FORGET NONE OF HIS BENEFITS
volume 18, number 3, January 17, 2019
“. . and this city I will make a curse to all the nations of the earth.” -Jeremiah 26:6
Would Your Preacher Preach at a Revoice Conference?
Preacher, what about you? If invited to speak at the 2019 pro-homosexual conference Revoice to be held in St. Louis or the Identity in Christ conference hosted by <livingout.org>, last June in England, would you accept the invitation? If your preacher was invited to speak at the Mormon Tabernacle, would you support him and encourage him “to go for it?” If he did accept the invitation, could he be charged with fraternizing with the enemy, of giving credence to their movement?
A prophetic preacher would jump at the chance. What would he say?Consider this example from church history.
Early on Tuesday morning, August 19, 1561 Mary, Queen of Scots, arrived at Lieth and made her way later that day to the Palace at Holyrood in Edinburgh. This occurred in the midst of the Scottish Reformation being led by John Knox. Mary wasted no time in imposing Roman Catholicism on the people, for the following Sunday, August 24, she took the Mass in the Holyrood chapel from a Roman Catholic priest. John Knox, the Presbyterian reformer also wasted no time in speaking strongly and prophetically against Mary’s idolatrous action. He said in his sermon at St. Giles Presbyterian Church on August 31 that God regularly brings great plagues on nations which practice idolatry. He said that he feared one Mass more than ten thousand soldiers whose purpose is to suppress the whole religion. Many mocked his sermon, saying that such fear was unfounded, that it was improper for him to renounce idolatry by the Queen, that to do so was not his responsibility. And besides, it was said that Knox was not sticking to the text of his sermon. Shortly thereafter, Queen Mary summoned Knox to Holyrood Palace and sought to silence him, first by intimidation and then by a woman’s greatest weapon—tears. To no avail. Knox had suffered imprisonment as a galley slave for two years. He was not about to be intimidated by any person, especially an idolatrous Queen. The portrait of their encounter hangs in my library and continues to be a great encouragement to me. We need prophetic preaching now, as much as ever.
Consider this Biblical example of prophetic preaching. Jeremiah, the prophet to the southern kingdom of Judah, was called in 626 B.C. by Yahweh to his noble but difficult task, to preach the prophetic word to the nation, urging them to turn back to the true and living God. The time of renewal, begun under King Josiah in 628 B.C., was given greater impetus by the rediscovery of the Book of the Law in 621 B.C. The renewal, however, was short lived. The people quickly returned to their idolatrous ways. So around 609 B.C., during the reign of Jehoiakim, the son of good King Josiah, Yahweh instructed Jeremiah to stand in the court of the Lord’s house (the place of worship, but also symbolically the center of Jewish power and authority) and to speak all His words which He commanded him. “Do not,” said Yahweh, “omit a word.” If they listened to Jeremiah’s prophetic word, then Yahweh promised not to bring His calamity on them. He went further, saying that a refusal to listen to His prophets would cause Him to make the Lord’s house like Shiloh (Jeremiah 7:12). The presence of the Lord was taken from Israel in 1 Samuel 4:12 when the Philistines routed them at Shiloh. Following what He said earlier (Deuteronomy 28), Yahweh also said that He would make Jerusalem a curse to all the nations of the earth, if they were unwilling to repent and return to the Lord.
My friends—we need modern day prophets like Jeremiah and John Knox. Preacher, are you preaching prophetically? What are these men like? What is their message? How do they preach? What are we to do? Even a cursory look at the Jeremiah 26 text makes clear that a prophet is to speak his Master’s message. He is not to omit a word. He is not to mitigate, in any way, the word of impending doom, which is certain, unless the only remedy for deliverance is pursued, namely repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Knox told Mary that her idolatry would cause both God’s amicable presence and comfortable defense to leave them, and once that happened, what would become of them? So a modern day prophet must proclaim, without reservation, the word of judgment on anyone, on any nation, which refuses to repent of idolatry and flee to Jesus, the only Savior of sinners. He must not omit any word of God’s message. He must make specific, personal, heart searching application to everyone who hears him. He must preach for a verdict.
Please note that prophets do not merely speak about hell, judgment, or impending doom.They do not speak of sin in general, nebulous terms. They do not speak euphemistically about homosexuality, merely suggesting it is contrary to human flourishing. They call it perversion, an abomination, that which desecrates the Imago Dei in those who practice it. They call the SCOTUS decision which redefined marriage a usurpation of power. They warn of consequent impending doom.
If invited to speak at Revoice or the Mormon Tabernacle and the preacher fails to speak to the specific sins of his auditors (homosexuality on the one hand, and the false gospel of Mormonism on the other), then the preacher has copped out and failed in his mission.
And he must preach the full gospel. To simply speak of justification in general terms, “We all can be justified by faith in Jesus if we just believe” without stressing the rebellious heart of every unconverted person, making clear that one must be born again, and when that happens, by God’s grace, the person now has the capacity to walk in newness of life and repentance.
If he will not do this, then he is doing far more harm that good. He is giving his auditors a false assurance that all is well with them. He is giving aid to the enemy, the devil, and those who are following him.
It seems that few pastors today speak about hell, judgment, and impending doom on our nation. Prophetic preachers, however, speak directly to their audiences, warning them that the Judge is standing right at the door (James 5:9), that there is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and destroy (James 4:12). They make ample use of the second person singular and plural pronoun “you.” While introducing their sermon, in an effort to identify with those to whom they are preaching, preachers can use “we”; and when expounding the text, showing how the Biblical author was addressing the people of his day, they can say “they”. However, when it comes to application, when it is time to bring the full force of that specific Biblical truth upon the hearts, consciences, and minds of his auditors, the prophetic preacher must soberly, reverently, and directly say, “Now, this word applies to you. You must repent. You must turn from your wicked ways. You must run to Jesus for refuge. Your refusal will bring God’s just condemnation upon you.”
And what must we do? We need prophetic preaching, now more than ever. We need pastors and street preachers who will catch fire with the anointing of the Spirit, who will speak boldly and directly to people, warning them to walk in holiness lest they make shipwreck of their faith and go down to hell, while thinking all is well with their souls.
We preachers, generally speaking, have failed to make the clear trumpet sound of judgment on recalcitrant sinners. We have failed to lift up adequately the glory and excellencies of the Savior because we have not shown the vile nature of sin.
We must have prophetic preaching, in the pulpits and in the streets. We must warn people to flee from the coming wrath of God and to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.