Reprinted from the March 2014 issue of “Gospel Advocate” Magazine.
Sound biblical preaching has become nearly an endangered species. At the same time, sound preaching is needed now more than ever. The behavior of self-proclaimed Christians often is not much different than that of their secular neighbors. Divorce rates and instances of criminal activity are comparable. George Barna has concluded, “Every day, the church is becoming more like the world it allegedly seeks to change.” 1 For some, this may be nothing more than an attempt (as some might put it) to be as liberal as necessary in order to win as many souls as possible. For others, this means to imitate culture so that outsiders will perceive them as relevant. Both are formulas for disaster. One produces weak Christians while the other produces inauthentic ones.
The pursuit of relevance is little more than an exercise in pragmatism. In order to ensure that the contribution remains high and numbers stay solid, some congregations seem to be willing to trade biblical preaching for other means, including dramatic productions, pop psychology and other entertainment-based forms of communicating biblical principles. The rationale is simple: draw them in now, then give them more in-depth biblical instruction later. It does not seem to dawn on these individuals that those who come for entertainment will leave for greener pastures should the church fail to continue to provide such entertainment.
Preaching and the Spirit
Sound biblical preaching and the Holy Spirit are inextricably connected. When preaching the first recorded gospel sermon in Acts 2, the apostle Peter told his hearers in no uncertain terms if they submitted to baptism for the remission of their sins that they would “receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38 esv). This gift was not a spiritual gift that Paul would later mention in 1 Corinthians 12-14, but rather a general indwelling within the believer. Furman Kearley identified it as “a non-miraculous manifestation of the Holy Spirit given in fulfillment of the promise to all who repent and are baptized.” 2