About Jesus Steve Sweetman
now 60 years old. I've been
around church all my life and have observed that Christians distinguish
between preaching and teaching. Preaching
is inspirational while teaching is instructional. We
seem to prefer being inspired instead of being educated.
Generally speaking, Sunday sermons are more inspirational than
instruction is routinely left to a less attended mid-week meeting, and
even then, it's not necessarily in-depth instruction.
That's left to a Bible college classroom.
preachers have used inspirational sermons to motivate people in many
directions over the years. One
direction has traditionally been to an altar.
In more recent times there might be another reason for
motivational messages. The
"dumbing down" mentality that pervades western culture has
crept into the church. Listening
to an inspiring message takes less mental energy than thinking through a
well balanced, hermeneutical
based, exegesis of Biblical issues.
The result is what I call "inspired ignorance".
don't think the New Testament actually differentiates between preaching
and teaching. I suggest that
the apostle Paul, Peter, and others, taught the Word of God and left the
inspiring up to the Holy Spirit. I
suggest that they understood preaching to be teaching. The
Bible itself is clearly instructive by nature.
It's all about Judeo- Christian history and doctrine.
apostle Peter spoke the first recorded Christian sermon.
It's found in Acts 2. After
an opening sentence, he quotes from Joel 2:28 - 32 which takes 5 verses
in our English Bible. The
following 3 verses explains this quote from Joel.
The next 4 verses consists of a quote from Psalm 16:8-11,
followed by 8 verses of explanation.
He then quotes Psalm 110:1, followed by 6 verses of instruction,
which includes a warning to his audience that might be considered
motivational. Acts 2:40
states that Peter spoke many other words, which I assume followed the
same pattern. The result of
Peter's teaching, not preaching as we understand preaching, was that
"those who excepted his message were baptized". (Acts 2:41)
Simply put, those to whom Peter spoke thought through what he
taught and were cut to the heart by the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:37) This
resulted in their acceptance of the gospel and subsequent salvation.
Peter taught. The
Holy Spirit inspired.
spoke the second recorded Christian message.
His message takes up 45 verses in Acts 7.
It's pure history, pure teaching, something many find tedious and
boring. If Stephen could
have had access to a power-point presentation, I'm sure he would have
used it. Was his audience
inspired? Yes, but not in
the way that would appeal to most preachers.
Stephen's message didn't result in the baptism of new believers.
It resulted in his death. Teaching
Biblical truth can be dangerous at times.
That's becoming more evident these days.
far from convinced that the first apostles were interested in helping
people to feel inspired. I
believe they were more interested in people having a clear understanding
of God's Word. With this
clear understanding and the inspiring conviction of the Holy Spirit,
people could seriously and rationally count the cost of discipleship.
You can't count the cost unless you know something about what
you're getting yourself into. If
you study the apostle Paul, you'll notice that he didn't just appeal to
people's hearts, but to their intellects.
Choosing to hand your life over to Jesus isn't about feeling
inspired. It's about
understanding the truth and committing yourself to it.
Then, with the help of the Holy Spirit, you live what you
Greek word "euaggetizo" is translated as "preach" in
our English Bible. It simply
means "to announce". That's
it. It has nothing to do
with inspiration, motivation, or surprisingly enough, entertainment.
Mark 16:20 tells us that the apostles preached, or announced, the
gospel, while Jesus confirmed their announcement with miraculous and
inspirational signs. Acts 2
is a prime example of this.
my estimation, today's style of preaching has less to do with in-depth
Bible teaching and more to do with inspiration, motivation, and even
entertainment. The lives of
men and women are only changed by being instructed in God's Word in the
presence of the Holy Spirit.
is a serious issue for us today. Hosea
4:6 states that God's people are "destroyed because of lack of
knowledge". The text
doesn't say God's people are destroyed because of lack of inspiration.
Inspiration is easily found these days.
A good worship team can inspire the uninspired.
What is hard to find these days is a well balanced, in-depth,
systematic, hermeneutical based, exegesis of the Bible that the Holy
Spirit can carry to the hearts and lives of people.
warned those in the northern kingdom of
722 B.C., the Assyrian army swept across
western church today and the nations in which she lives, needs to take
Hosea's warning seriously. Many
church groups are on the "eve of destruction".
Others have already fallen, due to a systematic and well thought
out attempt to both rethink and then reject Biblical
truth. I believe our
persistence on being inspired and not educated has led to our present
"inspired ignorance". Don't
let this Biblical illiteracy destroy you.