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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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Why are We seeing Weakness in the Professing Church?

The Preacher and PreachingGeoffrey Thomas (pastor of Albert Place Baptist Church, Aberystwyth, Wales):

We are asking why, if the Word of God is life and power, are we seeing such evident weakness in the professing church. And we are suggesting a simple answer — because of a lack of *discriminatory . . . preaching of that Word, preaching like that of Peter at Pentecost. He spoke directly to the consciences of men. He named their sin, held out the threat of God’s punishment, and would not be silent until they began to ask what they had to do. Of course, he spoke lovingly; he loved his hearers. We must love men more than they love themselves. And yet there was a faithfulness in his witness to them of their real state. . . . Our preaching will never approach the power of Peter’s at Pentecost unless we too put our heads through the gates of hell and tell the people that they are not ready to die — that they are unprepared for the great judgment, that soon these gates will close upon them in death, and that then there will be no offers of grace — because sinners do not know it.

What do the New Testament Christians ask for so often? What do we need in our lives and ministries? It is boldness, for “the fearful and unbelieving . . . shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire” (Rev. 21:8). One reason why the gates of hell are not falling before the church is our lack of boldness in preaching. We are not discriminating between Christian and non-Christian; our terminology and application are too general. We are not wielding the sword of the Spirit, but the baton of a conductor. (“Powerful Preaching,” Chapter 14 in The Preacher and Preaching [Presbyterian and Reformed, 1986], p. 378)

*By “discriminatory” he means “making a distinction between believers and unbelievers”.

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