I once heard a pastor tell me that he avoids prodding and poking from the pulpit. We were interrupted so I couldn’t respond, but reading this by Darrin Patrick made me think of that conversation. I like how Patrick puts it.
“Scripture is exceedingly clear about what God loves and what God hates. This is why Scripture is extremely offensive to people. Jesus warns us that this offense will be so strong that it will cause people to persecute us when they hear its message. While in most countries of the world you will not be harmed or killed by the government for preaching the gospel, the reality is that you will be persecuted in one way or another. In Western culture, almost any talk about sin will incur mocking, ridicule, and slander. In fact, the only ‘sin’ upheld and exposed by our culture is to call something a sin.
“Yet it is clear that we are to preach Scripture, thereby exposing both the sin of the church and the sin of the culture. If there is no challenging of the sinful heart, there is no gospel preaching. If there is no astonishment at the forgiveness of sins, there is no gospel preaching. If there is no joy in Christ’s victory over indwelling sin, there is no gospel preaching. Contemporary preaching tends to soften the offense of the gospel so that its message will be more palatable to modern sensibilities. We minimize sin in order to minimize offense. But in so doing, we subvert God’s Word with human words, commit the sin of idolatry, and rob people of the joy and forgiveness found in the gospel.”
“The message of the gospel exposes our sin, but it does not end there. …We must also point people to Christ and the forgiveness and healing that he brings. If we expose sin without magnifying Christ, we have failed. …The goal of sin-exposing preaching is to help people turn from their sin to the joy and forgiveness found solely in the gospel” (pp. 151, 153).
Well said. By the way, since I’m doing some work at an upcoming church planting conference, stay tuned for more posts on church planting and missions books. At the outset I wish to thank Crossway Books and P&R Publishing for their review copies (and the other publishers I’m working with – more on that later). If you’re interested in missions and church planting, be sure to check back often in the next few weeks.