Nature of True Preaching 3

It was an intoxicating prospect. Would not social effort, reinforced by all the resources of technology, speedily bring the New Jerusalem down to earth from heaven? Surely the wilderness wanderings of the children of men were over, and the path of progress must now lead straight and unbroken to the shining Utopia of their dreams. The Renaissance humanists and the ancient sophists had been perfectly right; man was indeed the measure of all things. His will was the architect of destiny. His intelligence, storming the secrets of the universe, had occupied the throne of God. “Thou art smitten, thou God,” shouted Swinburne vociferously, “thou are smitten; thy death is upon thee, O Lord. And the love-song of earth as thou divest resounds through the wind of her wings—Glory to Man in the highest! For Man is the master of things.” (James Stewart, Heralds of God)

The following was written several years ago when there was a more stated hope in what man could accomplish. However, this is still at the heart (though subdued some) of many if not most of people. If they do not share the optimism of humanists and how we are going to make great progress and usher in new eras, they do share in the thought of what man is. This is precisely what drives most of modern ways of thinking. The Bible teaches us clearly that man is at enmity with God and that man hates God and longs for God to be anything other than the sovereign ruler of all things. Man, in his enormous pride and love of self, strives after self and after ways of bringing God down to the level of man.

Preachers must know that they are to speak for the true God and go after the thoughts of man that rise against the living God whether by man’s own heart or the deception of the evil one. Man is constantly at war with the will of God by asserting his own will moment by moment. Man, since the fall, wants to determine his own way by his own wisdom and his own knowledge. Man wants to determine his daily life as well as his eternal destiny. True preaching must attack those by speaking the truth of who God is and the truth of who man is. Men are always at war with God regarding who God is and who they are, so true preaching must always exalt God and seek to humble man.

When we view churches in our day and the so-called preaching that comes from the pulpits (or stands or lecterns or…) we are assaulted with the diminishing of God and the exaltation of man. It is true that these are ways that will increase attendance and the offerings, but those are pitiful substitutes for the presence of the living God. How men are exalted at the expense of the glory of God in sermon after sermon and program after program, but God is really and truly sovereign. If we refuse to preach the absolute sovereignty of God, we are allowing for the modern way of thinking to hold sway over the people. We deal with people in the churches today who worship and unknown God. The living and true God is the One that we must sing and preach “Glory to God in the highest” and may man be humbled in the dust that they may behold His glory.

It seems as if modern preachers can only give intellectual sermons or non-intellectual ones as they either appeal to the intellect of people or they appeal to those driven by feelings. Knowledge puffs up and as such sermons that appeal to the intellect only will produce proud hearers. Sermons that appeal to the feelings of people try to move them with sob stories and motives of impending doom if they do not do what the preacher says. True preaching exalts God to the mind and to the heart. True preaching will not want men to get fired up at the expense of truth as that leads to false conversions. Either way, however, whether the preaching is intellectual only or feelings only, the real issue is that man is being treated as the measure of all things.

Arminian evangelistic preaching, for example, will play on the feelings of people and get them to pray a prayer or come down an aisle. What the Arminian evangelist is doing is to place men at the center of it all and treat them as if they determine their own destiny and that they are their own master. This could not be much farther from the truth. God is sovereign and on His throne. He must save sinners and all things are focused on Him. He intends all things for His own glory and true preaching will take that into account and preach that way. God is absolutely sovereign and does all things according to the counsel of His own will, which is to say that man is not in charge and man is not the architect of his own destiny in this life or in eternity. True preaching must always seek to exalt God and put man in his place. If not, humanism will reign in the absence of true preaching.

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