There is a certain type of preaching that is biblically sound and acceptable to the people of God, but it just floats. This type of preaching exegetes the bible in a faithful way. It originates in scripture and therefore is expository. But it lacks bite.
Such preaching is very acceptable to the carnal believer who does not want to be challenged by the Word. Such people are living insipid half-hearted Christian lives. And, sadly, they convince themselves that this is acceptable because they never hear any preaching of the Word that disturbs them. The Word never gets beneath their skins. Rather, the preaching that they do hear gives a regular massage to their compromised torsos and they go away thinking all is well.
The problem is that the preaching is just left to float into the air above the congregation. What is missing here? It is the “You are the man (2 Sam. 12:7b) that Nathan uttered to David. Previous to this as Nathan the prophet, brought the Word to David he had happily engaged with the blandishments (as he perceived them) that were being brought to him. But then Nathan hit him with the challenge. He dug the Word right into David’s soul. David could no longer be detached. The Word was upon him.
We need the “you are the man” in our preaching. We need to go for people’s hearts; we need to go for their sins. Do we love people so little that we will content to offer them up wimpish orations which would not disturb a seeded dandelion?
Think of Peter preaching the first two sermons of this gospel age. In both he brought the Word home to His hearers with challenge. So in Acts 2:40 we read With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation. Then take a look at Acts 3:11-26 and listen to Peter preaching. I feel the words are so pointed and evocative you can almost hear him as you read. Acts 3:14-15a records him saying to the assembled Jews You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead.
Brothers, I know that so many of the Lord’s people just want the Word to be left floating. But really this is not good enough. A preaching that challenges the people to follow the Lord’s way is a loving ministry because it wants the best for the people. Take a look at Acts 3:11-26 again and you will see that Peter is only being so direct because he longs for them to come to repentance and faith; he wants the best for them. So let’s drill the Word down into people’s hearts. Let them know that there is a God in heaven who hates sin. Let us tell them that the ointment of God’s grace, sealed in the blood of Jesus, is sufficient to heal all the wounds of their sin.
And if you feel that this might make you unpopular, brother preacher, then remember you are not in a popularity contest. Rather you are called to love the people under your care and do them good through the faithful preaching of the Word.
(Originally published at venabling on July 29th 2013)