It is clear that the preacher who satisfies himself with stimulating the natural sensibilities of taste & social affection has really done nothing toward his proper task [of stirring religious affections]; while he runs an imminent risk of deluding men with the vain counterfeit of natural emotions about religion, in place of true religious emotion.
[…] The pastor’s character speaks more loudly than his tongue.
–R.L. Dabney – Evangelical Eloquence
The only remedy for our national malady is white hot Gospel preaching. I want to direct this mainly at pastors. For several decades now we have treated the pulpit more as a talk show couch, than a holy desk where the oracles of God are declared unto man. I tweeted out this quote from T.H.L. Parker recently:
If the teaching is faithful to Scripture, then it is God who is speaking. #THLParker
— Ben Zornes (@benzornes) October 9, 2016
In standing before people to preach, you are standing there on behalf of Almighty God, and as far as your teaching is faithful, God deigns to make your words His. So, enough of this patsy-caking around; we’ve had enough of movie illustrations, personal anecdotes, poems, jokes, and video clips form popular sit-coms. Anymore, preachers have all the fervent mojo of a motivational speaker; we just pin a Bible verse or two to give the illusion of trying to preach.
Men, there are parents in your pews whose children are going to leave the faith and wreck their lives because of your milk-toast preaching. There is a young man in the back row who is on his way to commit suicide, and decided to give God one last chance. There is a man cheating on his wife, a couple who just miscarried once again after trying for years to conceive, a father and mother whose grown children have walked away from Christianity, and a teenager who is hanging out with the “wrong crowd”. Your task is to preach the Gospel and cling to the Holy Spirit to add His blessing to your feeble but faithful preaching to produce a harvest of faith and obedience in your people.
You have an impossible task, humanly speaking, so stop toying around with human inventions. Stop preaching about the Gospel and preach the Gospel. Stop preaching about the Word, and preach the Word. Stop giving your people anecdotes, and give them Christ.
The Federalist just released an article detailing the fact that massive percentages of modern evangelicals, when surveyed, hold to heretical doctrines (such as Christ was made and not begotten; and the inferiority of the Holy Ghost in the Trinity). This is on our watch, and largely because of our feckless preaching.
The call to preach is a call to speak God’s Word with boldness (i.e. plainness of speech) and apply it with gentleness and firmness to the plight of man. We’ve resorted to easier methods of communication, and left out the matters of greater import, in order to feel like we have been effective. Expositing the text of Scripture and relating the Biblical context to our modern context by a logically sound train of thought is hard work for both preacher and listener; not only so, but it must go beyond propositional logic well-articulated, and it must cut to the heart, confront sin, offer grace through Christ alone, rebuke worldliness and the love of the world, and command to obedience of God’s law.
Preaching is a miracle. It is God taking a man and speaking through him, and converting souls by the proclamation of the Gospel of the Kingdom. Preach to your people the only message we have been given to preach: God is reconciling man unto Himself through Jesus Christ…repent and believe. That’s it. The whole scope of Scripture leads us there, and pertains to our relationship with God the Father through Jesus. God blesses faithful preaching. He judges with vehemence men-pleasing soothsayers.
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