Summary: The message of the preacher blessed by God will disturb the casual, even as it glorifies the Master. Contrary to every expectation, the message presented by the servants of the devil is boring, generating no excitement and no reaction.
“When they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, ‘This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.’ And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women. But the Jews were jealous, and taking some wicked men of the rabble, they formed a mob, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the crowd. And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, ‘These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also.’”
Recently, I read a blog posted by Professor Russell Moore, Dean of the School of Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Doctor Moore had entitled his blog entry, “The Devil Is a Boring Preacher: The High Stakes of Dull Sermons.” The title of Dr. Moore’s blog post is too good to ignore. In fact, I found it so compelling that I could not permit it to go unused in my own preaching schedule. However, more compelling than the title are the issues raised by the good doctor.
The vital point that Dr. Moore emphasised in his blog is that the devil is a preacher. The devil does not, however, present some strange, occult ritual that blatantly contradicts the Bible. In fact, throughout Scripture he quotes the Bible, putting his own peculiar spin on the Word that God has given. He deceives the unwary through saying what they want to hear, giving them a good feeling about their efforts to be religious. However, when we stop and think about what is actually said, his message is boring. Hence, there is no lasting impact for good. Those who feel good about their own efforts soon pass into oblivion, and no one wants to hear “nice” sermons.
In contradistinction to the soothing message that the devil brings, those who preach the Word of God are disturbers—they turn the world upside down. The message they bring, when it is received, will cause trouble, create division, and compel disruption in staid lives. However, it is an exciting message if it is received. Join me in thinking about this vital subject, applying our best thoughts to seek God’s glory through the ministry of the congregation.
THE IMPACT OF BIBLICAL PREACHING — Jesus was a shocking preacher. Indeed, He is the Prince of Peace. However, this same Prince of Peace warned those who thought to follow Him, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” [MATTHEW 10:34-39].
Earlier, the Master had spoken pointedly to some who said they wished to follow Him. He said, “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake” [MATTHEW 10:16-22a].
These words anticipate a warning given to His disciples immediately before His Passion. “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause’” [JOHN 15:18-25].