Tragedy of Compromise
My Opinion or God's Directive?
biblical Christians have held that the objective truths
of the written Scriptures supersede and authoritatively
interpret all professed Christian experience. But this concept
has been challenged by some New Evangelicals.
authority has been undermined by the rise of spiritualism,
where the appeal is to the inner light or the voice of the
Spirit rather than to the written Word of God. In these
circles it is assumed that there is a discontinuity between
what the Spirit said in biblical times and what He says
today. It is also contended that the Spirit is speaking
through the social sciences and politics, and this means
that the Bible is therefore interpreted in the new light
that comes to us from the social sciences.49
not all New Evangelicals would see it the same way, many
have been influenced toward a more subjective approach to
biblical interpretation. The charismatic movement has aided
this with their appeal to extrabiblical "revelations."
preaching described in the Bible is authoritative. "For
our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power,
and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance" (I Thess.
1:5). The words "in much assurance" could be rendered
"with deep conviction," referring to the strongly
held convictions of the preacher, not the hearer. Our blessed
Lord "taught them as one having authority, and not
as the scribes" (Matt. 7:29). The rabbinical teachers
of the day quoted one another and often were indefinite
as to exactly what the Scriptures taught; but Jesus was
not so. Those who would preach like Jesus must be definite,
clear, decisive, and settled. Christ's authority, of course,
resided in Himself. Our authority resides in the Holy Scriptures.
One of the words for the Gospel preacher in the New Testament
is kerux. It is used for instance in II Timothy 1:11
where Paul declares he was appointed a "preacher."
A preacher is a "herald," "a messenger vested
with public authority, who conveyed the official message
of kings, magistrates, princes, military commanders, or
who gave a public summons or demand" (Thayer's Lexicon).
A herald was not consulting with the populace to ascertain
what message they would like to hear. He was going forth
with confidence, proclaiming without change the message
he had been given whether people wished to hear it or not.
The modern world needs to hear messengers who come from
the throne of the Almighty with the timeless message of
Christian woman in a congregation I served as pastor came
to me on one occasion and said, "Iím so glad I have
a pastor who is against some things and isnít afraid to
say so publicly." Not all Christians have been carried
away with the disease of "positivism" that seems
to have captured so much of modern Christendom. There are
discerning saints who see through this current façade
and grasp the heart of the issue.
is opposed to preachers who "speak a vision of their
own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord" (Jer.
23:16). They are "prophets of the deceit of their own
heart" (Jer. 23:26). Modern New Evangelical preachers
would not use such harsh language to describe those who
are teaching error, but God's ancient prophet did. Isaiah
said of his people Israel, "Ah sinful nation, a people
laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that
are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked
the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward"
(Isa. 1:4). It is this type of preaching which is not popular
today and which New Evangelicals refer to as "prophetic"
preaching. Their cry is for "affirmative" rather
than "prophetic" preaching. But what kind of preaching
does God want, and what kind of preaching is exemplified
in Scripture? The greatest preacher who ever walked this
earth, the Lord Jesus Christ, uttered scathing denunciations
of the Pharisees, often repeating the phrase "Woe unto
you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!" (Matt. 23:13,
e.g.). Such outspokenness would be an embarrassment to the
New Evangelicals of our day even though the words were uttered
by the kindest and most loving person this world has ever
not appealing here for uncouth, vitriolic, or deliberately
abrasive preaching. Some preachers, in their zeal to "take
a stand," become mean and nasty in their pulpit ministry,
harp on petty issues, and fail to feed the flock of God.
Our task is to be "speaking the truth in love"
(Eph. 4:15). Only a Spirit-controlled believer can display
this balance in his life.
Diet of Doctrine
of the preacher's main responsibilities is to teach sound
doctrine. Paul describes the work of the preacher in this
way: "Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been
taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort
and to convince the gainsayers" (Titus 1:9). The verse
tells us that the man of God must be (1) loyal to Scripture,
(2) knowledgeable in theology, (3) a teacher of doctrine,
and (4) an outspoken opponent of false teaching. Regrettably,
many of these elements are lacking in the contemporary pulpit.
For this reason there is many a saint who is shrivelled,
weak, and blown about by various "winds."
process of preaching the Word, God's messengers are to "exhort
with all longsuffering and doctrine" (II Tim. 4:2).
How does God judge whether a pastor is a good pastor? Paul
says that a "good minister of Jesus Christ" will
be "nourished up in the words of faith and of good
doctrine" (I Tim. 4:6). Before mentioning other characteristics
of his ministry, Paul reminds Timothy that he has "fully
known" Paul's "doctrine" (II Tim. 3:10).
Paul puts that first in the list as if to say, "My
doctrine is very important and I want everyone to know exactly
what it is."
modern concept of what constitutes a good preacher and good
preaching is often in conflict with the pattern set forth
in the Bible. Unsaved persons and carnal Christians are
not reliable guides when seeking to develop a philosophy
of preaching. The only accurate and authoritative "guide
to preaching" is the Word of God itself.
The Tradedy of Compromise. ByErnest Pickering. ©1994. BJU Press.
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