Gospel Preaching 25

I Corinthians 2:2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.
3 I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, 4 and 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.

It is the devil, it is the world, it is our flesh that are raging and raving against us. Therefore, dear sirs and brethren, pastors and preachers, pray, read, study, be diligent. Truly, this evil, shameful time is not the season for being lazy, for sleeping and snoring. Use the gift that has been entrusted to you, and reveal the mystery of Christ. (Martin Luther)

I attended a church in a small town not far (30 miles or so) from where I live. The pastor of the church was not preaching and had an assistant “preach” for him. It was truly a sad occasion to watch the opposite of Gospel preaching take place. People gather at a church (in name or in reality) and Gospel preaching needs to happen.

There was quite a bit of historical background, but the vast majority of that was of no use in the “lecture.” If the historical background is not used to get at the intent of the text and then lead to or directly manifest Christ, it is really time wasted. While the historical background can be of use in certain ways, it can also be nothing more than a waste of time and certainly that was the case this morning. It was sad to see so much of the time for a sermon used up in information that had no direct relevance to the lecture.

Second, there were a lot of personal stories, but nothing of the biblical Christ. We heard a lot of things about people and how people are hurting and how people need to be helped, but there was nothing about how Christ alone can truly help people. We heard so much about physical problems and so on, but we did not hear of how Christ saves sinners nor did we hear of how it is Christ who works to make His people grow.

Third, the message was given with tears at times, but shedding tears is not the same as proclaiming Christ. There were several songs sang, and some of the songs were glorious in their proclamation of Christ and the blood of Christ. This is to say that the shedding of tears over things that came up in the lecture should have happened during the singing of such theological truths. The songs were full of Christ and the cross of Christ, but the “preaching” was empty of Christ and the cross of Christ. Preachers can feel things deeply and can be deeply moved at what they are saying, but apart from Christ they are not preaching Christ or in the case this morning there was no preaching at all.

Fourth, there was nothing of the nature of sin mentioned, though there might have been mentioned something about destructive behaviors. The problem of sin is so deep that even if a person modifies his or her behavior, they are modifying their behavior for sinful reasons. The real issue that needs to be addressed about sin is not particular sins, but of the sinful nature. People don’t need behavior modification, they need new hearts. But again, we were hearing stories and a few times something about destructive behavior. But we did not hear a thing about the sinful nature of human beings and of regeneration.

Fifth, the things that were mentioned were stressed apart from Christ. True, men need to be humbled. True, men must have faith in order to be saved. But there is no faith apart from Christ. Christ is the only proper object of true faith, so if one is stressing a false faith and does not speak of it as being focused on Christ, then it is false teaching on faith. Not only that, but faith and humility were spoken of as things that are in the power of man and that by attaining them man can get what he wants from God. It was also said that when bad things happen, if we will humble ourselves and have faith God will remove those bad things. In other words, if we will humble ourselves and come up with faith God will take away the bad things and good things will happen.

Nothing was said in this “sermon” about the sovereignty of God and how He uses “bad things” to break our hearts and make us content in all things. Nothing was said that had anything to do with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His kingdom in His people. The old hymns speak much of Christ and the Gospel, but new preachers don’t even try to preach as well as the songs we sing. God has withdrawn His Spirit from the Church as seen by the lack of Gospel preaching. If there is no Gospel, there is no church.

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