Is There a Place for Preaching?

not listening-tagged

Why some won’t listen

Have you ever heard someone say, “Don’t preach to me!” or “I don’t mean to sound like I’m preaching, but . . . .”?

Preaching is not always appreciated. Sometimes this is due to those who fail to practice what they preach. And at times preaching may come across as self-righteous, egotistic.

But perhaps the major reason preaching is not always welcome is that there is within many of us the attitude, “Nobody’s gonna tell ME what to do!”

This rebellious inner self, the Bible says, must be put aside. In its place there must be childlike humility. God calls us to yield control of our lives to Him and make Christ our Lord in every area of our life.

If our beliefs are false or we’re not living right, and the preacher tells us we’re wrong, isn’t he really doing us a tremendous favor, even if it hurts at the time? “Have I therefore become your enemy by telling you the truth?” Paul asks (Galatians 4:16).

Paul himself, at one time the violent persecutor of the church, had to learn the shocking truth that he had been working against God when he sincerely thought he was doing God’s will. He had to learn how wrong he was before he could get right. And so must we.

Why it makes sense to listen

If the preacher is true to the message God has revealed in His word, then resisting the message is resisting God Himself (Luke 10:16). The preacher is simply the messenger.

Balanced preaching contains both positive and negative and is geared to the needs of the hearers. It has often been said that preaching should comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. Sometimes we need to be afflicted.

Paul urged Timothy to “preach the word . . . reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” Paul then warns that people will reject unpalatable truth and turn instead to those who will tell them what they want to hear (2 Timothy 4:2-4). Doesn’t this happen in our day—a lot?

So what do we want? Pleasant words that make us feel good and never bad, or the truth that we so desperately need?

To receive the marvelous blessings of salvation we must be willing to repent by changing our minds and renouncing our sins, then humbly submitting to God’s gracious will (Acts 2:36-38; 22:16).

If it’s really the truth, can we afford to accept anything else?

 

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

Please share this post!

david_gibson6@yahoo.com

“What is Truth?”

How we view truth

One of the characteristics of our culture is the belief that truth is relative—what’s true for you may not be true for me. If that’s the case, then neither you nor I have the right to say what anyone else should believe or do.

Certainly there are some areas of life which are subjective. For example, two people eat the very same food. One thinks it tastes great, while the other can’t stand it. So who’s right? Isn’t this simply a matter of personal preference? There is no objective standard in such cases.

How we view morality

But does it work the same way in morality? Does each of us determine what’s right or wrong, as we see it? Or is there a universal moral standard?

For instance, is it wrong to have sexual relations outside of marriage? Many today do not think so, while others do. So which is right? Who decides?

Even if we do not accept the Bible as God’s inspired truth applicable to all people in every era, we are still forced to conclude that the Bible limits sex relations to the marital union of a man and a woman. “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4; see Genesis 1:27; 2:18-24).

How we view the Bible

Either the Bible is God’s word or it isn’t. If it isn’t, then it’s merely a human document we can do with as we wish. But if it is God’s word, are we wise to disregard it?

Paul wrote, “. . . we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

How we view Jesus

Likewise with Christ. Either He is who He claimed to be, the Son of God, or He isn’t. He can’t be both.

If He isn’t, then we don’t need to follow Him. If He is, then how can we ignore Him?

One of Jesus’ claims is this: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” (John 14:6).

What a bold statement! Now either it’s the truth or it’s a lie. Which? If true, then how can we consider all world religions as alternate paths to God?

One doesn’t have to be a narrow-minded bigot to affirm that the Bible claims there is only one way to God, and that way is through Jesus.

If that’s the truth, then who has the right to say otherwise?

truth-tagged

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

Please share this post!

david_gibson6@yahoo.com

“I Think . . . .”

During her last semester before graduating from high school, Amy took a course in the New Testament. Probably not too many public schools offer Bible classes, but hers did.

Opposite approaches

At various times during the semester the teacher would ask what the Bible says about such and such. One male student tended to respond by saying, “Well, I think . . .” and he would give his opinion.

Among the issues discussed were whether one can fall from grace and whether baptism is essential to salvation. This student did not offer much if any Scripture as the basis for his assertions.

About once a week Amy responded to his “I think . . .” by saying, “The Bible says . . . .”

Good for her! She knew that what we believe must be Bible-based—and she had studied enough to be able to say, “The Bible says . . . .”

How many people twice her age can do that? Or three times her age?

Why we believe what we believe

Many people simply inherit their beliefs from parents without question, or they uncritically accept what some preacher says.

Bible study takes effort. Are we prepared to invest the time and energy required?

Also, if we discover we’ve been taught wrong, will we change our thinking to conform to Scripture?

What if we discover from our study that God expects us to make a major change in our lifestyle? Are we willing?

Or what if accepting biblical truth means we will face opposition from family and friends? Will we go with the truth, regardless?

What Bible study involves

To be effective, Bible study requires that we: 1) love the truth, and 2) diligently search the Scriptures (2 Thessalonians 2:8-12; Acts 17:10-12).

The goal of Bible study is not simply to accumulate knowledge but: 1) to learn what God expects us to do so we can do it, and 2) to share what we’ve learned with others (James 1:22-25; Ezra 7:10; 2 Timothy 2:2).

People like Amy are in the minority. Many don’t know what the Bible says. Many don’t care.

So, Amy, keep on saying, “The Bible says . . .” and you’ll enlighten those who love the truth as you do, but who also need your help to find the Way.

questioning-tagged

Please share this post!

david_gibson6@yahoo.com

 

Why Some Reject the Truth

Root causes

Isaac McNally and I were discussing why some people refuse the evidence for faith and choose not to believe. He made the point that no matter how effectively we present the reasons for belief, nothing we might say will persuade those who have closed their ears to the truth. Why not?

While only God sees the deepest motives of the heart, and we cannot know in every case why someone refuses to believe, Scripture does reveal some root causes.

Jesus said, “Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father the devil” (John 8:43-44).

There are those who “loved darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil” (John 3:19-20).

Paul warned of those “who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18), “who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness” (2 Thessalonians 2:12), and who “will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

What it all comes down to

Some reject faith because they do not want to be accountable to anyone. They wish to do as they please, thinking that submitting to God means losing their freedom.

Yes, we must renounce our own sins if we wish to be saved—that’s repentance. But in reality, going God’s way is greatly to our advantage, while stubbornly remaining in unbelief leads to a destination where we do not wish to go (Matthew 7:13-14).

So it all comes down to this: Which do we love: our sins or the truth that can save our souls?

refusal-tagged

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

Please share this post!

david_gibson6@yahoo.com

The Book

If you’re like me you have stacks of things lying around you’d like to read, but may never get around to. There just isn’t enough time.

So we are forced to be selective—not just because there is more than we can possibly digest, but also because there is so much not worth reading. Literally anything is available these days—from the uplifting to the ugly.

There are books, and there is THE BOOK. What separates the Bible from all other literature is its divine origin. It is God’s message through human agents inspired by the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21).

People who loved truth

A man from Ethiopia was reading the Old Testament as he traveled toward his home. “Do you understand what you are reading?” a stranger asked him. “Well, how could I,” he replied, “unless someone guides me?” Having said this, he invited Philip to join him on his journey. Beginning with Isaiah 53, the passage which had puzzled the traveler, Philip “preached Jesus to him.” As a result he became a Christian before the day was over—and “went on his way rejoicing” (Acts 8:26-39).

A few chapters later Paul preaches in a synagogue in Berea. “Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11). They neither rejected nor accepted what Paul said without investigating. When they compared Paul’s words with God’s word, they saw the two lined up perfectly. So they believed.

Do we investigate?

Many people never check out the preaching they hear. But while some preach truth, others preach error (2 Timothy 4:1-4). Do we love the truth enough to investigate until we find the answer?

What if all of us were to resolve to spend less time with social media/TV and more time in the Bible? What difference, do you suppose, would that make in our lives?

truth not lies-tagged

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

Please share this post!

david_gibson6@yahoo.com

 

Of Doctrine and Landing Places

A Christian invited his neighbor to visit the congregation where he and his family worship. The man explained that his wife was raised in a particular denomination, but he said, “I’m ‘non-denom.’ I believe in God, but beyond that I don’t want to get involved in all those rules and details. I believe in God, and we’ll just leave it at that. We’re going to visit several churches, and wherever we like it, we’re going to land.”

Suppose this fellow accepts the invitation. He and his family visit and are impressed with the warm welcome, the children’s classes, and the preacher’s message. Let’s say that after a few more visits he and his wife decide this is where they will “land.” What then?

What they would learn

Someone will likely sit down with them, with an open Bible. If what follows is really a Bible study, it shouldn’t be long until it gets into some “details”—such as:

>The Bible is our only authority in religion.

>Jesus is the Son of God and our only way to God.

>Repentance is a requirement for salvation.

>Baptism is the moment at which we are forgiven.

>The church must conform to the New Testament pattern.The church Jesus purchased with His blood was established long before denominations.

How they would respond

If the teacher of this study is really “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15), and if this couple are convicted by the Scriptures, they would then be willing to become true disciples of Jesus Christ─Christians only.

On the other hand, they may quickly decide this is not the place for them—too many “details”—and then resume their search for a landing place.

Do they genuinely want the truth (Acts 17:10-12)? Or are they simply religious consumers in search of what they want (2 Timothy 4:1-4)?

How this scenario turned out, I don’t know, but we can be sure of this: Regarding the doctrine we are to believe and practice, as revealed in Scripture, “God is in the details” and therefore discounting these details as dispensable or optional is not an option.

Bible on desk-tagged

Please share this post!

david_gibson6@yahoo.com

There is Such a Thing as False

There is falsehood . . .

Several English words begin with the prefix pseud- from a Greek word meaning “false.” A pseudointellectual pretends he is smarter than he is. A pseudonym disguises the author’s true identity.

The New Testament, written in Greek, uses several pseud- words: false Christs (pseudokristos), false apostles (pseudapostolos), false prophets (pseudoprophētēs), false teachers (pseudodidaskalos).

These are Satan’s agents, deceiving those who fall for their lies, so they will be lost (2 Thessalonians 2:8-12).

And there is truth!

Like the Bereans (Acts 17:10-12), let’s use the Scriptures to compare what we hear with what God has already revealed as the truth.

It is the truth that saves (John 8:32).  “. . . no lie (pseudos) is of the truth” (1 John 2:21).

Beware of the pseuds!

true false-tagged

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

Please share this post!

david_gibson6@yahoo.com