Landmarks of Practice - Preaching
Several weeks back, I mentioned starting a series of blog posts hi-lighting some of the foundations of our faith here at the church. We based the thought on the phrase in Proverbs, “Remove not the ancient landmark.” So I have broken these “landmarks” into four groups: landmarks of practice, tradition, doctrine, and standards. Each week that I am able, I will write on a landmark in each of these groups. Today’s offering comes from the practice group. It is the practice of preaching.
Preaching. What exactly is preaching? The word is used in one form or another over 150 times, all but 12 of those being in the New Testament. The word kerusso, in the Greek, gives us the meaning of proclaiming or publishing, as a herald would publicly cry out news. When I think of this definition, I think of John the Baptist! He was a public announcer of the coming of Christ! He preached a message of repentance. He preached the Kingdom of God! Another definition uses the word “inculcation” which means the action of impressing [upon] by repeated admonitions. We see this kind of proclamation from our Lord and his disciples throughout the gospels and the book of Acts. Paul carried this practice into the churches that he helped establish and the letters that he wrote.
Let me go on record of saying that I have always enjoyed preaching, maybe even love it! I am on record of saying that I love short preaching, long preaching, good preaching and even bad preaching. I just love preaching. So for me to write a critique on preaching, it would be impossible for me to be in favor of dismissing the landmark of preaching from our church. I have observed over the years a push to remove Bible preaching from our churches in favor of a more palatable form of giving information. Many that are moving this direction will move their pulpit off the stage, in favor of a stool and table, creating a more relaxed atmosphere. I am sure that there is a place for this in some part of our life. Is church that place? Are we really called of God to make people more comfortable? Does the proclamation of the truth of the Word of God always make God’s people more comfortable? Not according to what I see in the Bible. Watch the reactions of the lost religious Jews to the preaching of the early church and you will know that they were not comfortable with their message. Paul told us that he was sent “… to preach the gospel.” This he would do, even if the world thought it was foolish. He would do this to show them Christ and lead them to a relationship with Him.
Knowing this, how can we abandon this method established in the Bible? Paul admonished Timothy to “Preach the Word” in his manual for pastors. That command trickles down to every pastor in every Bible believing church throughout the history of Christ’s church. We must hold fast to the landmark of preaching. I promise to do my part to always preach the Word, which is the truth for living. I promise not to water it down. I promise to do my best to give it to you in the right spirit. God’s Word must be proclaimed. His message must be published. His church must be admonished with His Word, so let us preach on!
The following was written by a friend of mine. With his permission, I offer it to you all.
"I do know that if there is ever a point in which a teacher recognizes that these students are their mission field, a transformation within the teacher happens and their approach totally changes. When we treat teaching just as a job, we will not treat it as we should.”
When we view it as a ministry—as serving the Lord, which all aspects of our lives should be--then we will think more about missing unnecessarily, skipping a step here or there, not giving our best, or losing our patience with students, etc. It changes everything when we truly realize that beyond academics are these precious lives. When we do all things as unto the Lord then it changes our daily approach to the very same activities and routines.
When we recognize that these students are our mission field, they are the beloved treasures of God placed in our watch, our stewardship—ours to disciple, love, and by the grace of God ours to help them find Him, love Him, desire Him then it will change things in us.
In our lives they should discover truth, wisdom, care, redemption, discipline, excellence, honor, love, and the all the other attributes of Christ that can flow into their lives from us.
Each day we have to remember what a joy we have to serve the Lord and these students whom He deeply loves and has entrusted us with.
Thanks to each of you for your faithful service to the Lord.
Looking back over our last weekend at the church, I am amazed at the goodness of God. We had a great set of meetings, culminated by a sweet move of the Spirit in our services Sunday night. I cannot imagine a better way to celebrate our churches anniversary.
These occasions do cause me to pause and examine what it is that we are here in our community for. There is value in examining our activities and practices to ascertain whether they are in accordance with the will of God. We are challenged in the Word of God to “remove not the ancient landmarks” but what does that look like? In context, the Bible is referring to physical landmarks, boundaries of physical property, etc. In the spiritual realm, are there boundaries that we must hold to in our coming years at Rose Hill Baptist Church? I believe that there are and hope to use the coming weeks to dive into a number of those “landmark” issues. Included will be issues of practice, issues of tradition, issues of doctrine, issues of standards (both corporate and personal), and so forth. Please feel free to join in the discussion. I welcome any input as to subjects that need to be written about. I hope that you will commit to growing with me in these areas, as we seek to honor and please God in all that we do!
Here’s to another 78 years of …
Loving God & Serving Others!
Navigating adult life can be tough for our young people. They are passionate about making a difference. They soak up information from the world around them like dry sponges! They develop strong opinions about trends of the day and are eager to share them, with or without fear of what others think.
At times, amidst their voicing of these opinions and beliefs, others will challenge and even criticize them openly. They then have the obstacle of opposition to overcome. They may respond in many ways, including taking to social media to share their experience. I’ve seen this sharing lead others in their life to rally to their support, and rightfully so. We should be a voice of support for our young adults.
One thing that I have observed during these times in the development of the minds of our young people is the invariable adult who makes the following (or similar) statement: “You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life!” As a father, pastor and friend to young adults, I cringe when I see that. I can understand the motive of the individual in wanting to support their loved one or friend, but it bothers me on two fundamental levels. One, it is simply not true. Two, it may be encouraging the young person to rebel against a God-given authority in their life.
Let me tackle the first issue. I realize that negativity in life is not desired. It is not fun. In many instances it may not be warranted. However, it is needed. How can we truly be a help to those around us by sharing truth, if what we are sharing isn’t actually truth? In the case that what our young person is sharing is not true, they would need to be corrected and shown the truth. In the Bible, Job shares this thought on chastening: “Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty:” (5:17). Solomon, the wisest man to ever live said “My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction:” (Proverbs 3:11) When someone takes the time to speak truth into your life, resist the urge to turn them away. Rather, examine their correction and see how it can make you better. If we do that, the writer of Hebrews tells us “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” (12:11)
On the other note, we need to be cautious when encouraging our young people in their endeavors. What we mean to say to them and what we are actually saying can be two entirely different things. The statement “You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life!” can be taken as an encouragement to rebel against those who are trying to speak truth to them. This can be their parents, a godly pastor or mentor, or a loving Christian friend. If taken the wrong way, you are tearing them away from those who love them enough to help them.
Finally, I want us to consider other ways of encouraging our young people when they experience criticism. This is where you come in and join the discussion! Comment below with alternative methods or phrases that can challenge our young adults. How can we help them see the benefits of negativity? If we are successful, they can further mature into the productive adults that they want to be, and then make a lasting change in their world.
Hebrews 6:4-6 (KJV) "4 For [it is] impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put [him] to an open shame."
This passage has been used by many false teachers to tell us that we can lose our salvation. There are many things wrong with this teaching, not the least of which being that most who teach that you can lose your salvation, also teach that you can be saved again! This is clearly false, if they are using this passage to teach that you can lose it. It is clearly stated that if they could lose it, they would never be able to be renewed. So, what is the author trying to tell us in this passage.
There are several key thoughts to determining the meaning of this passage. First, remember this rule of interpretation, that you should always consult the clear teachings of the Bible when determining the meaning of the obscure passages. We do this because the Word of God cannot and will not contradict itself. If It did, part of It would not be true, rendering the Bible untrustworthy. So, does the Bible teach that you can lose your salvation? The Bible teaches that the gift of salvation is eternal/everlasting life. If the gift is eternal and you lost it, would that be an eternal gift? The blessing in the Scripture is that we find that we are not the one responsible for securing the gift. We cannot lose what we are not keeping safe!
Look with me at John 10. Our Lord is speaking to the Pharisees and brings up this matter of eternal security. Notice the clear statement in verse twenty-eight, "I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish," signifying that those who are His sheep will never perish. If Hebrews is saying that we can lose our salvation to the point of never getting it back again, then this statement alone would be false. See also the phrase in verse twenty-nine "no man is able to pluck them out" in reference to His sheep's location in His Father's hand. I have said many times that if any man was stronger than God, we should worship that man instead of God. If no man is able to pluck me out of God's hand, then that has to include myself, else I would be stronger than God. Finally, looking at this passage in John, I want to draw your attention to the word "my." Jesus said "My sheep" in reference to all those who are saved. It is important for us to remember that we are God's possession. No matter what we decide to do in this life, we belong to God.
The next thing that I want you to see is that salvation is a gift that brings us into the family of God through the new birth. John's third chapter and first letter will be used to illustrate this clear teaching of Scripture. Jesus said in John 3:3 "...Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." How is it that we are born again? The ever popular verse sixteen says to simply believe. When we believe on Him, verse eighteen says that we "are not condemned." Comforting words indeed. When we look at 1 John chapter five, we find this convincing passage about eternal security in verses 11-13: "11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He that hath the Son hath life; [and] he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. 13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God." Truly we can know that we have eternal life. I mentioned this being in a new family due to our new birth. It is helpful to remember that just as we cannot change our DNA to remove ourselves from our physical parents, neither can we remove ourselves from the family of God. A proper look at the Prodigal in Luke 15 helps us to see that God is always watching for His returning wayward children. He loves us no matter what we have done after our salvation.
The last passage of Scripture that I will draw your attention to is in Ephesians. Ephesians 4:29-30 (KJV) "29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." The argument against eternal security from the opposition is that we use this as a license to sin. This may be the case with some immature believers, however it ought not to be. You see, this passage reminds us that the Holy Spirit has been given the task of sealing us until the day of redemption! He is keeping our eternal destination secure until we are called home to heaven. In this very passage, we are reminded to live a certain way so that we do not grieve Him. Our sin does grieve the Holy Spirit, Who then convicts us of that sin. At the point of conviction, we choose either to repent and live right or ignore/refuse and face the punishment that our loving Father has promised for all those who stray from the path of holiness. At no point in Scripture will you find the Holy Spirit loosing His seal on the life of the believer.
To me, these are all pretty clear teachings that support the doctrine of eternal security. There are many others, however, I do want to get back to Hebrews 6. If the Bible is clear that we cannot lose our salvation, then what is the writer of Hebrews saying in this passage? It cannot be that a saved person can lose his salvation, because that would make God a liar. This simply cannot be so. In keeping with another rule of interpretation, let us look closely at the passage and the context of the passage as well. In the context of the passage itself, the writer is speaking in verses 1-3 of the spiritual growth of the believer. He states clearly that it is the will of God for growth and maturity to happen. It is a natural thing for the child of God to grow, if they are continually fed the Word and apply their life to the exercising of their faith. In this thought, he yields an impossibility for the believer. Notice the word "those" in verse four and the words "they," "them," "they," and "themselves" in verse six. No longer is the writer talking directly to his audience about their own Christian life. He is making a reference to others. There is ample argument about who he is talking about, whether those people are saved or lost. My personal belief is that they are saved. The verbiage of the words "tasted," "enlightened," and "partakers" is too strong for someone who simply heard about salvation and refused to believe. So what the writer is saying here is that the maturing believer, if he could fall away, would be unable to repent again for salvation. Notice that the passage does not say that they actually can fall away, just that "if they shall" then they cannot be renewed again. We have already seen from clear passages of Scripture that it is impossible or anyone to lose their salvation. What is amazing to me here is the reason that it would be impossible to renew them again. It is stated here that Christ would have to be crucified again. We know from Hebrews 10:10 (KJV) "...we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." His death was a one time event to pardon the sins of the whole world. He died once, so that we could be born-again once to life eternal. This term "fall away" is an important one to consider as well. This term is not the same as being apostate. It is simply referring to a setback of sin, not the sin unto death that it is commonly confused with. The difference is in the Greek word that is used, being the same word that the translators called "fault" in Galatians 6:1. So allow me to sum it up the following way. The writer is telling us that if it were possible for a minor set back to cause us to lose our eternal salvation, then it would be impossible for us to ever regain the salvation that was lost. Why is he saying this to them? They were being tempted to return to their works based religion, adding that to their faith in Christ. The foundation had been laid for their new life, rendering the old as unnecessary. The works that they would further do would be born out of their growing in their new life, not out of necessity for their possession of that life. So, when they sin, they need not worry about their eternal salvation. Simply remember that Christ's eternal salvation is sufficient for their everyday slip ups. Simply confess and forsake that sin and go on in their everlasting life. This is true for us today. We cannot sin away our gift of eternal salvation, else it would be impossible for us to be saved. God is a merciful, loving Father Who simply will chastise those whom He loves. There is no possibility of being kicked out of the family, He already promised us that we are secure in Him. Let us rest surely in this promise and continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Loving God & Serving Others,
In Revelation 3:8, we are reminded that at times God sets before us "an open door, and no man can shut it:" to which we have a responsibility to act. Are we going to trust the One Who gave the opportunity to supply all the needs associated with the open door? Are we going to give Him control of our time, talents, and treasures so that others can be blessed by our obedience? Are we committed to following Christ, wherever He leads? Are we committed to mentoring the next generation for the future harvest that is sure to come from those open doors?
Sadly, many times we are satisfied with the status quo. We are content in our own little world. We are comfortable in our own castle, following our own daily routine, leading about our own plans, and fulfilling our own fleshly desires.
What are we missing when we do this? We miss the thrill of the will of God! We certainly miss the overwhelming satisfaction of the provision of God in hard situations. We miss the chance to develop deep relationships with those God would bring into our lives to train for the work.
What doors has God opened to you for service? Never let the fear of the unknown keep you from doing something amazing for God!
As I reflect on the past year here at Rose Hill Baptist Church, I am reminded of the blessings of Church Family. We have already made so many wonderful memories with God's great people and truly count them as family. It is amazing how we have bonded in such a short amount of time. I could not imagine life without these people in it. You may wonder how such a deep bond can come about in such a short time. We share this common bond because of our common relationship in Christ.
Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; (Ephesians 2:19 KJV)
It is this household of God that allows us to experience God's love toward each other. Being His children, we realize the love that the Father has for each of us and can love and accept each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. His love makes this possible. We are reminded of this truth in I John 4.
Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. (1 John 4:7-8, 11 KJV)
The love that God gives, allows us to love folks that we have only newly met. This love is shown as we come together for service, praise, worship, fellowship, etc. It is this love that shows the world that we are God's disciples!
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. (John 13:35 KJV)
If you are reading this article and have not experienced the love that God proved by giving His Son for us, then I would challenge you to read our "God's Free Gift" tab on our web site, rosehillbaptistchurch.net. If you have God's love, but have no church family to share that love with, I would invite you to be our guest at any given service. You can contact us personally at 5019205258, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
God bless you on your journey!
Loving God and Serving Others,