• By Pastor Boffey
  • on Tuesday, July 5, 2005
Mar.1:22 And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes. Two teaching styles are here contrasted. There was the authoritative approach by which Jesus Christ's ministry was characterized. Then there was the approach of the scribes which, by inference, was obviously not authoritative. It stands to reason that the Holy Spirit by these words was denouncing the Scribes' type of ministry. A gospel minister will ultimately have to decide if he is going to be a minister like the Savior or like the Scribe, a preacher who labors to please God or men. Paul wrote, "...if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ" (Gal.1:10). No man can serve two masters (Mat.6:24). In this, the era of tolerance, ecumenism, and relativism, a gospel minister who stands with Christ stands apart from the crowd. If he preaches with authority, believing he has an authoritative Bible, condemning sin in whatever form it may be found while holding high Almighty God and His sovereignty in saving sinners by grace according to His own will, his popularity in the eyes of the world and even professors of faith is likely to be minimal. His will not be the ministry courted by politicians. His will not be the ministry seen on national television (unless being smeared as cultish). His will not be the ministry of the entertaining "seeker-friendly" mega-church with all of its "loaves and fishes" congregants. He is more likely to be relegated to a little wooden building or a rented room with a small band of believers singing out of a worn-out paperback hymnal. But "Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues without right" (Pro.16:8). One would expect the reprobate world to be at odds with authoritative preaching, for "the carnal mind is enmity against God..." (Rom.8:7). But what about when professors of faith are of the same mind as the world? The prophet Isaiah's fellow church members were "....a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD: Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits: Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us" (Isa.30:9-11). They preferred smoothness and lies to rough, unvarnished truth. This is a horrible attitude! Of this mentality, the Spirit observed, "A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof" (Jer 5:30-31)? Ministers who accommodated such an attitude were said to "cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness" (Jer.23:32). Smoothness and lightness in ministry are as destructive as deceits and lies. Words smoother than butter or softer than oil are the marks of those who have war in their hearts and drawn swords (Psa.55:21). The apostles warned of those who by "good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple" (Rom.16:17-18) and who "speak great swelling words of vanity" (2 Pe.2:18) to lead men astray. Paul did not preach with "enticing words of man's wisdom" (1 Co.2:4), nor did he use "flattering words" (1 Th.2:5). He was not a silver-tongued orator who cajoled his hearers. Au contraire! He was derided as one whose "bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible" (2 Co.10:10) and who was "rude in speech" (2 Co.11:6). He used "great plainness of speech" (2 Co.3:12), emphasizing doctrine over feelings, substance over form, not fearing to step on toes. He knew well the hearts of men and their propensity to tire of sound doctrine and truth, preferring to "after their own lusts...heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears" (2 Ti.4:3). An itch needs to be abraded, not mollified with baby oil, and so Paul instructed Timothy "Preach THE WORD....reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine" (2 Ti.4:2). If a preacher is convinced he has THE WORD OF GOD, he can speak with authority. Woe unto the preacher who believes he only has the word of man which profits nobody (Jer.23:32)! Is it any wonder that in our generation where so few preachers actually believe they have God's infallible word that there is so little Savior-like preaching but so much Scribe-like preaching (per our text)? Enervated Scribe-like preaching which avoids offence may fill pews, coffers and sodden hearts but Savior-like preaching will condemn it. Pied Pipers, it should be remembered, have an appeal to rats. What kind of preaching do you desire?

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