1 Timothy 3:14-15 “I’m writing these things to you so that you may know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.”
The Apostle Paul identified the church as a ‘pillar and buttress of the truth‘. If there is any group of people on the planet that needs to know and represent the truth of Jesus Christ well, it’s the people of God. Representing the teachings of Jesus well doesn’t mean selecting a few verses out of the gospels that suit your position on the latest social issue but requires understanding the whole context of the bible, including the Old Testament, the epistles, as well as the historical and apocalyptic literature that make up the New Testament. Unfortunately, we are witnessing a shift away from truth as the bible reveals, within the church, because of pressure from the surrounding culture. The antichrist spirit is gaining momentum across the media and culture at large, making it easier for fence sitters in the church to choose the broad pathway that leads to death instead of the narrow pathway that leads to life. More and more believers are using Jesus name to justify ideologies that aren’t even in the ball park of what the Scripture teaches. This demonstrates poor exegesis and a growing ignorance of the fundamental teachings of the Word of God. It appears that some believers are basing their beliefs on feelings to suit their conversations with family, peers and voices in the media rather than on the solid rock of God’s Word. It’s becoming a case of the blind leading the blind. The universal church, by and large, has held onto essential orthodox beliefs for 2,000 years because the truths underpinning these beliefs have been painstakingly clear in Gods Word for 2,000 years. It’s only been in recent times that we are now seeing such liberal views of Scripture infiltrate the church on a mass scale. This is a time for the church to be revived in its passion for God and truth, and not only for people and grace. This is a time for the church to be revived in its belief in the authority of Scripture, interpreting it and applying it in a way that honours God first and foremost, whether it’s popular or not. Explosive Insights!
As a preacher, I’m called to proclaim the whole counsel of God, not just the bits that will attract a crowd or keep the polls heading north in my congregation.
In the last 12 months I’ve committed to preaching through books of the bible as the norm, rather than the exception. Many pulpits are filled with life-application, therapy sermons that avoid the tough texts of Scripture. However, my authority for preaching must come from the Scriptures alone (not my personality or influence) and all Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, rebuke, correction and for training in righteousness that the man of God may be competent and equipped for every good work (2 Tim 3:16). I am an expository preacher committed to letting the text speak for itself.
The more I preach the bible, the more my congregation take the bible seriously and the more they listen, weighing the ramifications of what God’s Word is commanding. Preacher, whatever you are excited about, the people will get excited about.
Preaching through books of the bible follows the story of the Scriptures but it also forces you to deal with issues in the text that you would never have dealt with, had you adopted a pick and choose method of reading and preaching. Some of the tough texts of Scripture include: Romans 9; Phil 1:12-30; Ephesians 4:22-33; 1 Timothy 2:8-15; 1 Timothy 3:1-7; 1 Cor 6:12-20; 1 Cor 9:1-14; 1 Cor 11:1-16; 1 Cor 14:26-40; 2 Cor 8-9; Revelation (all of it)… to name a few.
I make no attempt to convince you that I’ve got all these texts covered or neatly packed away in my theological tool box but these have been some of the key texts that I have wrestled with over the years in my ministry and I’ve observed others doing so as well.
Here are 5 reasons you should preach the tough texts of Scripture:
- People are curious about what ‘that’ text really means
- People need help understanding how to apply the tough texts
- People need assurance that the bible is God’s truth to us in this age
- People need to hear what God says about things that displease him
- People need to wrestle with the mystery of God
Over recent years we have witnessed an increase of natural disasters all over the world. Tsunami’s, floods, and cyclones all have a destructive impact on the individuals and nations they affect. They also test the strength of the building structures they come up against. What determines the strength of a building is the foundation on which they are built.
The same is true for our spiritual lives. Challenging circumstances test the strength of the foundations are lives are built upon. Bad news from the doctor, financial pressure, relational strife and dreams not being realized all test the foundation we are building our lives upon.
What are you building your life upon?
In Jesus sermon on the Mount (Matt 7:24-27), he concludes his message by illustrating through a parable the difference between the person who built their house on the sand and the person who built their house on the rock. The house on the sand crashed when the storms of life came its way but the house on the rock stood firm when the storms came because it had been built on the right foundation.
Building your life on anything other than Jesus Christ is building on the wrong foundation (1 Cor 3:11). Storms are bound to come your way, so don’t think you are an exception to the rule but whether you stand or fall will be determined by the foundation you are building upon. The person who builds their life on the rock is the person who hears Jesus’ words and puts them into action. The person who hears but doesn’t apply what Jesus says is setting themselves up for a fall.
The core values we live by are the ideas that have become so important to us, they shape how we live our lives. Being a disciple of Jesus means that God’s ideas are the most important ideas in our lives that shape how we live our lives. A value is an idea that is so important to you, it shapes how you live. What ideas have become so important to you that it shapes how you think, talk and live? I think it’s important to check those ideas in light of what God and his word says about them.
- Write down a list of the core ideas that are so important to you they influence how you live
- Examine your list in light of what God’s Word says about them.
- Make the necessary adjustments or corrections to your thinking by God’s Spirit.