Friday, May 12, 2006

The Church Effeminate: Preaching to the heart

Recently, I have started reading approximately a chapter a day of the book entitled The Church Effeminate, a collection of essays edited by John W. Robbins of the Trinity Foundation, of course in light of Scripture, for my daily Bible study. Here are some excerpts from an essay entitled Preaching to the Heart by Dr. Jay E. Adams:

... Spirit empowered, Biblical preaching strikes squarely at the heart. It elicits a response. No hearer can remain apathetic. He must respond. To speak of preaching to the heart, then, is to speak of preaching that brings a definite response; it is preaching that evokes words and action from the listener. (p. 123)

It may also be said that preaching that penetrates or cuts through to the heart is preaching that elicits a genuine response — whether is be faith or fury. Preaching that goes to the heart does not leave the listener apathetic.

In contrast, preaching that does not go to the heart of a man is preaching without any geniune effect. While the listener may express gratitude for the help he has received, the words on his lips do not flow from heartfelt conviction. In time, his speech and actions will reflect the true condition of his heart. "By their fruits shall you know them." When the inner man is truly affected by the Word of God for good, that will lead to a positive, lasting change in his outward behavior. The outer and inner man wil come into closer sync through discernable patterns of growth.

So you can see how desirable it is to preach to the heart. Indeed, a strong Biblical case could be made that unless preaching penetrates deeply enough to affect the inner life, it is not preaching at all. True Biblical preaching changes people. It did in Bible times, and there is no reason why it will not do so today. (p.124-125)

If there is one characteristic that typifies modern preaching, it is its insipid, obsequious approach to speaking the truth. So unlike the early preachers, the Reformers, and the great preachers of all time, many modern Bible-believing preachers seem afraid to tell it like it is. ... It [Modern day preaching] is basically a willingness to compromise — even God's truth — which stems from a lack of boldness. (p. 125)

But there is nothing rude or crude about the preaching in the bok of Acts. The preaching found there is straightforward, clear, explicit, hard-hitting, and in short — bold. In fact, the only feature of apostolic preaching described in Acts is its boldness.

It was said that when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, they recognized that "they has been with Jesus". The way some prissy Christians today look aghast at any boldness in preaching, you would think instead that a bold preacher has been with the devil! (p. 125)

A bold preacher is one who has no fear of speaking the truth — even when it hurts. Many ministries are hampered today simply because of the fear of men. ...

In some circles, the fear of controversy is so great that preachers and congregations following after them will settle for peace at any cost even at the cost of truth, God's truth. .. But why do we think that we can get along in this world — or for that matter, even in the church — without conflict and controversy? Jesus didn't. Paul didn't. None of the preachers of the apostolic age who faithfully served their Lord were spared controversy. (p. 126)

Boldness characterized the preaching of the spotles and other early preachers. (p. 127)

Indeed, there is only one way to preach to hearts: to preach from God's heart; but God has revealed his heart only in his written Word.

How tragic, therefore, that men in the pulpit prattle on about the ideas of other men, share their own opinions, and feed God's sheep on diets of everything else. All the while, food provided by God — available, nourishing, life-giving — is almost totally neglected. Preacher, you will preach to the heart only when you preach from God's heart. You will preach from God's heart only when you know what is in his heart. And you will know what is in his heart only when you know His Word. You must dedicate yourself, therefore, to a thorough study of that Word so that you will truly become a workman in the Word who does not need to be ashamed, because you have accurately handled the Word of Truth (2 Tim. 2:15) in your preaching. (p. 128-129)

1 comment:

Vincent Chia said...

Hi Daniel, Glad you found this book! This Clarkian site has some interesting material on the Orthodox Presbyterians and the Westminster Seminary. Sad ending.