A danger: Drifting from ‘reproving, rebuking, exhorting’
Our churches and our congregations have been drifting for too long.
Where have we come to? Why have we gotten there? What can we do to rectify the situation?
Have you ever gone fishing on a creek in a small boat with only oars as a means of moving your fair craft? Once you have found your favorite spot, you stop and start to fish, forgetting to put out the anchor. Only to find that an hour later you have completely drifted away from where you started.
I am afraid that Christian (evangelical) churches of today have not put out their anchors and have drifted far away from where we started. For you see, folks, it is easier to drift than to go upstream.
How do I know this to be true? Just look around us at the churches. Today, we are developing newer methods of marketing the church. Forgetting, it seems, that Christ died for the bride and that the WORD must be central. Have you noticed today is the time of “talks,” dialog drama and communications? John Chrysostom (AD 398) asked, “How can the body be healed? One way of cure has been given…and that is the teaching of the WORD…without it nothing else will avail.”
Today, biblical preaching has been termed old hat. However, Paul in I Cor. 1:17 said, “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the Gospel.” And, Rom. 10:14, “… how shall they learn without a preacher?”
It has come to my attention, through printed articles and through the actions of preachers that: exegesis, exposition, bold proclamation and proper hermeneutics are old school and won’t work in today’s culture. The issue is not culture. It is fulfilling the call and command to preach as Paul instructed Timothy in II Tim. 4. As preachers, we are to “reprove, rebuke, exhort” with great patience and instruction (= doctrine). Why? Because the day HAS come when they “DO” not endure sound (= healthy) doctrine. The church, for the most part, will not endure (= bear under) doctrine, for they do not know doctrine. Reason? We do not teach doctrine or theology. Instead we tell stories and give the appearance of a stand-up comic. Today we dress down, water down, melt down and bring down the office of the pastor as well as the truth. We have widened the sheep gate and lowered the holy standards of a Holy God.
Anointed Biblical preaching will provoke people to think, shake them from their slumber, and challenge them to change. We should be ashamed for boring people with the WORD that is alive (like moving furniture on the Titanic).
We should be convicted for preaching sermons without content. We should repent for spending more time singing than preaching. We should ask the saints of God to forgive us for short changing them on doctrine and theology. Finally, we should be as Isaiah and proclaim, “Woe is me” for I have not equipped the saints. I have neglected feeding, leading, and guiding the sheep.
Just look at what happened with Bill Hybels at Willow Creek, quote: “We didn’t realize until it was too late how our know-it-all attitude was undermining the self assurance of parents.” (See full story at townhall.com by Bob Burney), Crosswalk.com or contact Bob at email@example.com.
We must “preach the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20). We must confront sin, challenge the church to holy living, pursuing purity in the body by condemning sinful behavior. In other words, teach and implement church discipline according to I Cor. 5 and Matt. 18.
In many churches today, the sermon has been reduced to a five to 15 minute happening. Why is this mindset in preaching today? Could it be that no one wants to be under authority or, for that matter, authoritative? Where in Scripture do we find the term “user friendly?” Is this a biblical term? Did Paul create an atmosphere to where the sinner was “comfortable?”
Our Lord was involved in confrontational evangelism. In Luke 18, had Jesus been building relationships with the young man? I don’t think so! Can someone be saved without being confronted with their sin and the Gospel (Rom. 10:17)? Is repentance mandated for salvation? Jesus seemed to think so (Luke 13:1-3). The disciple preached repentance (Mark 6:12). So, repentance (= turning from our sin) is essential for salvation.
Folks, it is critical that there be a revival of preaching. If the church of America is ever going to see revival, spiritual renewal, we (the preachers) must be the catalyst by which it starts. I pray that there may be a return to Christ-centered, God-anointed, passion-driven, dynamic, Bible-based, confrontational, loving preaching. Preaching overall is at a low ebb, and the church is weak. The sun is sinking low, yet in the darkest moment the light shines the brightest. May we choose to sharpen the sword of truth, standing firm as the culture seeks to dictate our path, so at the end we, too, can say as Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith” (II Tim. 4:1-2).
The danger of drifting is real. We must throw out our anchor and start “heading back upstream or …?”
We must preach the Book, the Blood and the Blessed Hope. (Larry Fackler is the director of missions for Lamine Baptist Association, a member of the Missouri Baptist Convention Executive Board and is a member of the Convention’s Executive Director Search Committee.)