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Summary: The aim of good Bible teaching and preaching is to conform believers to Christ’s image.

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Introduction: Not A Time For Weak-Hearted Preaching

By Fred Jackson and Jody Brown

November 22, 2002

(Agape Press) - A well known Bible teacher and author is calling on pastors to confront false beliefs from the pulpit. John MacArthur says no epoch in history has witnessed the rise of as many dangerous belief systems as the 20th century.

In a recent address to students and faculty at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, MacArthur recounted scores of dangerous teachings that had dotted history, from pre-reformation sacramentalism to current day post-modernism and inclusivism. All of these, he said, run contrary to biblical truth.

Baptist Press reports that in MacArthur’s words, "This is not a time for weak men in weak pulpits in weak churches preaching weak messages." MacArthur says the aim of good Bible teaching is to conform church members to Christ’s image.

According to MacArthur, shallow preaching produces shallow worship. With that in mind, he says he can walk into a church and listen to the music for 15 minutes and tell how profound the people’s understanding of God is because it will be reflected in that.

MacArthur, host of the radio program Grace to You, also appeared recently on a weekly radio program hosted by Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. During that broadcast, Mohler commented that many pastors focus more on entertainment than on conveying biblical information -- "theological evasions," he calls them.

"[Pastors] are avoiding some of those texts that would require them to preach some of those doctrines that might cause offense in the contemporary world," Mohler observed.

MacArthur agreed, saying that too often, pastors take "a man-centered approach" and let the culture dictate their message. That sort of preaching, he said, gives the message a biblical allusion -- but in the end "prostitutes the intent of Scripture."

(© 2002 AgapePress all rights reserved.)

I. YOU NEED AN UNMISTAKABLE AWARENESS OF GOD’S WORD. Hebrews 4:12-13

Illustration: How To Handle A Knife

I have several pocketknives at home. I’ve come to find that there are certain ways to handle a knife, especially when it’s open. Closed, I can toss it, stick it in my pocket, or squeeze it in my hand. It does very little harm. But open, it becomes a fierce weapon with the ability to injure or even kill. It must be handled with care, caution, and respect. That’s why you would exercise great care before you give a knife to a child.

Likewise, the Word of God, the living and powerful sword, must be handled with even greater care, caution, and respect. When closed, it is docile and harmless. But opened, it has the ability to injure or even kill, especially if it is in the hands of one who is unskilled in the Word.

A. Preaching Should Point Us Back To The Word. 2 Peter 1:20-21; 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Note: Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, gave us a new understanding of God’s message. The Words of Christ were actually a reaffirmation of the Old Testament message. His mission was not to destroy the Law, but to fulfill it. New Testament believers tend to think that Jesus only changed things. But His true purpose was to show us how God really wanted us to live. He came with the message that true religion was internal, not external. “You missed the point!” He seemingly screamed from the mount. But the religious and worldly people of His day didn’t get it. In some respects, we haven’t changed much.

B. Preaching Should Lead Us Away From Self-Righteousness. 2 Corinthians 5:17; Titus 3:5

II. YOU NEED AN UNALTERABLE ATTRACTION TO GOD’S KINGDOM. John 18:36

Note: The Jews expected the Messiah to be a military and political leader, but He was more concerned with what men were because what we are determines what we do.

Example: A liar can tell the truth on any given occasion, but unless there is a change of character he is still a liar, even though he may tell the truth at times. But his propensity is still to lie because that is who he is. An honest man, on the other hand, may tell a lie occasionally, but usually tells the truth, even when it puts him at a disadvantage, because that is who he is. There is no political or social reform that can change the character of a man. Only Jesus Christ can do that. See Matthew 6:10

A. The Kingdom Will Not Come Through Social And Political Reform. 1 Peter 2:13-14

B. The Kingdom Will Not Come Through Divine Laws And Religious Traditions. Matthew 7:28-29

Note: A rabbi commonly sat down when he taught. If he spoke while standing or walking, what he said was considered to be informal and unofficial. But when he sat down, what he said was authoritative and official. Even today we speak of professors holding a “chair” in a university, signifying the honored position from which they teach. When the Roman Catholic pope gives an official pronouncement, he is said to speak ex cathedra, which literally means to speak from his chair. When Jesus sat down and delivered the Sermon on the Mount, He spoke from His divine chair with absolute authority as the sovereign King. (The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, (c) Moody Press and John MacArthur, Jr., 1983-2002.)

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