Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Five things that are killing the Restoration Movement: #2, Relevant Preaching

One might assume from my first article and opening salvo aimed at the eldership that I am merely a disgruntled preacher who's been fired once too many times (I'm up to four actually, and currently no congregation will apparently have me). May this point lay such nonsense to rest.

Let's go back to Ephesians 4:11 again. What did God give for the building up of the church? God gave “some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers.” Therefore, let's spend a little time discussing the paid ministers whose deeds and discourses are just as effectively crippling the church as anemic elders.

I have labeled this Restoration Movement-killing trend as “Relevant Preaching,” so let me start there. The term “relevant” means bearing upon or relating to the matter at hand; pertinent; to the point. As it is being applied in the churches today, it has come to refer to preaching which is relevant to the lives of the people the congregation serves. Modern preachers have become multi-talented public speakers, using whatever it takes to reach their audience. Whether it be a Powerpoint presentation or a poignant story, side-splitting humor or practical application, today's preacher goes the extra mile to make his point!

Thus the problem. Can anyone imagine any of the apostles warming up their crowds with a few jokes? Christ's men weren't (and aren't) public speakers, but servants who have been chosen for their willingness to endure hardship as they go to often unwilling listeners and declare, “Thus saith the Lord!” “You shall speak all these words to them, but they will not listen to you; and you shall call to them, but they will not answer you” (Jeremiah 7:27).

Our Bible colleges must share the blame, as they teach our young men all the appropriate methods with which to stay in touch with the culture. How interesting that Jesus spent ZERO time teaching methodology. In fact, the only time the word “method” is used in the Bible (Greek, methodeia) is in Ephesians 6:11 referring to the “schemes (methods) of the devil.” Jesus didn't endorse methods, He endorsed truth! “Sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is truth” (John 17:17).

The difference between modern preaching and Bible preaching is the difference between flesh and Spirit. Today's preacher works to please the people and perpetuate the paycheck. The Bible preacher works to please God, whether or not he ever receives a paycheck. The truth of this is easy to discern. How many of your preachers are speaking about heaven rather than earth? How many of them regularly speak of holy and righteous living? How many of them are pleading with their audiences to die to self and live for God? Instead, what we see are sermons taken from the latest Christian bestsellers. We hear series of messages on how to live well on this earth, and none about preparing for the next. The itching ears are being thoroughly scratched!

Folks, as a preacher it's not my job to do your job. My task is to tell you what God said. It's your responsibility to apply that to your own life. If I tell you what God says … and then apply it to your life … I have effectively bypassed the work of the Holy Spirit. Thus Paul says, “My message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, [5] so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:4-5).

It is in their efforts to be “relevant” that contemporary preachers show their true colors and abject failure. Again, the term “relevant” means bearing upon or relating to the matter at hand; pertinent; to the point. The matter at hand though isn't man, but Christ. It isn't earth, but heaven. By preaching relevant sermons, today's speakers magnify the natural rather than the supernatural. They do the exact opposite of what Jesus intended.

I know this to be true, because the Holy Spirit's job – per Christ's own words – was that “He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8). Interesting. Sin, righteousness and judgment … three topics we never hear preached today. But wait! If the Spirit came to convict us of sin, righteousness and judgment … and preachers aren't preaching sin, righteousness and judgment … then by what spirit are they preaching? Hmmm …

This is why I say that relevant preaching is killing the Restoration Movement. In fact, in keeping with the title of said movement, why aren't we restoring the Spirit's teaching from Ephesians 4:11? The modern preacher does nothing more than perpetuate the established institution. We need less pulpit preachers, office administrators and internet junkies, and more evangelists out in in the highways and the byways.

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