Monday, January 24, 2011

The Preacher's Problem

(2 Timothy 4:1–4 NKJV) I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom:
2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.
3 For 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;
4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 
There is friction in this passage!  There is a problem for the preacher!  There is a bright light, but threatening clouds are always looming on the horizon.

Our charge before God is a bright light!  "Preach the Word!"  This is what every genuine preacher - every preacher called by God and ordained by God - wants to do with all his heart.  He wants to preach the word of God!  He wants to study it, understand it and proclaim it!  "Thus says the Lord!"

The clouds that darken our sky are the rest of the passage. 

Our hearts and the hearts of our listeners are sinful.  Sinners don't enjoy having the word of the Holy God preached.  It brings about reproof, rebuke and exhortation and these things hurt people's feelings.  Preaching the word may make people angry and the threat of their anger hangs over the preacher's head.  He is tempted to soften the message to avoid the wrath of these people.

But the preacher's job is to provide "sound doctrine."  That is doctrine that is healthy and whole.  That is doctrine that is true to the word.  That is doctrine that is actually God's doctrine - God's word - the Truth.  If we spin our message so that it won't offend people, we are not "preaching the word."  We are doctors who have watered down the medicine.  Now it doesn't taste bad, but it also won't bring a cure!

Preach the word and some people will walk away.  It happens in thousands of churches every week!  There is a huge nomadic tribe of itchy people drifting from one ecclesiastical oasis to another looking for the place that scratches their particular itch.  High church, low church, traditional music, contemporary music, stained glass, padded pews, coffee, better coffee, coffee cake, blue jeans, suits and ties... these are all just side issues...  But at the heart of everything is the matter of what is being preached.

Are people getting the unadulterated word of God or some dumbed down, eviscerated, politically correct "happy thoughts?"

The preacher's problem is that he is tied to God's word.  If he were just giving a speech, the preacher could (like a politician) say just what his audience wants to hear.  But he is not free to come up with his own message that is calculated to please.  The preacher - to really be a PREACHER - must preach the word of God - the message that God has already delivered in the Bible.
(Jeremiah 23:25–26 NKJV) ¶ “I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in My name, saying, ‘I have dreamed, I have dreamed!’
26 How long will this be in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies? Indeed they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart,

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