“I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth.” “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.” 1 John 2:21; 5:13, NKJV.
The most neglected and/or abused magic pill in world history. I love the Bible. I love the beauty of a good argument, a well-crafted story, the extended story structure that coheres in spite of all odds. It is the greatest masterpiece of all times.
It is also the power of God. When a followers of Jesus takes in the Word of God, they don’t just get information, they get power. The orthopraxy (right practice) that Brian McLaren and others so urgently presses on the church IS UTTERLY IMPOSSIBLE without a foundation of orthodoxy (right belief), which is disdained, redefined, and distorted beyond recognition by them.
The biggest tragedy in the church today is its half-hearted devotion to the Word. Pastors and teachers make casual references to it. Too many sermonettes for Christianettes.
Give me a plateful of Spurgeon anyday. Or JC Ryle. Or Bonar, McCheyne, the Puritans. Lutzer, Boice. Expositors. That means taking a verse or paragraph of Scripture and extracting its nutrients… and setting forth a feast for the Scripture-starved people of God. Week after week.
Sermons should have real teaching in them, and their doctrine should be solid, substantial, and abundant. We do not enter the pulpit to talk for talk’s sake; we have instructions to convey important to the last degree, and we cannot afford to utter pretty nothings. . . The entire gospel must be presented from the pulpit; the whole faith once delivered to the saints must be proclaimed by us. The truth as it is in Jesus must be instructively declared, so that the people may not merely hear but know the joyful sound. We serve not at the altar of “the Unknown God,” but we speak to the worshipers of him of whom it is written, “They that know Thy name will put their trust in Thee.” . . . Nothing can compensate for the absence of teaching; all the rhetoric in the world is but as chaff to the wheat in contrast to the gospel of our salvation. . . .
Rousing appeals to the affection [emotion] are excellent, but if they are not backed up by instruction they are a mere flash in the pan, powder consumed and no shot sent home. . . .
…[S]ound teaching is the best protection from the heresies which ravish right and left among us.
Sound information on Scriptural subjects your hearers crave for, and must have. Accurate explanations of Holy Scripture they are entitled to, and if you are “an interpreter, one of a thousand,” a real messenger of heaven, you will yield them plenteously. Whatever else may be present, the absence of edifying, instructive truth, like the absence of flour from bread, will be fatal. Estimated by their solid contents rather than by their superficial area, many sermons are very poor specimens of godly discourse.
I do know that many heed this exhortation–look at Mark Driscoll’s Resurgence if you want to understand what I’m all for. He’s repackaging the old Westminster Catechism for the emerging church today. This is why we cannot dismiss the emerging church with a broad brush as so many urge me to do. I love its practices and stress out at its “emerging untheology.” Driscoll, by the way, is influenced by John Piper, an infinitely better influence than the McLarens, Burkes, or Smith Jrs any day.
I have tried, however imperfectly, to follow Spurgeon’s advice in my preaching. I value the Word and I trust that God’s true people appreciate it its fullness. No dumbing down. No watering down. No skipping stuff. No glory in ambiguity. No apologies. No falsely humble uncertainties. No baby food.
Just piping-hot, juicy, slabs of blood-red meat to build muscle for the humanly impossible task of living like Jesus in such a way that the world takes notice and comes to him.
“The Bible is an anvil that has worn out many hammers.”