Saturday, April 5, 2014

Green Pastures? Part 1

With the advent of the internet, there is really no excuse for one who claims to be a child of God. You can stream audio or video, read blogs, and read articles pertaining to the faith. You can use the Bible tools and commentaries that have been made available to you to better enhance your study of the Scriptures. There is simply no reason not to grow.

However, with the wealth of information that is available to us to better our faith, there is the equal and most dangerous issue of poisoning ourselves with falsehood and lies. While there are sound preachers and teachers available online, there are also false prophets and teachers spewing forth false doctrine to deceive those not strong in their faith. So I have to ask you this question reader: Who are you listening to?

Not everyone who proclaims to preach the Word is actually preaching it correctly. Anyone can get behind the sacred desk and say a few words about Scripture. That does not mean that they are rightly dividing it (2 Tim 2:15). Anecdotes, jokes, life stories and illustrations do not a sermon make. Neither do philosophies, opinions, and social issues. No, it is when the Word of God is brought to bear on the ears, mind, and heart of a listener that true transformation takes place.

2 Timothy 4:1-5 makes it clear to us what we should be looking for in those who proclaim God’s Word.

1. They take their calling seriously.

Paul charged Timothy to preach the Word. He gave that charge with apostolic authority because it was of the utmost importance. The feeding of God’s flock is an absolute necessity, and it is the task of the herald to lead the sheep to proper green pastures. Not all pastures are safe to graze in, and the flock must be educated on what is truth and what is falsehood.

Paul charged Timothy to preach the Word. He gave that charge with apostolic authority because of the implications. Paul did not just charge Timothy, no, he charged Timothy in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead. Ultimately, those who proclaim God’s Word will be judged more strictly. This is why James admonished that not many who think they are called should become teachers (James 3:1), for they will be judged for the words that fall from their lips. Those men who understand this have counted the cost before they accepted the call, so when they stand behind the pulpit, it is serious business. When they speak of God, it is done with trembling and humility.

They are not there to look hip.
They are not there to be cool.
They are not there to move the crowd.
They are not there to entertain.
They are not there to amuse.
They are not there to dazzle.
They are not there to make people feel good.
They are not there to be praised by men.
They are not there to flaunt their eloquence.
They are not there to be popular.
They are not there to line their pockets.
They are not there to manipulate.
They are not there to be on billboards and TV.

No! They are there doing what they were commanded to do: to preach the Word!

It does not matter what time of day it is.
It does not matter who is there.
It does not matter how they feel about the passage.
It does not matter how they have physically felt.
It does not matter what people will think.
It does not matter how people respond.
It does not matter if anyone listens.

No! All that matters is that the rightly divided Word that they have pored over, wrestled with, prayed over, wept over, and were transformed themselves by, is preached with reckless abandon, zeal, and passion – that Christ is exalted and the gospel is made known to all who are present. These men rely on the power of the Holy Spirit and not their own abilities, to drive home what God has declared in whatever text they may be preaching from. They do not shirk away from difficult passages. They do not cower at controversial passages. They do not preach only their favorite passages. They DO NOT SKIP passages! No! They preach the whole counsel of the Word of God! All of it! Every jot! Every tittle! Not one stone is left unturned as they mine the precious truths contained within the Holy Writ. They preach with confidence, not because of something intrinsic to themselves, but because of their faith in the sufficiency of Scripture and the power of God resting in them.

Many of these so-called preachers today are not qualified to stand before God’s people. Some have compromised the truth. Some have rubbed elbows with the enemy. Some purposely twisted Scripture to their own benefit. And these are the men (and women?!?!) at the forefront! My brothers and sisters, this should not be! But this is the drivel that many of us who profess Christ listen to!

Oh, I plead with you my brother. I plead with you my sister. Be watchful; be mindful of what you take in. Get rid of Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, T. D, Jakes, Creflo Dollar, Benny Hinn, Steven Furtick, Perry Noble, Ed Young, Jr., Kenneth Copeland, Joseph Prince, Fred Price Jr., Fred Price, Sr., Brian Houston, Bill Johnson, Mike Bickle, and anyone else who does not proclaim the unadulterated and pure truth. You are drinking poisonous well water.

Replace them with R. C. Sproul, John MacArthur, Steven Lawson, Alistair Begg, Thabiti Anyabwile, Voddie Baucham, Conrad Mbewe, Phil Johnson, Mike Riccardi, Dan Phillips, Sinclair Ferguson, Ligon Duncan, and others who soundly proclaim God’s truth, who are well studied and properly know how to exegete and deliver the Word of God.

Your spiritual well-being should be so important to you that you refuse to take in anything that will be detrimental to your spiritual growth. Be Berean. Your life depends on it.

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