In my last column, I addressed the suggestion by another writer that the church needs to change dramatically or risk becoming irrelevant. I contend those in danger of becoming irrelevant are those who depart from the pattern established by God in his word.
The church is to be the pillar and ground of truth, (1Timothy 3:16); instead congregations are tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the sleight of men, (Ephesians 4:16). Churches are losing their relevance because they rely on the arm of flesh and the wisdom of man to do the work of God rather than trusting in the power of that almighty God and the blueprint he has provided in his word. The apostle Paul said, “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).
Churches are experiencing a famine of hearing the words of the Lord, (Amos 8:11). This famine exists because many clergy no longer use the Bible as the primary text for their sermons; often it’s not even a secondary text. In my 33 years of ministry I have found many Christians are ignorant of God’s word. Hosea 4:6 says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. They lack knowledge because many in the pulpit no longer preach the whole counsel of God. Their preaching is nothing more than, “Good words and fair speeches,” (Romans 16:18); carefully crafted, “Enticing words of man’s wisdom,” more concerned with being politically correct than biblically correct.
The prophet Jeremiah spoke of such a condition more than 2,000 years ago. “For the pastors are become brutish, and have not sought the Lord: therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered” (Jeremiah 10:21). “And I brought you into a plentiful country, to eat the fruit thereof and the goodness thereof; but when ye entered, ye defiled my land, and made mine heritage an abomination. The priests said not, Where is the Lord? and they that handle the law knew me not: the pastors also transgressed against me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit” (Jeremiah 2:7-8). “Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the Lord. Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the Lord.
And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the Lord” (Jeremiah 23:1-4).
Job said, “I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:12). Peter said, “As new born babes desire the sincere milk of the word that they may grow thereby.” (1Peter 2:2). Paul said, “faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). Jesus said, “Sanctify them through the truth, thy word is truth” (John 17:17). Those in today’s pulpits should heed Paul’s challenge to the young preacher, “Preach the word ... reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2Timothy 4:2).
Christians must demand their pastors preach the Word or find a church that does.
Kenneth Codner is pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Spring Mills. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.