Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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In The News: A Famine of the Word of God

inthenewsCecil May is the President of Faulkner University, and holds meetings in institutional (liberal) churches throughout the nation. He has some conservative inclinations, and from time to time in his bulletin, Preacher Talk, complains about the direction that institutional churches are heading in attitudes and worship. The following recently came from his pen.

“‘Behold, the days are coming,’ declares the Lord God, ‘when I will send a famine on the land — not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord’” (Amos 8:11). While Amos was not talking about us or today, his words fit.

Many changes taking place today indicate a decline in appreciation for preaching.

Contemporary services typically focus on “praise and worship” and down-play preaching. Instead of two sermons on Sundays, Sunday night preaching is replaced by small group meetings. (These are not wrong in themselves and are often beneficial, but they do replace preaching.)

In the preaching that remains, popular demands are requiring shorter and shorter sermons. Film clips from television programs or movies replace significant parts of the sermons. Drama is deemed more effective than preaching. Preaching designed to make us feel good replaces preaching to convict and call to repentance.

The Bible still says, “How shall they hear without someone preaching” (Romans 10:14) and “It pleased God by the folly of what we preach to save those who believe” (1 Corinthians 1:21).

Cecil May, Jr.
Preacher Talk, Vol. 23, No. 1, pg. 2

Analysis:

When the movie The Passion of the Christ came out I wrote an article for the River Oaks News mentioning the furor surrounding the movie. (You may remember that certain representatives of the Jewish community took exception to the movie’s premise that the Jews were responsible for the death of Christ. I guess they would not appreciate Peter’s statement, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Acts 2:36).

Regardless, in the article I mentioned that I had no desire to go see the movie. I had the New Testament itself, and felt no need to see the dramatization of the words I had read. The editor of the paper and others in the office had watched the movie, were very moved by it, and were convinced that it would bring some to Christ. So, she feared some would be offended by my words, and declined to run the article.

The attitude is typical. But, the idea that we need to spice up and dramatize the words of God (if you carefully think about it) is rather insulting to the Spirit of grace. While emotion certainly has its place in the lives of Christians, it should be noted that the types of emotional responses which lead to true zeal, ardor and love come as a result of edification. And edification is the byproduct of preaching and teaching.

Churches that are interested in truly lighting a fire under members would do well to remember that a movie, play or skit may cause someone to walk out the door sad, happy, or angry (depending upon the purpose of the dramatics); but the preaching of the gospel of our Lord (if heeded) will lead to lifetime commitments and zeal. “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2). As always, God’s way is the best way!