Monday, October 28, 2013
The church is dying on the vine because it is malnourished. It is not Christ who is starving His church. It is the shepherds who are not caring for the flock. The Word of God, which has the power to transform hearts and lives, has been substituted for the wisdom and cleverness of man. No longer are we dependent on the Word and Spirit to remove the heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh. Instead, we have elevated the wisdom of man and replaced that which is truly spiritual with that which comes from the flesh. This is foolishness (1 Cor. 1:18-25).
Exegesis of the text with loving, pastoral application is far too uncommon in the pulpits of the 21st century American church. The exposition of the inspired text has been replaced by ten-second sound bites and pithy sayings meant to show the cleverness of the speaker rather than reveal the heart of God. Applications that do not exist are drawn from a text that has little relevance to what is being said. And even some of those applications are suspect as to whether they even have biblical warrant.
For all of its advantages, the church is weak and increasingly irrelevant. People are seeking a word from God but instead they receive (in many cases) the recycled words of other men. Once while visiting a pastor in his study, I asked what the topic was for his Sunday morning sermon. He told me he was in the midst of a series, the title of which he gave me. Then I noticed a book on his desk with the same title. The book was written, not by a theologian or biblical scholar but by a pair of psychologists. While the person in the pew is expecting to hear the voice of a prophet, they hear the weak voice of one who has no word from God and therefore no authority.
If the church is to stem the tide toward irrelevancy, it must recover biblical preaching under girded by the belief that the Word matters and it has the power to transform. In a phrase, we must adhere to Paul's admonition to young Timothy--"Preach the word." (2 Tim. 4:2).