Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Preach the Gospel! (and give us something concrete!)

"The great doctrines of the Bible and of the gospel ought to be taught and proclaimed from the pulpit. One of the most acceptable and effective ways in which this can be done is through doctrinal preaching that is also biographical. For example, take 'Repentance.' Instead of speaking of repentance in the abstract, preach on it in the concrete -- cite well-known men and show how repentance occurred in their lives" (Macartney, Preaching Without Notes, p. 135). (ht: Doug Wilson)

When I read this I let out a hearty "AMEN"! 

This past April my wife and I visited a church in Frisco, CO while we were on vacation (skiing in Breckenridge, yes, hard lives we lead). The pastor was telling his people about how the Gospel is not just for when you come to faith, but for all of life. Especially towards the end he was really making it sing. But you know what? There are bazillions of Christians who have heard "preach the Gospel to yourself" many times, but have no idea how to do it. This is because they have never seen it in action. So, I was pleasantly surprised when this pastor began to talk about something concrete from his own life. He woke up one morning, he related to us, and while he lay there in bed, a sinful thought began to form in his mind. But before he let it take root, he brought a Gospel truth to his mind. He took that unwholesome thought captive and He brought into His mind Jesus Christ. He reminded himself of Romans 6, that he is able to say "no" to sin, because he has been brought out of death into life. I almost stood up and cheered! That pastor served his people well that morning!

So, pastors, elders, teachers, don't leave us hanging. Give us the Gospel and then show us, from your own life, how you work it out.

I will say that my pastor, Mike Bullmore, does this well. I have in my head several examples he has either shared from the pulpit or in a teaching or in a conversation with me of how he applied the Gospel to an area of his life. And the other pastors at my church do this well also, because they were trained by him.

This is really important. When you are ministering to someone, share encouragement, share truth, admonish in love, etc., but you should always be ready to show how you have done this in your own life. This is just common sense. You can tell a person something until you're out of breath, but it won't sink in until they see that you are not only talking the talk, but walking the walk. Paul told the Corinthians, "Be imitators of me!" How could they imitate him if they didn't see his example? People need to see how we work out the Gospel in our lives. Otherwise, they will go away discouraged. Let's not send those away discouraged whose lives God has been pleased to let us touch. Let's send them away encouraged by seeing how the Gospel has affected our lives. 

Give them something concrete.

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