Ignorance of an Ordinary Means of Grace: Preaching

16 Oct

Peter Preaching

I remember hearing a missionary once explain how the church must change, and that part of that change was no longer preaching the Word of God.  Younger people, he explained, do not have an interest in preaching, and so, if we want to see the church continue, we must change with the times.  And while I understood what he was saying, and in many ways could empathize with his concerns, I completely disagreed with him.

Rationally, it makes no sense for someone to say, “The church needs to stop preaching because younger generations aren’t interested in it.”  For one, just because someone does not like something does not mean that it should be discarded.  A parent does not look at their child and say, “Well, Johnny doesn’t like discipline, or vegetables, or getting dressed, so I guess I will just get rid of those things.” That’s ridiculous!  Likewise, a lack of interest in preaching does not necessitate getting rid of it.

But lets think about this question of interest.  Why are younger people not interested in preaching?  I think there are (at least) four reasons:

1. The unregenerate heart lacks an interest in God’s revealed Word (this is true in any generation)
2. Some preachers and preaching are lacking in skillful exposition that points to the Gospel and application to the hearer’s life
3. Self-centeredness wants nothing to do with someone else teaching and confronting us with the truths of Scripture (or anyone teaching anything for that matter)
4. It is not entertaining (or, put positively, it is boring)

Some of these are valid concerns for those who preach.  Yet, the public proclamation of God’s Word and how it comes to bear on our lives is crucial:

1. It is a means of grace by which God regenerates the hearts of men and women
2. It is a means of grace by which God sustains and sanctifies believers (confronting our sins and encouraging us with the Gospel)
3. It is a means of grace by which God provokes believers to action in the world for the good of his fellow man and the glory of God

Part of the problem is that we have succumbed to the pressures of pragmatism.  Much like Charles Finney, the 19th Century preacher, we have come to believe that one must only apply the rights methods to bring about conversion.  This has led to constant change and chaos in church practice and ministry.

Another part of the problem is that we have lost a sense of the way in which God uses ordinary things to reveal and dispense His grace.  It is humbling to submit ourselves to the preaching of Scripture, trusting that God is actively working through it to save the lost and sanctify His sons and daughters.  

Just as I do not fear that the church will die out (because Christ declared that it would not), I do not have to fear preaching, because God will use it to accomplish just what He purposed it for.   As Romans 10:13-14 states:

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed?  And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching.  

And 2 Timothy 4:1-5:

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word, be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.  For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.  As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

But that is enough ramblings for today…





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