The End of Preaching by Paul D Mooney
We are at war! There, I said it.
In President Obama’s address to the nation on September 10, 2014, there was a glaring omission in his talking points. Citizens and pundits alike came alive concerning his reluctance to concede or state the fact that America is at war with the radical elements of Islam. America’s position matters, and the President’s refusal to make a declaration of his position on the matter is significant. Obviously, no one wants war, violence or killings. This is not the point. What is noteworthy and distressing is the President’s overall ambiguity. Some would argue that his clever use of wordplay and outright denial is a strategy in and of itself. Any way you look at it, it certainly does not appear that America is taking a position of strength on the issue. The President’s approach to the quagmire in the Middle East is weak, and has been interpreted by much of the world to be dangerously political at the very least and, at the very worst, intentionally distractive of some unknown, obfuscated agenda. At the end of the day, America and her allies must delineate with clarity their position when it comes to terrorism, and the despicable acts being perpetrated by rogue groups that are infiltrating our countries. We must take a definitive position. We must make a commitment. That is the point.
The biblical parallel of the Laodicean church comes to mind here. Their weakness had nothing to do with outside forces. Their fragility was in their lukewarmness. They were not really in danger from the outside. The enemy was within their own hearts. Their inability to remain vigilant and their willingness to ease into the tepid waters of compromise left them vulnerable and ripe for attack.
“Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17).
They had lost their vision and their ability to see the big picture. They were at the point that they needed a balm, an eye salve to bring them back to visual health. On their own and with their own rationale, they could not see or perceive their deteriorating spiritual condition. So comes the Spirit, pushing them, encouraging them to “overcome” (Revelation 3:21). They had an obligation to fight the battle, engage the enemy, and to address the issue of their own blindness. The Spirit called for repentance, demanding that the arrogance cease… in essence, calling for the question, do you not realize that you are “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked?”
In all honesty, we know our beloved America is in trouble. Morality is widely rejected, our babies are casually aborted, drug use is out of control. We daily face the societal implications of rampant homosexuality. The nation is obsessed with pleasure, addicted to sports, entertainment and drunkenness. We send our children into a public educational system that has been strategically transformed into a political indoctrination factory that denigrates basic morals and Christianity. Draconian laws are destroying our liberties and freedoms. We can no longer claim that we are a Christian nation. And even of those who are still wearing the label, too many have lost the heart and conviction that being Christian demands. The denominal world is adrift, and the Pentecostal movement is rife with worldly churches, compromised pulpits, and confused, uncommitted members. Sadly, we must confess that even among us there has been a falling away.
Personally, I feel we are rapidly approaching an irreversible crossroads. When God established His New Testament church, He chose to use men to carry the Gospel to deliver His message. And, He chose a most unconventional method: preaching (1 Corinthians 1:21). However, my grave concern is that, in our arrogance and human wisdom, in our lukewarmness, we come to the end of preaching – the place where preaching has no effect. The end of preaching… a condition not so much brought upon us by the enemy as by our own selves – our indifference, our callousness, our laziness, our unwillingness to commit; our unwillingness to declare war upon the enemy of our soul. “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables”(2 Timothy 4:3-4).
Modern Christians are becoming so locked into their own feelings, beliefs and opinions that it is difficult to awaken them to biblical imperatives at all. Their minds are seduced with a smooth elixir of worldly philosophy, false religion and personalized prophecies rendered to them by the self-appointed prophets whom they seek out for guidance and authority. They have been allured into complacency, ease and doctrinal ambiguity. They cling to false teaching and false ideas as if they have a right to their own imaginations without consequence. Their vision of truth and sound doctrine, “the faith once delivered to the saints,” is dimming (Jude 1:3).
What of the call to righteousness? What of preaching? Preachers must preach, but when preaching falls on deaf ears, when it falls on hardened hearts, is it of any use? To what end do we preach if not to bring men into a right relationship with God? There is a point in the human soul where there is an end of preaching, a point at which there is not really an interest in the Word. Sure, the ear may hear and respectfully listen, but if the hearer has deceived himself into becoming a hearer only, not a doer, then the incongruity cannot stand (James 1:22). The true preaching stops – it becomes theater, entertainment, a mere human art without the eternal objective of reconciliation. True preaching cannot force itself upon the resistant heart or upon the arrogant mind. It must be received.
The Apostle Paul warned the Galatians that in rejecting the Spirit and keeping themselves under the law, that “Christ is become of no effect unto you” (Galatians 5: 4). The purpose of Christ is to reconcile the world unto himself. “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation”(2 Corinthians 5:19).
We are in a war of reconciliation. That is the purpose of preaching and teaching. When preaching does not call for reconciliation with Christ, or for souls to become Christlike, we cease to be ministers of Christ; as warriors in His army we have come to the end of our weaponry. We have nothing else but preaching. Being reconciled to God is the end game. Those who choose not to reconcile themselves shall not inherit the Kingdom of God (Galatians 5). We are at war. Righteousness will always oppose evil. The Revelation of Revelations…
“And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war” (Revelation 19:11).
“And make war.” We are at war against all that is evil and false, against all that is anti-Christ, and all that is unholy. Fight the good fight in your life, your church, in your associations, in your family, and in your own heart and spirit.