Friday, May 8, 2009

Preach till they get it

Preaching is about communication, communication of truth, God's truth. It's not about communicating ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord. Since this is so, it stands to reason that if we haven't communicated truth, if understanding is not possible (not supernaturally restrained by God) because we have failed to take God's truths and properly explained them, then we have preached in vain. If that is preaching, then we might as well preach in foreign languages. Preacher stop and listen to yourself for a minute, Christian stop and listen to yourself for a minute, would you have understood yourself five years ago? If you're speaking to a lost person, how would you have interpreted what you just said? It might take longer and so what, preach it till they get it!

I say this being reminded once again of how necessary it is to be specific when preaching. I was preaching at the County Jail last Sunday and there were about 20 men who sit around several tables. In the meantime distractions are always around (this Sunday they had a 'shakedown', so everyone was trying to see where these officers were going, on top of that they were doing something with the female prisoners (who are not on that floor) who walked past the windows of our room). I preached about the need for and the guarantee of fruit in true conversion. I spoke largely out of Mt 7 spelling out the terror of people thinking they have Christ but are still headed towards hell. I repeated over and over again regarding the new heart God gives us, the impossibility of us 'doing' something to be saved, that's it's a work that God must do. I explained John 15 and how if we are branches connected then we obviously bear fruit, I explained how the narrow door and narrow way are connected in Christ be our only hope and our example. Well the responses seemed good, the attention of the majority was fixed and throughout many nods and lowering of eyes (seeming conviction). THEN....... I listed things that DO NOT 'make' you a Christian (before that I explained how in Mt 5 we 'do' (effect/works)because we 'are' (cause/grace of faith), not we 'are' (become Christians) because we 'do'(earn)) like church attendance, charity, reading the bible, quoting verses, praying a prayer, preaching, teaching, tithing, communion, baptism...etc. Well that's when it suddenly dawned on a couple of the men, one young guy in particular who (about 45mins into my message) who seemed to be getting it until now, angrily blurted out 'so your saying my pastor who told me that no matter what i do after i get baptised, i'm saved', you're saying he lied?' With all the force within me I said 'if that's what he said then YES!!! Well he kept shaking his head and said 'that's not true, if you get baptised then you're cool, you don't know what you're talking about' and of course a couple more guys made a comment or two. Yet there were also guys telling the kid to listen because he was wrong. Well as quickly as I could I once again confronted head on that objection, and breezed through how baptism is symbolic, and restated some of the things I already said and added some more scriptures proclaiming 'but what does the scripture say?'.
One young guy who remembered me from when he was in juvenile jail (maybe 4+ yrs) quoted back several of my statements saying 'that's exactly what I was doing....that was me..' he also was the one who interrupted the chaos (that i mentioned) with the question 'ok so if those things don't save us, then what does, what do we have to do?' hopefully this leads to salvation (I get the opportunity to preach at that same spot the next two Sundays, so I hope the same people will be there and saved).

I've seen this so many times, where you can speak in general terms and get much love, many amens and then when you start spelling out what you mean; in otherwords once it's brought home then watch expressions change. I would especially be careful about preaching the 'specifics' that you KNOW people will say amen to and not addressing the problems you KNOW are being ignored.


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