The Expository Files.

 

A Warning To Preachers:
Comments on Crisis-Preaching & Culture-Preaching
 

CRISIS: While our preaching must respond to any crisis (involving any sin or error), our crisis-response-mode may tempt us to neglect other things (about which there is no present alarm). If today, for example, I preach on marriage, divorce and remarriage with such repetition and frequency, I neglect other things taught in the Scriptures, I have fallen under an undue influence.  In such a time as this, we must preach what the Bible says about God's law of marriage. We should be anxious to tell people what Jesus said, and warn of the consequences of ignoring Matt. 5:32 and Matt. 19:9. But if we do this in some sort of obsessive manner, we may betray our commitment to preach the whole counsel of God, neglecting things of equal essentiality.
 
CULTURE: There is another, very different, influence that may put us in position to violate our commitment as preachers. I'm talking about what the culture or market demands. In our time there is great interests in sermons known for their perceived practicality, popular style, brevity and emotional value. Generally, people have little interests in sermons delivered to respond to some sin or error. There is greater interests in vague, good advice, social commentary or the fashionable, ecumenical approach.
 
Though it may seem unlikely, there is the possibility of preachers falling into both of these pitfalls at the same time! {The devil can easily use the unlikely to slowly accomplish his purpose.} If you preach on marriage, divorce and remarriage over and over - then use the rest of your time catering to itching ears, you leave out a huge bulk of Biblical truth that holds great significance and need. When is the last time you delivered a sermon about the Lord's church, the Holy Spirit, the difference between the covenants, the error of premillennialism, etc., etc., etc.
 
The solution? Let your preaching be governed by one thing. The Word! 
 
1I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: 2Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 5But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Tim. 4:1-5)
 
Doy Moyer wrote this, that fits the topic well:
 
Balance in Preaching
 
Preaching is not the easiest task in the world. The preacher knows that he must address subjects that are difficult and, sometimes, offensive to some. His job is to preach the word, in season and out, reproving, rebuking, and exhorting with great patience and instruction (2 Tim. 4:2). He knows that there
will be those who do not want to hear the truth, but would rather heap up teachers who will say those things they want to hear. And there are plenty of ear-ticklers available.
 
The preacher must be bold, uncompromising of truth, and plain-spoken so as to be understood. He knows that he cannot water the message down so that it loses its power and focus. He realizes that he has a great responsibility toward himself and those who hear what he has to say (cf. 1 Tim. 4:16). When he confronts sin, he must rebuke it. When he faces false teaching, he must be courageous. In all things, the true preacher knows that he answers to God first, and is not in the business of pleasing men (cf. Gal. 1:10).
 
But there's another side to this. Sometimes, in our fervor to "preach it like it is," we overstep our God-given boundaries. In the name of hard preaching, it is easy to "go past Jerusalem" and start getting downright mean. In order to win arguments and make ourselves look good, it is tempting to ridicule those who are in opposition to us. We can become rude, unkind, and abusive. Sarcasm (or better, irony), may have a proper place, but not when it is at the expense of gentleness, love, and respect. We can become careless in how we speak to others, and about others with whom we disagree. We may even begin to thrive on being offensive. We boast about our little debating techniques: "Did you see how I got him?" But this is a manifestation of self-righteousness and, ironically, shows a disregard for God and His Word.
 
How so? Because, while in stressing certain commands and steadfastly exercising our duty to reprove and rebuke, we may ignore other commands. We are to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). Our speech is to be "with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person" (Col. 4:6). We are to be kind and tenderhearted, forgiving, and devoid of bitterness, wrath, anger, and clamor (Eph. 4:31-32). With those in opposition, we are to correct with gentleness (2 Tim. 2:25). These are just as much commands of God as any other! To ignore these in the name of "sound" preaching is not only Pharisaical, it is just plain sinful. Contending for the faith does not equal being contentious and ugly.
 
Just remember, there is a difference between kind and mushy, between graceful speech and that which compromises truth. We need to learn these differences if we will really be faithful servants of God. The spirit in which we do something is every bit a part of the doctrine of Christ as those more difficult issues that we so often struggle with. Teach the truth, but let's do it in the way God has told us to do it. Keep the balance.

 

By Warren E. Berkley
The Front Page
From Expository Files 12.1; January 2005

 

 

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