The Centrality of the Gospel in Preaching 4
The worship of God is to be more than the congregation being amused. Worship of God must not be equated with The Tonight Show or Late Night with David Letterman. God is the object of worship and as such, it is to be done in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). Worship is not about amusing and entertaining the masses but rather expressing heartfelt devotion to God reflected in melody and lyric, the observance of the sacraments, prayer, and the expositional preaching of the Word of God: that not only appeals to the emotions, but also to the mind and the will.
There is also the stress for the church to become more culturally relevant or important to the fallen world. This often entails adapting the message the church communicates to the felt needs and desires of the surrounding and fallen culture. The church, it is argued, no longer seeks to transform the culture with the power of the gospel preached, but rather as much as possible to embrace the current cultural trends in order to be perceived by the culture as being “cool” or “with it.”
God has determined the church’s message, not the worldly cultural given to the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (I John 2:15-17). While it is imperative for the church to understand the unconverted to whom it attempts to minister, it must not endeavor to dilute or moderate the truth of the gospel in doing so.
The emphasis on pragmatism endangers the centrality of the gospel in preaching. This uniquely American philosophy teaches the end justifies the means, that there are no inherent and absolute values and what is important and valued above all is what works. Therefore, the church jettisons the expositional preaching of the gospel for a methodology of ministry that stresses results. Filling the pews or stackable auditorium chairs becomes the motivation for what the church does rather than filling the pulpit with the truth of God’s Word. If the gospel offends people, and it does, then the prevailing reasoning is that the church must replace the gospel with a message of tolerance, acceptance, and compassion. In short, the church must not offend.
While it is true that the gospel offends, the preaching of the gospel must not be done in an offensive manner. The herald of the gospel must communicate in language that does not interfere with the content and doctrine of the gospel he is preaching.
Additionally, there is also today the emphasis on personal truth. The objective facts and truth when the gospel is proclaimed is replaced by one’s own “personal Jesus.” This is a Jesus who would never send anyone to hell, who was a good moral teacher, and who preached love and acceptance regardless of the tenacity and ferocity of anyone’s sin. The perspective is that the gospel becomes whatever you want it to be. The perspective is held that there are no absolute truths contained in the gospel because there is no absolute truth in the culture, except for the individual’s absolute truth.