Every time I preach I tremble at the thought of making as sure as I can that I present the truth accurately. In my mind I picture Jesus sitting in the congregation, listening to everything I say. My goal is for HIM to say about what I say… “Yes Ron, you were faithful to My Scriptures. You spoke truthfully what I wrote from eternity past.”
Because I am so passionate about God’s Truth, I am constantly testing what I hear preached and proclaimed (I listen to a lot of different preachers). When I hear a truth, doctrine, or passage of Scripture handled improperly or unfaithfully, I have as visceral a reaction as when my favorite football team fumbles on the 1 yard line.
This week I heard a preacher present Scripture out of context… present a theological doctrine unfairly… and assert a theological point in a manner that did not respect fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. While I may have agreed with some of his points, the overall way he presented what he did to God’s people was not well done.
Nobody has the right to say whatever they want about the Scripture! Nobody has the freedom to teach from the Scripture anything other than what it plainly states. Nobody can decide to make the Scripture say anything other than what the Scripture actually means. Consider the following…
2 Peter 1:19 The prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation.
2 Tim 2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
2 Cor 4:2 We have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word…
Gal 1:10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Honestly, there are things in Scripture that trouble me. There are things God wrote that run against my mind, will, and emotions. There are passages of Scripture that when I contemplate them I think to myself… “This is a hard saying! Who can accept it?!” Confession. My biggest struggle is: How can two people study the same Scripture… pray to the same God… be led of the same Holy Spirit… come to different conclusions… and both be right?! That doesn’t make sense to me because God is not the God of confusion… but peace.
Here is where it gets hard for most preachers… at least initially: Presenting God’s Truth accurately to His people when you know some won’t like it and will probably fuss about what you say. It is precisely at these points that great patience… care… grace… & mercy are needed BY THE PREACHER. Just because a person doesn’t like something doesn’t mean it isn’t true. And just because someone won’t like the Scripture doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be proclaimed either!
I have a phrase I like to use ever-so-often when I come to a difficult passage… “If you’re going to get mad at someone, get mad at God. He wrote it!” This much I know… I had better be careful to proclaim God’s Truth faithfully… REGARDLESS of what it is or whether people will like it. EVERYONE who proclaims and/or teaches Scripture better take care also.