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Tuesday, December 03, 2013

The Foolishness Of Preaching

In 1 Corinthians 1:18-21 we have set forth God's method for moving men.  Central to that method is preaching!  Preaching has fallen upon hard times.  Preaching and sermonizing has taken on a negative connotation in the minds of many.  The negativity associated with it has caused many to look for other methods of moving men.

Looking back over the last two decades one does not need a very good memory to think of “Christian” fads that have come and gone.

The Jesus film project
Prayer of Jabez
Left Behind series
The Passion – Mel Gibson
The Bible – TV mini-series
A transition to small group bible studies
A group of people sit around a table drinking coffee and eating donuts discussing a passage if perchance they might come to some consensus of what it says, what it means, and how it is to be applied.

All of these things we were told at the time were causing a great stir among evangelicals and the world.  The unchurched especially were to be reached through things like the Left Behind series and The Passion.  The transition to small bible study groups is supposed to be the panacea that brings about revival and maturity in believers and provides a comfortable atmosphere for the unchurched to participate.

Christianity has turned to grasping in the dark for something to move people.  Christianity is in pursuit of the next religious fad that comes along no doubt hoping that this will be the one, and no doubt we will be told over and over again that it is. This new method or packaging of the message will produce revival in the church and bring the lost to Christ.  Christianity is now the person in the room that keeps changing clothes in order to make themselves more attractive and the whole time everyone is snickering under their breath.  The world is snickering under their breath today at Christianity.  How do I know this because they do not take it seriously?  Unfortunately, most would rather endure their snickering rather than their sneering.  In the pursuit of a fashionable Christianity we are forsaking the very things that make for a strong Christianity.  One element of that equation is preaching.

In looking for something that works we surrender the moral high ground.  The focus has transitioned from the glory of God to pacifying men.

There has been over the last 20 years or so a movement away from preaching.  The cancelling of services has more to do with preaching than just about anything else.  Preachers who don’t have that fire in their bones to proclaim and people who are content to have it so.  Jeremiah 5:30,31 - A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land;  The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?

You will notice in verse 18 God said the preaching of the cross is foolishness to them that perish.  Both the method and the message are often seen as foolish to them that perish.  Let me ask you?  If someone considers preaching to be foolish then what does that say about them?

In verse 21 the bible says that it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them which believe.  Here the emphasis is clearly on the method.

In verse 25 we are reminded that the foolishness of God is wiser than men.  So we are to conclude that what men deem to be beneath them is actually above them.  In other words if you want to start with the premise that God’s method of preaching is foolishness, then his foolishness excels man’s wisdom.

Then in verse 27 we are informed that God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise.

There needs to be a wholesale reconsideration of the purpose, value, and importance of preaching.

1.       Preaching is God’s ordained means!   Titus 1:1-3
Preaching has to do with the Word!  Preaching is declaring the word of God.  It is a declaration!  It is not a pitch for consensus but an all out effort to render apparent the a text of scripture.

2.      The purpose of preaching!   Nehemiah 8:8
Preaching is reading in the book of the law distinctly, giving the sense, and causing the congregation to understand the reading!  It is also worthy of note that Nehemiah stood upon a pulpit of wood!   Nehemiah 8:4  We should be careful about to much casualness being introduced into our preaching, whether it be through dress or language.  The preaching does not just communicate through the message but through the choice of language and the choice of attire.

3.      Preaching is intended to be divinely powerful.  1 Corinthians 2:4
Preaching is not to be enticing words of man’s wisdom. Preaching is not first and foremost an intellectual pursuit.  It is not about oratory!  Preaching should be a demonstration that is a  manifestation of the Spirit and of power.

Isaiah 61:1 - The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
Acts 10:38 - How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.
Psalms 29:3 - The voice of the LORD is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the LORD is upon many waters.
Psalms 18:13 - The LORD also thundered in the heavens, and the Highest gave his voice; hail stones and coals of fire.

 Could it be that when a man is anointed of the Spirit that there will be rumbling in the pulpit?  Is the God who speaks with a voice of thunder destined to choose men who are unable or unwilling to be a fitting mouthpiece?  The fact is if we want to hear the voice of God in preaching would should expect and desire to hear a little thunder come rolling out of the pulpit!

4.  The passion of preaching!  1 Corinthians 15:14
All preaching should be given its passion by the reality that Jesus is alive!  Ours is a living faith.  Ours is a faith that changes lives.  Ours is a faith of life.  Consequently preaching should have life in it!  It should not be a dry, dull corpse of dusty truth, but rather a lively, energetic presentation of relevant truth!

5.  Preaching is to be uncompromising!   2 Timothy 4:1-4
Vs: 1 - Preaching comes with a solemn charge
The charge is presented before God and the Lord Jesus Christ

 Vs: 2 – The elements of sound preaching.
Preach the word.  Be instant.  Reprove.  Rebuke. Exhort.  With longsuffering and doctrine!

Vs: 3,4 – The people will seek teachers.
The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine. They will heap to themselves teachers, not preachers.  Everybody is a bible teacher today.  Bible teaching has it place.  But we need some bible preachers!  They have ears that want to be tickled.

Vs: 5 – The preaching is to continue!

6.      Preaching is warning!  Colossians 1:28,29
There is to be an element of warning in all preaching.  There is to be an element of teaching in all preaching.  There is to be an element of pressing for change in all preaching.  There is to be an element of labor in all preaching.

7.      Preaching promotes change!  Matthew 12:41
Preaching should produce repentance!  All preaching is about getting men to repent.  The very premise of preaching begins with the idea that we are not what we should be.  Preaching sets out to correct that.  It does so by proclaiming God’s truth and drawing the contrast between what we are and what we should be.  If you don’t want to change and you are satisfied with how you are then you don’t want to go to a preaching church.  If you want to be better and know you have a ways to go then you will want to attend a preaching church.

8.      Preaching establishes people!  Romans 16:25
To stablish someone is to set fast, i.e. (literally) to turn resolutely in a certain direction.  Preaching is intended to drive truth home to the heart.  It is meant to leave truth deeply impressed on us.  Platitudes may sound nice but they do not produce change.  They may draw a crowd and if that was our primary objective that would be wonderful.  Our primary objective is to be faithful to God and leave the numbers to God.  Platitudes produce pliant people while preaching produces powerful people!

9.   Do not despise long preaching!  Acts 20:7-12
Paul preached till midnight!  The bible say "as Paul was long in preaching"!  Bible lovers should not come to church to get out! Much of modern day preaching it is a great mercy that it lasts no longer than it does.  When we have the opportunity to sit under Spirit anointed preaching that is lively, vigorous, and challenging and thunders with the voice of God form the pulpit we should come with a huge cup willing to spend the time required to see it filled!

Psalms 40:9
Luke 3:18
John the Baptist that transitional figure from the OT prophet to the NT preacher.  He came out of the wilderness of Judea preaching the NT message like an OT prophet.  We need more of that today and not less!
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