Let me start with a confession. If you knew me 10 years ago I wouldn't have known what the title of this post meant. I did not pay attention to the sermon. In fact when I was at church (which was rare) I would be drawing in my bulletin, thinking about what was for lunch or glancing at the clock every 3 or 4 minutes just waiting for the message to end. I called myself a Christian, read the Bible when it suited me and attended church just for show. At the time I did not appreciate what was being presented by our servants of God. Fast forward to now where I love listening to God's word, learning to read the Bible regularly, and I actually pay attention to the sermon! There are still times that I will lose focus of whats being said but that is only if the person has the voice of a robot. Because lets be honest here, you can have the greatest sermon ever written but no one is going to listen if you sound like a machine.
Today Ricky and I had the privilege of listening to Dr. David Allen preach on the sacrifice of Christ. He took text from Leviticus 16:22 and Isaiah 52 and 53 where the coming of Jesus and what was going to happen was prophesied. He took a verse by verse approach to the scripture giving us an explanation of the verse and a description of what was happening. This was one of the best examples of expository preaching that I have seen. Some may consider it dry and boring but Dr. Allen was able to keep our interest by invoking passion and emotion to the text. Isaiah 53 is not a dry passage. It describes the coming of the exalted one, gives the description that he is going to be rejected but he will remove our transgressions by taking them all on his shoulders and bearing our sins for us. It was a joy to listen to Dr. Allen. Anyone interested in this sermon should go to www.swbts.edu and click on chapel archives.
I was blessed by the approach Dr. Allen took today in chapel. But some people would not be. Why is that? Why wouldn't someone hear the great news being told to us? Sadly it is because our churches are getting too scared to preach the text and are more worried about attracting people to church. Pastors want to reach the lost by trying to imitate the culture but in doing so they fail at what they try to succeed. The church buildings are becoming malls, the ministries are watered down as if they are hiding the true meaning of God's message, and the sermons are turning into comedy routines. Don't misunderstand. Humor is not a bad thing. Illustrations and stories are great. But when you leave out the scripture and do the disservice of keeping the congregation out of the loop then there is a major problem. But some of our churches are afraid of expository preaching because they don't want to scare the crowd. How is the flock going to get any idea of what is going on if God's word is not involved? Let me suggest that there are different ways of preaching. Expository preaching is not the only fail proof method. But pastors want to do right by their congregation and present God's word as it is supposed to be. It is okay to mix up styles of message delivery. Not all sermons have to be a verse by verse bible study. Some of my favorite sermons were not of this form. However the message was not diluted so it could be "people friendly". Lets face it. The Bible is not all pretty words and trite platitudes. It has solid biblical truth some of which is not pretty. It explains of God's judgement, Solomons life, and Jesus Crucifixion which do not paint a picture. The message is necessary though so we can understand how we are to be as servants of Christ.
Dr. Allen did not use funny illustrations today. He did not get the crowd laughing. Instead he got the audience truly paying attention to a message that is effective and important. If we are to understand the Lord's will we have to actually accept the Word. We cannot be caught up in cultural poison that could lead us down the wrong path. Let me also mention that Dr. Allen has known to get us laughing in chapel. But today he was led to give us verse by verse insight of the impending coming of Christ. We as a church have to start reading, hearing, and spreading the word unapologetically, compassionately, and boldly. Do not be afraid to use the scripture. God gave us that so we know His plans for us.