Why Preaching Has Declined

I would not hesitate to put in the first position [for the decline]: the loss of belief in the authority of the Scriptures, and a diminution in the belief of the Truth. I put this first because I am sure it is the main factor. If you have not got authority, you cannot speak well, you cannot preach. Great preaching always depends upon great themes. Great themes always produce great speaking in any realm, and this is particularly true, of course, in the realm of the Church. While men believed in the Scriptures as the authoritative Word of God and spoke on the basis of that authority you had great preaching. But once that went, and men began to speculate, and to theorize, and to put up hypotheses and so on, the eloquence and the greatness of the spoken word inevitably declined and began to wane. You cannot really deal with speculations and conjectures in the same way as preaching had formerly dealt with the great themes of the Scriptures. But as belief in the great doctrines of the Bible began to go out, and sermons were replaced by ethical addresses and homilies, and moral uplift and sociopolitical talk, it is not surprising that preaching declined. I suggest that this is the first and the greatest cause of this decline.

—Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Preaching and Preachers

Via: Colin Adams

The Biblical Word

…[I]t is certainly the case that the Word of God, read or preached, has the power to enter the innermost crevices of a person’s being, to shine light in unwanted places, to explode the myths and deceits by which fallen life sustains itself, and to bring that person face to face with the eternal God. It is this biblical Word which God uses to bring repentance, to excite faith, to give new life, to sustain that life once given, to correct, nurture, and guide the Church (Jer. 23:29; II Tim. 3:16; Heb. 4:12; Jas. 1:18). The biblical Word is self-authenticating under the power of the Holy Spirit. This Word of God is the means by which God accomplishes his saving work in his people, and this is a work that no evangelist and no preacher can do. This is why the dearth of serious, sustained, biblical preaching in the Church today is a serious matter. When the Church loses the Word of God it loses the very means by which God does his work. In its absence, therefore, a script is being written, however unwittingly, for the Church’s undoing, not in one cataclysmic moment, but in a slow, inexorable slide made up of piece by tiny piece of daily dereliction.

—David Wells
Above All Earthly Pow’rs: Christ in a Postmodern World

Via: Tim Phillips

The False Gospel of Prosperity

In light of this article titled “Believers Invest in the Gospel of Getting Rich” on the front page of the New York Times, I thought I would re-post this video of John Piper addressing the so-called “Prosperity Gospel.”

Please pray that the light of the true gospel of Jesus Christ will shine forth in this world and that Jesus will not be seen as the means to the end – but the end itself.

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

—Matthew 6:19-21

And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven.

—Matthew 9:16-23

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

—Matthew 16:24-28

MP3 Sermons vs Your Pastor’s Sermons

The repository of MP3 sermon audio on the Internet is vast and varied and easy to tap. Take your choice between living preachers, dead preachers, close preachers, and preachers on the opposite side of the globe. It doesn’t matter. With a click of the mouse a file rushes into your computer where it can be flushed through a cord into your iPod where it streams into your head through earbuds. Enjoy the thrill of a computer filled with hundreds of hours of audio sermons!

Now think of your pastor. He’s not unaware of this availability; he knows you have been downloading sermons all week as he has invested 20+ hours into preparing his sermon for Sunday. And stack his Sunday message against the Sunday sermons of preaching celebrities X, Y, and Z and there is no comparison.

Or is there?

According to the late Martyn Lloyd-Jones, a man who knew a bit about the art and craft of preaching, MP3 sermons are no match for your pastor’s pulpit. He said:

There is a unity between preacher and hearers and there is a transaction backwards and forwards. That, to me, is true preaching. And that is where you see the essential difference between listening to preaching in a church and listening to a sermon on the television or on the radio. You cannot listen to true preaching in detachment and you must never be in a position where you can turn it off. (Banner of Truth Magazine, Feb 1990)

Good thoughts to consider as we prepp for Sunday worship.

Via: Tony Reinke