God’s word, and quit depending upon the inventions of men to do what God has not told us to do, which is preach the Word (2 Timothy 4:2).
One more point. The author of the site came back with the rebuttal that his uncle was saved through reading the Bible, and another person was saved through reading a tract. The author was appealing to the exception clause of the rule, thereby making it the rule. The rule is that we preach God’s word faithfully. The exception is that GOD MOVES when and where and how He pleases. Yes, God can use the tracts we pass out. Yes, God can use the reading of God’s word for ourselves. But this is not what He has CALLED us to do. He has called men in the body of Christ to preach the word and teach it. He has also called some to be evangelist (Ephesians 4:11-12). Through those offices, He operates through the ordinary means of grace. He can use any means He has chosen. But it up to us to be obedient in the use of the means He has given us.
I really enjoyed reading Dean Abbott’s article “Engaging the Culture” Doesn’t Work Because Christian Beliefs Are a Mark of Low Status over at Patheos. He makes some great observations concerning this misguided movement. My regular readers know that I am not a fan of those who call for us to engage the culture (ETC) because what often happens is that the church ends up looking more like the culture rather than the culture looking like the church.
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him
of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? (Romans 10:14)
This verse is one of those monumental verses we have in Scripture that point to the absolute necessity of preaching. Those who belong to Christ, must hear from Him, and the means by which we hear from Christ, is through the faithful preaching of His word.
Michael Horton, in his book A Better Way, makes the case that preaching is God’s means for reaching His people. While we can do all other manner of outreach, preaching is what God has ordained for us to do in order to reach the lost.
My wife discovered that Dr. Jason Lisle was participating in street preaching at the Denton County Courthouse this past Friday. We both enjoy hearing him speak about creation, given that he is a real scientist and zealous for the gospel. Since I had never experienced street preaching, we wanted to go and listen.
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.
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
“Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.
“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.
I hope that when you hear the words of our LORD, you are as comforted by them as I have been over the past several weeks. We often think of these words as being quite profound, given that they are so at odds with the world’s understanding of things. They are not rooted in the worldly system of the Great Harlot. They are words rooted in Christ’s holiness, the Father’s love, and the Spirit’s comforting power.
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; 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.
This question was recently presented to me and it is a good question. Should we give the pastor who baptizes our children an honorarium? After all, we do so when a pastor performs a wedding, and sometimes even a funeral. Where should we draw the line?
For baptism, the answer is clearly in the “no” category. Performing baptisms, like administering the LORD’s supper and preaching, are a part of a pastor’s regular duties. The pastor is charged with administering the normal means of grace, of which are baptism and the LORD’s supper. It would be quite odd for a pastor to expect additional money for doing what he was hired to do.
Performing weddings is a different story since he is under no obligation to conduct the ceremony. He does so for the blessing of the couple involved and gives up personal time on a Saturday, therefore he should be compensated for doing so.
Recently I applied to work as the executive director for an organization that does work with the church overseas. I was really hopeful in getting the position because it would have allowed me to teach and instruct those in the ministry, even though this was a non-ordained position.
When I first entered the ministry some 20 years ago, there was a catch phrase that was bouncing around among the churches regarding what they were looking for in a pastor. The word was “winsome.” This really struck me as troublesome on one level, although I could not say why I found it to be so. I should have looked up the word to understand it.
Winsome is defined as “cheerful, pleasant, and appealing.”
On a superficial level, this sounds great. Who doesn’t want a pastor who is “cheerful, pleasant, and appealing?” After all, a man like that could attract large crowds of people, build a ministry so big, that you could use an old basketball arena to house all the people. In fact, when thinking about the quality of being winsome, no one fits the bill better than Joel Osteen out of Houston. He is definitely “cheerful, pleasant, and appealing.”
As the year wraps up, we are getting close to the end of my Top 25 posts for 2015. Here are posts 10-6:
10. 5 Things I wish Every Congregation Knew. This comes from my time as a pastor and in view of a fellow pastor being run off because he dared preach the full counsel of God’s word. I know. I listened to enough of his sermons to know he was a solid preacher who was being faithful to his calling. If more congregations would think deeply on these issues, we would have less turnover in the pulpit.
9. Top 5 Abused Bible Verses. This post focuses on those verses that are ripped out of context to mean just about everything for every situation.
8. 7 Celebrities Destined for Hell When They Die. What can you say? If someone denies Christ, then what are we to conclude? There is no hope for them outside of Christ, therefore, they are destined for hell if the LORD does not intervene and rescue them from their plight.
7. We Cry Abba/Father, Not Daddy! This covers a sickening trend I’ve noticed among some who address God the Father as “daddy.”
6. Ishmael, Blessed but Not Chosen. This one gets a lot of action because Muslims love to come to it and try and debate me over the issue. However…I have turned off the comments for this post! Ha ha!
Posts 1-5 are scheduled for tomorrow.
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.
NOTE: This is my intro for the sermon I will be preaching this morning at Christ Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, TN. While it seems that the sermon intro is sad, it leads into the reality that the believer has a living hope in Christ. That hope is a greater reality than the reality we experience on this side of glory.
One of our great desires we all have in our lives is to have a place we call home. We all long for it. We want some place we know. We want a place that is familiar to us. We want to know it is always going to be there. We want to know that it will have some changes to it, but not too much.
Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? Who will stand for me against the workers of iniquity? (Psalm 94:16)
C.H. Spurgeon writes:
Faithful ministers are few, and fewer still are bold enough to stand and defy the enemies of truth. Where are our Luthers and our Calvins? A false charity weakened Israel’s valiant men. One John Knox would be worth a mint at this hour, but where is he? Our great consolation is that the God of Knox and Luther is still with us, and in due time He will call His chosen champions.
From Spurgeon’s The Treasury of David.
I love this quote for two reasons. The first is that Spurgeon languished with the reality that there was so much weakness found in the ministers of his day, just as there is a weakness in the ministers of our day. There are far too many men who enter the pulpits across the country who refuse to do the work to preach God’s word faithfully. They are committed more to being the congregation’s general counselor instead of a true shepherd that is committed to feeding the sheep from God’s holy word. They may use the Bible, but it’s not there for exposition or rebuke, correction, etc. It’s there as life’s road map.
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.