In recent (and most likely future) articles of this thread we have been examining what might appear to be shortcomings of the church, congregational life, and the focus of some preaching. Though these are real issues that need to be examined and hopefully corrected, let us not interpret this for even a moment as taking anything away from the difficult burdens of the preacher (or member for that matter) in today’s congregational environment.
In a world proactively preaching relativism, pluralism and the absolute sovereignty of modern thought (in other words, man) in all matters, the church is potentially the only remnant of truth and the sovereignty of God. The struggle of these two mindsets surrounds, and is a silent participant in, most interactions. God is sovereign in every case, but the conflict is nonetheless felt while living in the world.
The burden laid upon the preacher in the present day church is a difficult one. A sincere soul is often torn between the call of the Lord to preach the Word plainly and directly, and the call of the congregation that lives in the world, possibly with quite worldly expectations concerning church performance, growth, programs, services and more. The church may be view by some as a service organization as much as (if not more than) a conduit for the Word of God alone. This is not deliberate, but it is an understandable byproduct of organizational existence in the world. From this can arise great stress for those upholding the truth.
Further, the clergyman may be viewed as being ’employed’ by the church, and is himself living in the world. He is not impervious to the call of the world, and he is a favourite target for Satan et al. It is all too easy for him to be lured by the expectations and performance values of world, as can any man. Every man is part natural man while living on earth, and as such requires continual protection from the earthly ways of the evil one. This is expecially so for the Preacher.
Let us give praise to our Lord for sustaining our Pastors, and credit to the Pastor who, in the face of wordly pressures encroaching on and in the church, can sustain a Biblical focus. Great encouragement is needed by each one, to help sustain the Biblical focus in the face of modern pressures.
As one views this senario, the singular value of the Biblical perscription of dependence only upon the Lord and Scripture comes sharply into focus. Everything else is suspectible, to one degree or another, to the world. The values of the world press in from all sides (including the inside). Since everything in the world is of the world, this can not be otherwise. Our only hope is the rock of faith, dependence upon the Lord, and concommitant attention to His Word. All else are the byproducts of men, and as such not of the truth.
As it is written in Scripture: “I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and striving after wind.” Ecclesiates 1:14. The only path is through the Word and to the Lord.
Let us hold those who are called to preach and teach up to the Lord in prayer, that they may hold fast to the Word alone, depending upon Jesus alone, and leaving the result to the hand of the Lord alone. And let us thank them for their courage in the face of a daunting task.
Sola Christos. Sola Scriptura.