April 30, 2005
My heart s grieving
I’ve just read a powerful letter from a godly American minister of the Gospel (Dr. Daniel Dana, 1832 — Mass) — this has stirred my heart with its emphasis and focus on the errors that take place in times of revival.
What in particular speaks to me concerns the need to teach and preach the whole counsel of God to God’s people — and the present notion as well as previously that we focus our preaching on themes and truths that will keep drawing people to church and make the unbeliever who may be present to feel comfortable — what I see happening in churches today is that the preaching content of the messages each Sunday morning is on themes that are practical in the sense that they relate to the issues we face in life and also issues that will help stimulate growth in the church (numerically) — there’s very much a “let’s get going, guys” and a “hey, isn’t it great to be a Christian?” approach — which one cannot say in and of itself is wrong or opposed to the Bible.
Rather it’s what is not being preached — there is hardly any mention of sin — Christians are more encouraged to celebrate life and the church and to get involved — to be positive about being a Christian (the overriding view is that we hear enough negatives so that we don’t need more through messages) — the result is that the whole counsel of God is not preached and taught, eg the kind of themes that Paul taught to the early churches — the prevailing practice is that we get into serious Bible study in other contexts especially in home groups and in special Bible study forums, eg taking Bible College courses — yet it doesn’t work out like that in reality — the home groups do not have such serious Bible study, plus the Bible College courses are mainly geared to the mind rather than to the heart — a more academic approach even though if they’re worth anything, they will also challenge the heart.
The teaching and preaching of God’s Word to speak to the whole person, that speaks to the heart about the real issues of the heart, our weaknesses; also that teaches the doctrines of God in the face of today’s evils that so easily creep into the thinking and behaviour of men — these are not taught or preached — why? perhaps because they will discourage people from coming, they will push people out of the church et al — yet this is affecting the growth of the individual believer as well as the growth of the church family — the reality is that the message on Sunday morning becomes for almost all Christians (because they are so weak in the reading of their Bibles during the week) the moment when they will receive some direct spiritual input and challenge — it is not a time to give a few spiritual lollypops but to both teach the whole counsel of God consistently and diligently as well as to speak to the real, nitty-gritty issues of faithfulness and obedience in the Christian life — if we fail to teach God’s truth in this way, it is like feeding kids a diet of food that they like because it tastes good but does not provide them with the fibre and sustenance that they need for healthy growth — that is the responsibility of the spiritual leaders of any church and for which they are truly responsible and accountable to God.
And what is my responsibility as an apostle in this context? May the Lord give me courage and clear insight into His mind in this regard.