We are referring here to church-related preaching vs preaching the Word and Jesus. Good intent, often good message, even good results, but potentially the wrong focus. Why? The Lord takes care of today, not us! The Lord grows the church, not us. This, or course, flies completely in the face of the current church growth and emerging church frameworks.
What does ‘church-related preaching’ look like? Simply put, it refers to preaching that focuses mostly on congregation building (explicitly or implicitly), and what might be positively spun as congregational support matters. The counter pose to this would be preaching that is focused on Scripture in an interpretation or exegetical sense, or even a focus purely on the Word, centering on Jesus and life in Him alone.
Does this sound unrealistic and impractical in the real world. I hope so, because the Lord has been pretty clearly that worldliness, in all it’s forms, is not the road to church success.
Is this to propose that preaching on people issues and family support matters is bad? Not at all. However, when that becomes the consistent focus from any pulpit, exegesis of the Word of God and concomitant surrender to Jesus can easily fall from the front burner. In that situation, the world’s (remember that the world’s message is Satan’s) message that we can trust ourselves for at least the small matters can seductively make inroads. Once that starts to happen, we have the church inadvertently reinforcing the same messages that we are bombarded with constantly from the world. That is the quintessential slippery slope. Worse, this slippery approach is likely to be quite successful and therefor self-perpetuating.
The fact that it is the Word of God that changes hearts must always be front and center in our hearts and minds. It is not interpretation for living life. It is not application. It is not programs, workshops, seminars, nor fellowship groups. These are all good and have a place, but they are not the active agent in the quickening of the heart. They are not what calls the Saints from the world to the Lord. It is the Word of God that does that. And it is the outworking of Sovereign Grace.
Now, is this proposing the we hear only the Scripture read in Greek or KJV, irrespective of the linguistic abililites of the audience. Definietly not. Though the quickening of the heart is a supernatural occurance, and the understanding of scripture is revelational as well as intellectual, that work is certainly facilitated by simple understanding of the language that is being used. As such, a translation appropriate to the congregation or listener is the jsutifiable choice within reason. Some may ‘prefer’ one translation or another, just as some may have a denominational preference, but that is a tiffle compared to a focus on other than scripture.
Surely it is Jesus alone and Scripture alone that is the key. The Word is the one and only sword of the Lord, cutting the world from the heart of the Saint. So let us support our brother and sisters in the Lord, but always maintain the concentration on the Lord and the Word.