Tuesday, September 19, 2017

These Difficult Times Need God-Called Preachers To Preach The Word

Image result for preaching
2 Timothy 3:1 "But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come." 


Whenever a naturally gifted athlete enters onto a playing field or a track, he or she shines brightly when the greatest odds are stacked against them. No one takes notice whenever the playing field is easy. However, whenever other factors and players enter into the fray, the athlete's natural talents, or what we could even term a sense of "calling" - is tested. 

Whenever it comes to the call to preach God's Word, the man of God chosen by God to preach His word may not be what others would had chose. If anything, the presence of "difficult times" or "perilous times" characterize each generation in which God's people find themselves. Despite the presence of difficult circumstances, God-called men shine forth the glory of God in Christ. In today's post, I want us to look at why perilous times, such as our own, still requires Biblical preaching.

In perilous times, many will resist preaching

The sooner a young man called into the ministry realizes the difficulty of his task, the better inclined He will be to lean on God. God knows what hurdles need overcome as the preacher gives himself to the task of proclaiming God's Word. Notice what we read in 1 Corinthians 1:18-23 -

"For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.”
20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness."

Preaching by design is not man kind's preference. One only need to look at the drift of so many modern churches to see how often they try to replace preaching with substitutes. Whenever a church replaces the pulpit with something else as the primary vehicle for communicating God's presence and power: whether music, drama, entertainment, sacraments, rituals, traditions, programs or personalities - a departure from God's prescribed method for changing lives has just begun. 

It is not that all those other things are necessarily bad in and of themselves. If anything, each one of the just listed components found in various churches have varying degrees of value to the overall life of the church. However, they are secondary in nature when compared to God's prescribed vehicle for the voice of His word - preaching. Some of the above mentioned components of church life may complement or supplement the ministry of the pulpit, yet, they must never be replacements for the preaching event. 

In days such as this, people in the church and the culture will resist preaching. 2 Timothy 3:2-6 gives a diagnosis and prediction of each successive generation down to our own:

"For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. 6 For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth."

Clearly the times predicted in the above text will be perilous, difficult and down right dangerous. In doing a brief word study on that word translated "difficult" (NASB) or "perilous" (KJV), we find out exactly what kind of age we find ourselves: "words difficult to bear and which penetrate deeply". In short, less and less will want to hear true Biblical preaching because they know that deep down, God's Word and its exposition peel back the layers of the heart that mask hidden sin and excuses.

So then why would God still prescribe a method of communicating His will and intent in the Bible, knowing full well that people prefer anything else but preaching? Why make it seemingly next to impossible for God-called men to bring forth God's word in such a hostile environment? Why preach at all in this present crisis? One reason: so that God alone can be credited as to why anyone would trust in Christ as their Savior and Lord or why any Christian would find themselves growing in the faith.

Present crisis requires preaching

Despite these perilous times in which we find ourselves, strong Christianity can only come about whenever there is sound, consistent Biblical preaching. After expounding further about what kind of present crisis was occurring in Paul's day, as well as our own, we discover these words in 2 Timothy 3:12-15 

"Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 13 But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus."

No matter how hostile the culture becomes to the gospel and no matter how apathetic churches become to preaching: God-called men are required in this present moral, spiritual and intellectual crisis. Paul reminds his young pastor/reader Timothy of how Moses had to deal with opposition against the fake magicians in the courts of Pharaoh (see Exodus 7:11; 2 Timothy 3:8). Jesus preached through Galilee, Samaria and Judea among hostility, mockery and pretenders. Whenever one reads the book of Acts, it is clear that the more the church was persecuted, the bolder the preaching became and the further advanced the Gospel message went into the far corners of the then known world. Why? The past and present crises required Biblical preaching.

Preachers, keep on preaching no matter what

Think of how God has called great preachers in times of great difficulty. Whenever New England Christianity was dying on the vine in the 17th century, Jonathan Edwards was called of God to preach - sparking forth the first great awakening. Or how about the rapid social and moral revolutions that have rocked the United States in the 20th and 21st centuries? God raised up preachers such as Billy Graham, Jim Cymbala, W.A Criswell, Adrian Rogers, D. James Kennedy, Steven J. Lawson, John MacArthur, Charles Stanley and others, as well as innumerable pastors across Bible believing pulpits across the world. 

The Lord has so designed and so commanded that preaching be done in this present crisis. As we close out today's post, Paul's words in 1 Timothy 4:13-16 ought to be a word to preachers everywhere to stay true to their calling and task to preach His word, not matter what:

"Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching. 14 Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery. 15 Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all. 16 Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you."