Friday, January 05, 2007

The Real Preacher Teaches

The Real Preacher Teaches

A pastor decided he wanted to find out how effective his sermons were with his congregations (not a true story). So he called on a consultant to help him. The consultant sat with the congregation for a few weeks to get a feeling for what was going on during the service. There were a lot of preliminaries and announcements. There was a lot of singing. People would stand and raise their hands and shout in euphoric ways. During the sermon, the congregation would react to what the Pastor was saying. The Pastor was at times funny, at other times inspirational, and at other times provocative. The consultant was confused and uncomfortable at times, because he felt he was not at church, but at a political rally, a business convention, a concert or play, or at a comedy club. This feeling deeply disturbed him. After these few weeks the consultant started interviewing a representative sample of the congregation. As the consultant overheard the people talk about the sermon, many of them said that the words confirmed a blessing God had for them, but the consultant did not hear anyone talk about how the sermon led them to a deeper understanding of Scripture, to repent of Sin or to a deeper relationship with God. The brethren said about how much they enjoyed themselves, and it showed. The sermon aroused them. But the consultant felt that the message did not move them to open their hearts to God and His truths.

The purpose of modern preaching is to arouse. It is an oration to inspire, a monologue to make you laugh and or a pep talk to motivate you. It mostly appeals to your senses. It makes you feel good, inspired, or relieved. These sermons do not open or reveal the truth hidden in the word of God. After one of these sermon’s you do not feel you know God better, convicted of Sin, nor driven to repentance. On the contrary you feel that it is Ok to live in Sin, disobeying the Word of God and rebelling against His will. You can smoke, dance, overeat, drink, adulterate (fornicate), watch and listen to all sorts of garbage that he media offers. You can harbor ill feelings against your neighbor, envy them, and covet what they have, hold a grudge against them and even insult them in the name of frankness. “Not to worry, God will bless you with that job, promotion, spouse, material blessing, physical health you so much want. He wants you to be happy and prosperous.”

Ecclesiastes is the name of the book we are studying this quarter. Many do not know that Ecclesiastes means, “the preacher.” It stands in contrast with the popular sermons of the day. In this sermon Solomon teaches us that all the pursuits of this world are vanity. Indeed, the rewards of this world are also vanity. The style is simple and direct; no preacher-ese, or oration. The message is, “these are the mistakes I made, learn from me, for it is all vanity.” A repentant Solomon wants to spare us of the emptiness and suffering of choosing not to hear God. As is as he tells us why it is not good to not follow Jesus advice, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” Matthew 6:33. If we do this, God will provide for us all those things that become vain when we pursue them. But, when God provides them they are blessings to you and to those in your sphere of influence; you give to them of what God gives to you. In contrast, today’s popular sermons say that the blessings are for you alone. Furthermore, they say these blessings are for this life, in contrast the word of God says God gives us eternal life, which we can only receive through God. This will always elude us, if we try to seek it on our own.

This expression, of Matthew 6:33, Christ used in His own Sermon of the mount. Again, the style is simple and direct. Christ sits down to speak and teaches to all those who choose to hear His Words. Christ called Himself the Good Shepherd, a pastor is a shepherd. Christ taught when He preached. Since He is our example, we know that the job of the preacher is to teach the Gospel.

The Apostle Paul when writing to the Ephesians about Spiritual gifts says to them in Ephesians 4: 11

Ephesians 4: 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

Notice that although Paul distinguishes between each gift with a semi-colon and the words “and some,” there is no separation between pastor and teacher. This can only mean one thing: in the case of “Pastors and Teachers” it is one and the same gift. Many are not aware of this. Pray for them. Do not criticize, or gossip about them. This behavior only shows an attitude of resisting God. Interceding for them opens your heart to forgive them and moves God to woo them toward Him. Remember, this can only be done with the help of the Holy Spirit.

The Special Insights web page resides at: