Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Preaching truth

Christian apologist, Ravi Zacharias, tells of being invited to speak to a gathering of six Russian generals in Moscow. At the end of their discussion a general shook his hand and said, "Dr. Zacharias, I believe what you have brought us is the truth. But it is so hard to change after seventy years of believing a lie."

Pilate asked "What is truth?" and many today would be hard-pressed to answer that question. We have all but eliminated the concept of absolute truth in America, and, unfortunately, this includes the church. Zacharias writes in his book Can Man Live Without God that 67 percent of Americans deny that there is such a thing as truth.

The church wasn't paying attention in 1984 when Francis Schaeffer wrote The Great Evangelical Disaster. In that book he said that the great evangelical disaster was accommodation to the world seen by refusing to stand for biblical truth. Let me quote one passage from this important book.

“Here is the great evangelical disaster – the failure of the evangelical world to stand for truth as truth. There is only one word for this – namely accommodation: the evangelical church has accommodated to the world spirit of the age. First, there has been accommodation on Scripture, so that many who call themselves evangelicals hold a weakened view of the Bible and no longer affirm the truth of all the Bible teaches – truth not only in religious matters but in the areas of science and history and morality. As part of this, many evangelicals are now accepting the higher critical methods in the study of the Bible. Remember, it was these same methods which destroyed the authority of the Bible for the Protestant church in Germany in the last century, and which have destroyed the Bible for the liberal in our own country from the beginning of this century. And second, there has been accommodation on the issues, with no clear stand being taken even on matter of life and death.”

He went on to discuss some of the results from this accommodation, which we have seen played out in our lifetimes. What was true in 1984 is even more prevalent in many of our churches today. Many of our congregations sit under watered-down preaching that denies the fundamentals of the faith including the authority of the Scriptures. Pastors are afraid of offending someone or being seen as intolerant or exclusive so they tickle the ears of their listeners. Their preaching is guided by the latest opinion poll or survey rather than by the Scriptures.

Many of our congregations are like the Russian generals. They have been taught and believed a lie for so long it will be hard for them to hear the truth. It will be even harder for them to believe that truth and begin to change the way they live their lives.

But, preach the truth we must. Jesus said His words have life, and this life is what we must preach. In a world where many people are looking for ways to be offended, preaching the truth will not always make you the most popular person in town. Like someone recently said, if you want to be popular, sell ice cream. But, if God has called you into the ministry then a significant part of that calling is to proclaim the truth of God's Word from the pulpit, in the classroom, and wherever you speak. Only then will you be able to point the way where your listeners can find the life that Jesus Christ came to give them.

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