Weekend A La Carte (August 30) - I am grateful to Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary for sponsoring the blog this week. This blog is dependent upon sponsorships, so please do tak...
1 hour ago
I am not and have never been a typical Welsh preacher. I felt that in preaching the first thing that you had to do was to demonstrate to the people that what you were going to do was very relevant and urgently important. The Welsh style of preaching started with a verse and the preacher then told you the connection and analysed the words, but the man of the world did not know what he was talking about and was not interested. I started with the man whom I wanted to listen, the patient. It was a medical approach really--here is a patient, a person in trouble, an ignorant man who has been to quacks, and so I deal with all that in the introduction. I wanted to get the listener and then come to my exposition. They started with their exposition and ended with a bit of application.
One of the most striking features of this chapter is that the people really do not seem to be aware of their guilt. They cannot see why they should face judgment. "Why has the Lord decreed such a great disaster against us?" they ask. "What wrong have we done? What sin have we committed against the Lord our God?" (16:10). One of the most terrible indices of how far a people have strayed from righteousness is the degree to which they can no longer perceive their own guilt. Men and women who truly love righteousness and integrity are invariably aware when they breach it. The most holy people are blissfully aware of their corruptions and idolatries. So we must ask ourselves: where on this sort of spectrum are our churches found? Or our culture? Are we characterized by profound contrition, or by a frank inability to think that we have really done anything all that wrong? What does that say of us? What does that say about the Lord's stance toward us?
When we take a stand because we think it is wise or right to do so, we must also be willing to bear whatever consequences it may entail. Under such circumstances two things we must be on our guard against:
1. We must not allow the criticism that may be directed against us to embitter us against our critics. There is a real danger here, and we need to be on our guard against it.
2. We must not allow oursleves, however severly we may be denounced, to swerve from what we believe to be right, or proper simply to avoid criticism.
God challenges Jeremiah to find a single honest man on the streets of Jerusalem (5:1), anticipating the search of Diogenes in the Greek world. Even one such person wold have been enough, according to God, to forestall judgment on the city. But of course that is another way of saying how slippery the moral life of the city had become, how extensive the sin was, how insincerity and moral corrosion had damaged the city's children.Carson ends by asking, "How many of these elements are playing out today?"
Initially Jeremiah thinks that perhaps the negative results of his search could be laid at the door of the disadvantages of the lower classes. Of course, even the poor were supposed to know and keep the Law of God, but it is compassionate to make allowances. So Jeremiah goes off to examine the sophisticated, the privileged, the articulate--and finds no less moral rot there than elsewhere (5:4-5). Intelligent sinners use their intelligence to sin; sophisticated sinners concoct sophisticated reasons for thinking their sin is not sin; upper-crust sinners indulge in upper-crust sin. "But with one accord they too had broken off the yoke and torn the bonds" (5:5).
It is the function of economists, not the pulpit, to work out plans of reconstruction. But it is emphatically the function of the pulpit to stab men broad awake to the terrible pity of Jesus, to expose their hearts to constraint of that divine compassion which haloes the oppressed and the suffering and flames in judgment against every social wrong.... There is no room for a preaching devoid of ethical directness and social passion, in a day when heaven's trumpets sound and the Son of God goes forth to war.
God Exposed will call pastors and church leader to embrace and defend expositional preaching as a means to strengthen and grow the church. Expositional preaching - that which has as its aim to explain and apply a particular portion of God's Word - is especially important in a day when many are abandoning faithfulness to the Scripture in their pulpit ministries. This conference will encourage and train pastors whose primary calling is ministering the Word of God to their people.