What's Wrong With Today's Preaching? (1)

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Is the visible church of Jesus Christ impacting the world, or is it being infiltrated by the world?  Is it a strong testimony to this fallen world, or is it spiritually anemic?  

Take notice, I am asking these questions about the “visible” church of Jesus Christ.  That is, I am referring to the present-day gathered, global community of Christendom; that community of all who have been physically baptized into the “visible” body of Christ. However, this body of “professing” believers includes everyone who has actually been placed by God into His “invisible” church (1 Corinthians 12:13; Hebrews 12:23). These “invisible” church members are those who both profess and possess eternal salvation. While they are on earth, these true saints exist as members of the “visible” church -- which is also populated by those who think they are saved, but are self-deceived. Jesus called such self-deceived individuals, “tares” (Matthew 13:30) and “goats” (Matthew 25:32).  Now, because the “visible” church is seen with the preacher’s own eyes, he must make it his practice to never presume that every person found sitting in the pew is truly a child of the King. He must determine to continually evangelize his church (James 5:19-20; 2 Timothy 4:5), while he primarily labors for its spiritual maturity (Ephesians 4:11-16). The sad reality is that many preachers do neither.  They prepare “sermonettes” which produce “christianettes” (2 Timothy 4:3). What is a “sermonette”? It’s a sermon that is full of jokes, cute little anecdotes, and a few orthodox rants which aim to gain the smile of man rather than the smile of God. It is more entertainment-driven than edification-driven. What is a “christianette”? He’s either a professing believer who is spiritually immature or a self-deceived hypocrite. He looks more like a goat than a sheep (1 Corinthians 3:1-3; Hebrews 5:11-14; Matthew 25:32). Spiritually weak and fearful pastors often pet such goats at the expense of feeding their sheep. This method of ministry reveals that their motivation to preach in this way comes more from a concern to climb the denominational career-ladder, than from being faithful to their calling from God (2 Timothy 1:6).  Thus, I believe the primary reason for the “visible” church's present anemic testimony is that its preaching is more man-pleasing (Galatians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:4), than God-pleasing (2 Corinthians 5:9; 2 Timothy 4:1-2). So, our “Ultimate Question” for the next two weeks now materializes:  WHAT'S WRONG WITH TODAY’S PREACHING?  The answer is two-fold. There is a problem with the man (i.e. the preacher) and his message. This week we will take up “Part 1 - The Man”.  Why would the primary problem of a church's spiritual anemia lay with the preacher?  Because a basic rule of thumb is, “like priest, like people” or “as the preacher goes, so go the people” (Hosea 4:9a).  In other words, show me a spiritually weak and shallow church, and in almost every instance, I'll show you a spiritually weak and shallow pulpit.  Beloved, a spiritually weak and shallow pulpit (i.e., a man-centered, man-pleasing pulpit) points back to serious spiritual deficiencies in a preacher's personal walk with God – the most obvious being his fear of man (Proverbs 29:25). In addition, there is a strong possibility that such a preacher is devoid of sanctifying grace (Matthew 7:21-23). But how can this be? It is made possible because a preacher's message cannot be divorced from his personal walk with God. One man crystallized this truth for us all when he made the following statement:  “A minister’s life, is the life of his ministry”. Therefore, we understand a pastor’s usefulness and effectiveness are somehow interconnected with his private life with God. This is why Paul admonished young Timothy to “pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things; for as you do this you will insure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you” (1 Timothy 4:16; cf. Acts 20:28). For Timothy to become a spirit-filled instrument of God, he was to first take heed to himself and then to his teaching (doctrine). Foundational to all sermon preparation then, is the daily maintenance of the preacher's systematic, personal, and devotional relationship with God.  As he daily spends time with God in the secret place consecutively pouring over the Scriptures (for the benefit of his own soul) and communing with God in vital secret prayer, it is then and only then that he will be ready to prepare and preach the kind of sermons that will verify his calling (2 Corinthians 2:17) and mature Christ's church (Colossians 1:28).  Such preaching will “comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable,” or “feed the sheep and offend the goats”.  So, WHAT'S WRONG WITH TODAY’S PREACHING? It is, first of all, a problem with the preacher. Next time, we will see there is also a problem with the preacher's message (Amos 8:11). How is the preacher’s life behind the preaching in your church? Will you sit under Biblical preaching this Sunday (Hosea 6:1-3)? 

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