Sunday, May 14, 2006

Power in the Pulpit.

Paul wrote in the opening of the first epistle to the Thessalonians that the Gospel came to them with power. Apparently there was something about the preaching of the apostle Paul that made an impact. People's lives were changed, eternity was altered all because of the preaching of the Gospel.
Yet, so many times I feel that my preaching is rather tepid, dry, and dead. What was the difference? I preach expositionally. At the moment I am moving vs. by vs. through the book of Colossians. We didn't even stop for Mother's Day! But still, Sunday felt dry. Where is the power that Paul spoke of in his preaching.
Could it be that such power has ceased today? I don't think so. The Word of God is still as powerful, as fresh, and as relevant as ever. The problem I think is two-fold. One, too many of us are relying on feelings and equating that with unction and the filling of the Spirit. I don't want to advocate some cold and intellectual approach to preaching. Preaching the word demands passion. How can we present the love story of the Gospel with cold hearts? Yet, sometimes I don't feel much when I preach. It seems that in times of dryness and coldness we have to preach in faith. Faith that God honors his Word. Faith that preaching is God's means of evangelizing the world. Faith that his word will not return void, but will bear fruit and multiply - regardless of how I feel as I preach. Power in the pulpit is not an emotional delivery, or even "getting under a burden" to preach. Power in the pulpit is the sovereign work of God through the inerrant Word of God. It's interesting that some of the most fruitful services are those that really didn't seem to be "on" to me. Yet, the Gospel goes out in power, and lives are changed.

On the other hand, dryness can also be a sign of sin or prayerlessness. The only antidote to that is repentance.


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The rule of Scripture

Something has been on my mind lately. ( I know that's hard to believe!) I've been wondering just what is the place of scripture in the life of the 21st century church. Most of us would respond that the Bible is the authority of the Church, the life of the Church, the one true source of doctrine for the church; for most of us, we would say all the right things. But do our actions live up to our words? If Scripture is inspired and inerrent should it not rule how the church conducts itself? The whole issue of Church polity comes to mind. Where in scripture do we find the concept of a 'business meeting?' Especially one where the most carnal and unfaithful members of the church have the same voting power as the most godly and Spirit-filled. It seems evident to me that New Testament churches were governed not by the whims of the congregation, but by a group of faithful elders. Granted, there were issues that were decided by the congregation, the election of the first deacons in Acts 6 is a good example. Issues such as an annual budget, called staff, debt, or buildings probably should be handled in a large forum, with congregational input. Yet, the daily business of the church would best be handled by a godly group of elders. The elders would be charged with keeping the church doctrinally faithful, spiritually revived, and morally pure through the careful and biblical administration of church discipline.
However, mentioning elder governance in a Baptist church is almost grounds for dismissal! I go back to my original question. What happened to the rule of Scripture? Elders and elder rule are clearly taught, but we don't practice it. My opinion is that we love tradition more than we do scriptural clarity. As a Baptist pastor, the most frustrating aspect of ministry is our tendency to treat the Bible like an all you can eat buffet at Ryan's. We'll take a little of this, and some of that please, but no, not that - I don't care for any of that! I think it's high time for us to get back to the Bible!
Okay, I'll get off my soap-box now!