Archive for the ‘Preaching’ Category
American slavery ended the wrong way. It ended with bloodshed and with violence. It ended with whites in both the North and South turning on African-Americans. The end of the Civil War saw the rise of racist groups such as the KKK and in turn the NAACP. The terrible end to the slavery question in the United States gave rise to the Jim Crow era laws and would keep African-Americans in “chains” for another 100 years after the end of the Civil War. The abolitionist movement was successful in getting both Abraham Lincoln elected and in turn passing the 14th Amendment which abolished slavery (with the Emancipation Proclamation before it) but they fueled racism for another 100 years and it is still with us to this day.
Philemon, however, shows how Christianity, when it is truly preached, changes relationships completely. Tonight we studied Philemon with our boys in Royal Rangers. Philemon, of course, was written by Paul the Apostle to his friend Philemon who was a dear brother in the Lord (vv. 4-7). Philemon had a church meeting in his home (v. 2). Philemon had a slave named Onesimus who had run away from his master. At some point Onesimus heard the gospel and was saved under Paul (v. 10). Under Roman law a runaway slave must be returned to his master or face the possibility of getting caught and possibly killed. Until AD 20 in the Roman Empire, slaves had no rights but the Roman Senate passed a law that gave slaves the chance to purchase their freedom. Onesimus had bypassed this and fled to Rome where Paul was in prison (v. 9). Paul knew the law and was sending Onesimus back to his master but Paul pointed to the fact that Onesimus was now a brother in the Lord (vv. 15-16). Paul asked Philemon to forgive Onesimus (vv.17-20).
Surely also Philemon would have heard of Paul’s teaching from Ephesians 6:5-9 which reads:
5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, 6 not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 7 rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, 8 knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free. 9 Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.
Notice the transformation of the relationships between saved masters and saved slaves. Now we must also bear in mind that slavery in the Roman Empire was not based on race as it was in Europe and the United States. Slavery was often good for many slaves in the Roman Empire but could equally be cruel as well. The New Testament does not seek to abolish slavery by the power of men but rather through transformed relationships. I would think that Onesimus’ relationship with his master, Philemon, was transformed by the gospel and would have been a happy situation for him. Often slavery provided slaves with food, water, protection, shelter, and medicine.
I do think that slavery is best gone but true Christianity can break the chains of slavery unlike anything else. The American Civil War is a case in point. Sadly, the Civil War saw the rise of the State becoming the factor in moral issues. Take abortion for example. The Church too often looks to the State to end abortion. It should learn from the abolitionist movement of the 19th century and see that the gospel is what will end abortion. If abortion doctors and nurses get saved or if women in our culture hear the gospel and get saved, this transforms the culture. The gospel can transform the world! Jesus makes all things new (2 Corinthians 5:17). The cultural ills we see in our culture from the sin of abortion to the sin of homosexuality will only end with the gospel being preached and people repenting of their sins. The gospel can change our world.
The gospel changed both Philemon and Onesimus. The gospel can change our world as well. May we be faithful to preach the gospel and see the power of sin broken over people’s lives.
I would encourage you whether you are a Bible teacher or not to take a listen to Alistair Begg preaching on the subject of preaching from 1 Corinthians 2:1-5. Brother Begg speaks on biblical preaching and what is the source of our power. His sermon is right on and I enjoyed it tremendously.
You can listen to part B here which I considered the best portion of the sermon.
With the rise of pragmatism in the Western Church, what has been lost has been gospel focused, gospel rich, doctrinal preaching. One needs only to read the sermons of the Puritans, of Wesley, of Arminius, of Spurgeon, and you’ll see sermons rich in the Scriptures and rich in doctrine. After all, Paul told Timothy to watch his life and his doctrine closely to ensure both his own salvation and the salvation of others (1 Timothy 4:16). Doctrine goes hand in hand with “practical Christian living” (2 Timothy 1:13).
Yet sadly we live in an age where churches want results. They want to entertain the masses, to keep people happy, to keep people coming back to church. Rather than preaching the gospel and calling people to repent and to love, adore, praise, share, and live the gospel, the modern Church wants to just keep people coming and keep them comfortable. Lost has been rich doctrinal preaching. Lost has been teaching people how to study the Bible and apply it to our lives through the power of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:16-17). Lost has been a focus on Jesus and what He has done but instead we are focused on law teaching that teaches people how to be moral and how to pick themselves up and do what the Church says. Lost has been a wailing over our sinfulness, recognizing that only through the grace of God can we overcome sin (Titus 2:11-12) and only in Christ can we live the gospel. Further, lost has been the adoration of our God for His salvation nor for praising Him for His saving us from His wrath in His Son (Romans 1:18; 2 Thessalonians 1:8). Lost has been expository preaching where the Word of God and not the opinions of men takes precedence (2 Timothy 4:1-5).
I am not arguing here for dry doctrinal teaching. I am not arguing for mere academic preaching. I am arguing for gospel preaching that is passionate for the truth of God. I want to hear anointed preaching of the Word where the Bible teacher is passionate for the truth of God, where they truly love Jesus and His truth. I want to hear preachers who fear only God (Luke 12:4-7). I want to hear preachers who hate sin and want to see the gospel destroy sin in the lives of the people (Galatians 6:7-9; James 1:12-15). I want to hear preachers who know the grace of God in truth (Colossians 1:6) and who know that only in Christ can we overcome sin and live the normal Christian life (Romans 6:1-23). I am tired of hearing Mr. Legality in the pulpit but I want to hear the Interpreter who can turn us to the Word and show us that the Christian life is not something we do, it flows from who we are in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 7:1).
We do need doctrinal preaching. We need to hear teachings on deep doctrinal truths such as the Trinity, the doctrine of God, the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Person and work of both of Christ and the Holy Spirit, the truth of salvation, what it means to be sanctified, the truth of sin, heaven and hell. We have sermon series’ on movies, on families, on secular books, but where are the anointed teachers who will preach the gospel and from the gospel enable us to live lives of holiness? May God raise them up and soon I pray.