Thursday, February 7, 2013

the powerless pulpit

Oswald's words the other morning were of great comfort and encouragement when he said,
Get back to the foundation of the Cross of Christ, doing away with any belief not based on it. In secular history the Cross is an infinitesimally small thing, but from the biblical perspective it is of more importance than all the empires of the world. If we get away from dwelling on the tragedy of God on the Cross in our preaching, our preaching produces nothing. It will not transmit the energy of God to man; it may be interesting, but it will have no power. However, when we preach the Cross, the energy of God is released. “. . . it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. . . . we preach Christ crucified . . .” (1 Corinthians 1:21, 23).
Pastors or more than public speakers. Presenting material in an interesting and understandable way may be part of the office of preaching, but it is not the part that makes it unique. Public speakers and presenters of all breeds must be interesring, whinsome, and engaging. At least they must be if they want to make a living at doing it. This is perhaps why so many pulpits are filled with used car salesmen. They are able to talk and to persuade and to rivet. They know the particlar itches of the ears of their hearers. They smell blood in the water like sharks. They congregate and devour whole households for the sake of feeding their own egos and pockets.
The power of God is fully expressed in the preaching of His Good News.
When an audience gathers and directs their attention toward the pulpit, the pastor's primary concern should be to allow God's power to be made manifest by preaching His Good News. If the pastor is primarly concerned with meeting the audience where they are and entertaining them, the power of God will be traded for the spoils of men's adoration.
If pastors are only entertainers, they will survive only as long as they remain worth the price of admission, and the Cross of Christ will become only a means to an end that is easily and readily abandoned if its weekly proclamation sees less and less response.
Numbers don't lie, but they do help liars.
Over a half-century ago, Donald Grey Barnhouse, pastor of Philadelphia's Tenth Presbyterian Church, gave his CBS radio audience a picture of what it would look like if Satan took control of a town in America. He said that all of the bars and pool halls would be closed, pornography banished, pristine streets and sidewalks would be occupied by tidy pedestrians who smiled at each other. There would be no swearing. The kids would answer "Yes, sir," "No, ma'am," and the churches would be full on Sunday ... where Christ is not preached.
Satan loves moral people who keep Jesus at arm's length.
The Bible is a very interesting book with a large catalog of stories from which to draw morals.
But the Bible is not about the moral of the story producing merely a moral people.
The Bible is about Jesus.
His coming.
His dying.
His resurrection.
His ascension.
His return.

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