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A Preaching Problem

One of our better TV preachers, has a problem. His audience does not have the calling and purpose for life that he has. He is constantly interjecting the word “listen” into his message to get their attention. In this he displays his concern that he may not be getting his message across, that too many might not be paying attention. In this he is probably very correct. Today’s Christians are generally not what you would call intensely interested in sermon content.

But what I don’t think this preacher appreciates is the basic reason behind their lukewarm attentiveness. The reason lies in the content of past sermons, his or any they may have heard in almost any church. Specifically, it is centered in the way the Great Commission of Christ is interpreted. It is taken as a call to evangelize the world, a task that is pertinent to pastors and missionaries, not ordinary Christians. These men are seen as having been called to “full time Christian service” and are thusly distinguished from other Christians.

This produces a dichotomy of interests between individuals in the “Lord’s work” and “lay persons.” If the Great Commission is a call to evangelize or preach the Gospel to all the nations, then it is pastors, missionaries, and evangelists that are called or commissioned to the task. They then have a calling from God to do His work in this world. It is something most of them take seriously and that fact is reflected in their attitude toward God’s word. It is something that involves their life’s work and affects them deeply.

The lay person, on the other hand, is only indirectly involved in this work. It is not the central purpose in which his life is centered. He donates or tithes and feels he has done his part. He may set an example and occasionally speak of his faith to others but, for the typical Christian, this is not the focus of his life’s work. It is not anywhere near the most important activity on his priority list.

But if we look at Matthew 28:18-20, and see that what Christ really said to His disciples—and indirectly to all Christians: “teach all nations… to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you”. All nations would mean the entire world, and they are to obey all His commandments. This is clearly much more than a call to preach; it is a call to convert. The world is to be converted to the Christian faith! Christ says here—to all Christians—make this world a Christian world. Putting aside for the moment the difficulties associated with this task, it is clearly not a task that can be accomplished merely through preaching.

It requires first of all that the nation or community the work is to spring from be itself a Christian nation or community. To attempt to evangelize the world from an apostate base is ludicrous. It can only begin at a point that can itself be called Christian. When we consider the inroads humanistic atheism has made in the last century, America today can hardly be considered such a place. America must itself be converted to Christ before it can be so presumptuous as to attempt to convert the world.  As history has confirmed, preaching and evangelism has not been enough. It involves major cultural change, which requires serious effort on the part of every true Christian. They must begin to speak out against the atrocities found in the schools, the entertainment media, the government and every area of society. Jesus said when He gave us the Commission that “all power is given unto me.” He is today the King of kings and Lord of lords and we must declare this truth with all the force we can muster. As the legitimate king, His law must govern America and every nation in the world.

If Christians were taught and really believed that God has given them the responsibilities involved in the fulfilling of the Great Commission, it could be accomplished much more easily and rapidly than might appear at first glance. As many polls have shown, there are many more Christians than there are unbelievers in this country. If this task were, as God tells us it should be, the first priority in a substantial number of Christian’s lives (Matt. 6:33), we would see a powerful force unleashed in this country. It would be the beginning of the defeat of secular humanism and a return to godliness, a turning point for America.

Before such a process can begin though, the pulpits must change the message; and before that can take place, the preachers and teachers must see for themselves that they (and their teachers) have been wrong. This is the more difficult task but it is not impossible. Christians today are increasingly fed up with the current accelerating cultural decline and many are ready for this message. Pastors that begin to preach it will find a positive response and will experience real growth. It won’t be growth based on popular music or other non-biblical, secular attractions. It will be real and serious Christians that want to obey the Lord that will come to these churches. As pastors and elders become aware of this trend, they will get on-board and the movement will accelerate. The church will finally have learned its true mission and this nation will be greatly blessed.