Being paid to study and teach the Bible has to be the BEST job in the world! Seriously, think about it. You spend hours and hours praying, reading, studying and teaching the Word of God and at the end of month, someone hands you a check for doing that? How wonderful is that? Hey, if you are wondering – that’s my job and I love it! I don’t love it for the money (though I need the money to pay some bills and care for my family). I’ve got a wife and two kids and lots of other responsibilities. I need the money and I am thankful that I do get paid. But you know what, even if I wasn’t getting paid, I would find a way to keep doing what I am doing and care for my family at the same time. Like, Paul, I could go tent-making or something like that. I would do anything if I had to – thankfully I don’t – for now anyway and I praise the Lord for such mercy and grace to me and my family!
As a minister of the gospel, there is no subject that interests me more than the preaching. I am not just interested in a “fanciful” manner, but I am captivated by this subject because it sums up God’s call upon my life this side of heaven. But it’s not just preaching in general that interests me. Rather it is Christ who is to be the Grand Theme and Subject of all faithful preaching! I am not only called to preach. I am called to “preach Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 1:23). “…We do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord…” 2 Cor. 4:5). All true preaching is Christ-centered, and all Christ-centered preaching is true preaching. There are no two ways about it! Those who are committed to the faithful exposition of Scripture will necessarily preach Christ because all of the Scriptures testify about Him (Luke 24:25-27,44-48; John 5:39).
Sadly, there is a dearth of preaching in our day. Many are the pulpits which have been severely afflicted and inflicted by this terminal disease. We do not lack “preachers” capable of giving interesting talks, moral advice or motivational speeches. There are plenty of those around – everywhere you turn! But faithful, Christ-centered preachers! Oh, no! Those are scarce! Only a few of them are still standing! I think the sign below needs to be hang on just about every church door today.
William Still in his book entitled, The Work of The Pastor writes: “…If the hope of the world is Christ, it is Christ in all the Scriptures, and that hope can only be fulfilled by men pouring out the riches of Christ’s saving grace upon the Lord’s people through the Scriptures” (p. 93)
Why then is there such a dearth of faithful, Christ-centered preaching in our day? Well, that’s a very good question. Many reasons can be given as to why this is the case. But one thing is for certain, there has been a great lost of confidence in Scriptures among both preachers and hearers as Alistair Begg points out in his book, Preaching for God’s Glory (pages 18-19):
The absence of expository preaching is directly related to an erosion of confidence in the authority of and sufficiency of Scripture. At the beginning of the nineteenth the battle lines were drawn against the forces of liberalism. Liberals were challenging the miraculous, questioning the divine, and opposing the historicity of the New Testament documents. Evangelicals weathered that storm, and empty liberal churches testify to the futility of the liberal quest for a demythologized Christ. But today the battle is more subtle. The Scriptures are neglected and debased and are used only as a springboard for all kinds of “talks” that are far removed from genuine biblical exposition…There is little, if any, sense of either the preacher or the congregation bowing under the majestic authority of God’s written Word.
I couldn’t agree more! Let me end this post by asking you to do three things in light of what I have shared here:
First, pray with me that the Lord will raise up a new generation of preachers who will not be afraid or ashamed to preach the “whole counsel of God” and point people to the Lord Jesus Christ in every sermon.
Secondly, pray for your pastors that by God’s grace and the working of God’s Holy Spirit they may be kept faithful and true to their calling. In my view, that is the best way to keep your ministers accountable before God and their congregations.
Secondly, pray for me also that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel…that I may proclaim it clearly and boldly, as I should (see Ephesians 6:19-20; Colossians 4:3-4). Thank you!
For more on this, please click on this link: Contending for the Faith in America.
I also recommend the following additional resources:
In my previous post, I wrote of the importance of reading Christian biographies. What I plan to do over the next few days is to share some of the biographies which the Lord has used to inspire, challenge and teach me over the years. Typically, I will do this every Monday, but for this week, I will share some of them with you in between the other posts praying that the Lord will be pleased to use them to bless you too even as He has used them to blessed me.
I will start with William Wilberforce. I do so simply because my wife and I just finished re-watching the movie Amazing Grace (released in 2006) which is based on Wilberforce particularly on his fight for the abolition of slave trade in Great Britain. If you have high-speed internet, you can watch this movie for FREE online.
Eric Metaxas as well as John Piper wrote wonderful biographies on William Wilberforce. I highly commend them to you. The one by Metaxas is entitled, Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery. Piper’s is entitled, Amazing Grace in the Life of William Wilberforce. I hope you will get a copy of one or both of these for yourself.
William Wilberforce was a man of great courage, tenacity and endurance. Though there were discouraging moments in his life when he would have been tempted to give up the “fight,” he courageously kept on fighting for his cause and the Lord granted him success in the end. He was blessed to have people like John Newton by his side encouraging him to keep going. The move to abolish slave trade was near and dear to Newton’s heart as well. For many years, he was the captain of an African slave ship. He lived a very grotesque life steeped in sin. But by the grace of God, he was later converted and became a minister of the very gospel he once despised. He authored the famous hymn, Amazing Grace whose melody (some believe) was taken from a West African sorrow chant which some of the slaves on Newton’s ship would have sung. Watch Wintley Phipps talk about that in this video below:
In Revelation 13 John warns of a terrible beast who is allowed to make war on God’s people. Saints will be taken captive and destroyed. That’s the reality John outlines in verse 10. But the response to such antagonism is not to retreat but to entrench. “Here is a call for the endurance and the faith of the saints.” Some of us may be called to accomplish great things in the cause of Christ like Wilberforce. Others will be called to endure great trials and suffering and even persecution on account of Christ. All of us, in a world often unfriendly and unsympathetic to genuine Christian faith, are called to perseverance and faithfulness. There is no hope, no holiness, and no influence without it.
Praise the Lord for His amazing grace given to us through Jesus Christ.
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace those fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believed!
Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.