Sorting the Doctrine from the Dribble
I’m sure you’ve heard it before; I certainly have - with grinding mechanical regularity… “What a great preacher; Such an ordained man of God; Such a powerful anointing on that preachers life; He / She must be right, look at how many books they’ve sold” and so on. Tragically though, much of what passes for preaching today, particularly the shallow squawking that comes from seeker sensitive lecterns is not preaching at all but rather motivational, ego appeasing emotional manipulation designed to make the hearers feel good about themselves in any given situation – including their sin. The messages are most often a daisy chain of anecdotes and clichés, sermonettes producing Christianettes, because you see it’s all about storing up treasures here on earth for you, whether that treasure be success, wealth, prestige, worldly or even churchly acclaim. The fact is, in too many a professing church it’s all about SELF; How I can get my ego stroked, how I can feel good about my evil nature, how can I get forgiveness for my sins without really repenting of them, what I can get out of my life, what I can do for MYSELF, what I can achieve in whatever I attempt, and worse… what can GOD do for ME – as if He were some kind of celestial bellhop and my tithe His tip. It’s all about ME, ME, ME. It’s called ‘i-church’ and its spruikers are not preachers at all, they are salesmen hiding their cowardice behind the ruse of ‘being relevant to the culture’.
Forget cocky, sauntering, self adulating squawkers such as T.D. Jakes and company; in fact completely disregard what is impressive in the eyes of man at all, for what is highly esteemed in the eyes of man is utterly detestable to God (Luke 16:15) actually it is idolatry. What then is good preaching in the Father’s economy? Well, let’s see…
In those days John the Baptiser came preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Matthew 3:1-3 KJV
· In those days John the Baptiser CAME…
· In those days John the Baptiser came PREACHING…
· In those days John the Baptiser came preaching IN THE WILDERNESS OF JUDAEA
· In those days John the Baptiser came preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, REPENT ye
CAME: (Greek: “paraginomai”) – “To appear suddenly / publically / and startlingly! (A different form of this same root word is the one used for Y’shua’s second coming … which will also be “sudden, public and startling”!). Everything about this “John the Baptiser” was “startling” –
• His sudden emergence
• His clothing (rough camel hair and leather belt)
• His food (locusts … honey)
• His fearlessness of the reigning religious class
• His NON seeker sensitive approach
John was a herald fearlessly proclaiming and preparing for the arrival of the long prophesied King Y’shua. Contrary to what is taught by Dominionists, John the Baptiser did not physically clear the roads and highways of obstacles; his mission was to clear the paths to men’s hearts by removing the obstacles of sin, self-righteousness and worldliness that kept the King from a smooth and clear access. This was achieved by the fearless proclamation of a word you rarely hear in so-called churches today – the word Repent!
PREACHING: (Greek: kerusso) – Strong’s Enhanced Concordance defines “kerusso” preaching as: “to proclaim, herald or announce … always with: • formality • gravity • authority”! Note that well… Formality, Gravity and Authority – quite a contrast to today’s style of Casualness, Frivolity, and warm, fuzzy Timidity.
IN THE WILDERNESS OF JUDEA: This desert (or wilderness) of Judea referred to the rolling bad lands between the hill country of Judea to the west, and the Dead Sea and lower Jordan to the east, (stretching Northward to about where the Jabbock flows into the Jordan river). “It is indeed a desolation, a vast undulating expanse of barren chalky soil, covered with pebbles, broken stones, and rocks. Here and there a bit of brushwood appears, with snakes crawling underneath”. (William Hendrickson) There were no Lexus Four Wheel drives, no Learjets, no shagpile carpet, plush furnishings or any of the other ambient jollifications we see preachers indulging in today. This desert wasteland was the pulpit of the one who the Messiah called “the greatest among men born of a woman” (Matthew 11:11) because this desert wasteland was the likening to the state of the soul within fallen man.
REPENT: (Greek Met•a•neό). Regarding this word, William Hendrickson wrote this: “The rendering found in many of our translations (namely – “REPENT”) (which is how the NIV, AV, RSV, etc. translate it) is probably not the best. It has been called “unfortunate”(W.D. Chamberlain); “a rendering that does not do justice to the original, since it gives undue prominence to the emotional element”(Louis Berkhof); “a hopeless MIS-translation” (A.T. Robertson)… and even “the worst translation in the New Testament” (James Broadus)!
Some theologians agree with the first two definitions, but find the second two too harsh!
Theologian Erich Sauer speaks of repentance as “a three-fold action”:
• In the understanding , it means “knowledge of sin”.
• In the feelings, it means pain and grief.
• And in the will, it means a change of mind … that leads to … a complete “turnabout of life”
“Metaneό” is a drastic change of mind, heart, and will, (thinking, feeling, and resolve to act), that totally changes how one values and sees the comparative and intrinsic worth of things. “Metaneό” is to totally change directions!
The Matthew Henry Commentary defines Metaneό thusly: “The main idea behind Biblical repentance is to take the time to allow for a second thought (to re-consider, re-evaluate, and re-think) in order to correct the errors of the first thought. Consider your ways. Change your minds. You have thought wrong, (so think again)! Note: True repentants have different thoughts other than the ones they first had regarding God, Christ, Holiness, Religion, and what is of value in the world! This “change of mind”, results in a change of way!! Those who are truly sorry for what they have done wrong, will be careful not to do it again!! Repentance such as this is a necessary duty to a direct Command of God!
“In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now HE COMMANDS ALL PEOPLE EVERYWHERE TO REPENT.” (Acts 17:30)
It is John The Baptiser who tells us that this repentance is a necessary preparative and pre-qualification in order to receive the comforts of the Gospel of Christ. If the heart of man had continued upright and unstained by sin (as God first made man, in the Garden of Eden), then divine comforts would have continued, without this painful operation being necessary first. But since our hearts are now sinful, pain must precede pleasure, we must labour before we rest. The wound must be cleaned before it can be closed! ””
Fruit in keeping with repentance” – The mark of a truly repentant heart is: Fruit! (In keeping with one’s “claims of”,(or one’s “emotions of”) repentance!). (Acts 26:19, 20); (James 2:14-17); (1 Jn 3:7-8a)
PHARISEES AND SADDUCEES
In short, the Pharisees were the religious hypocrites of their day. They knew Scripture, they were fiercely defensive of their synagogue (their church), they were outwardly moral, highly respected pillars of the community and very religious. They were proud, self righteous, and confident that their religion and good works would earn their way to Heaven.
The Sadducees on the other hand were (more or less) the liberal churchmen of their day. They did not believe in miracles or the supernatural. Although they claimed to believe Scripture to be the Word of God, they were selective as to the parts of scripture that they adhered to and justified away any need to live Holy lives! Much like Seeker Sensitive / Emerging Church ideologues insist with their end justifying the means credo. Though the Pharisees and Sadducees were religious enemies (in many respects), in the final analysis, they both rejected Christ, (and missed the truth of Scripture), because they both tried to attain Heaven by their own ideas, beliefs, strategies and efforts!
Was John the Baptiser a Fightin’ Fundie?
Matthew Henry: The question might be asked: “If John the Baptist preached so much about sin, repentance, and hell … how was it that God Himself named him: (in Lk 1:13) “John” – “Jehovah’s Gracious”? Answer: Warning people that doom is impending … (and will certainly overtake them unless they repent and believe) is this not a gracious act? Does it not indicate that God is not cruel, not eager to punish, but kind and long suffering?!”
William Hendrickson: “John’s message was not soothing, but soul searching! Not flattering, but frightening! … (At least to a considerable degree)! He did preach hope, but “hope” only if a radical turnabout of mind, heart, and life took place!!”
J. C. Ryle – “Few preachers ever produced such effects as John the Baptist! None ever received such praise from the head of the church! (Jesus Himself called him “the greatest man born of woman” “to date”!) What made John the Baptist so great a preacher? Well, (to begin with) John spoke plainly about sin. He taught the absolute necessity of repentance before anyone can call themselves saved. He preached that repentance must be proved by its fruits. He warned men not to rest on outward privileges (like merely being raised in a Christian home, calling oneself a Christian, or being a member of a Church). This is just the teaching we all need. Now John taught (in verse 12) that true believers (as imperfect as they are), if they have truly believed and repented, they will be safely brought to Heaven (“gathered into the barn”) when He returns. (And the best of believers are often tempted by the devil, and need much encouragement to trust this, being reminded that Jesus will never leave them, nor forsake them, and that He will guide them safely through life … into eternal glory!). But men apart from Christ are naturally dead, blind, and asleep to spiritual things … and too ready to content ourselves with a mere formal religion, and to flatter ourselves that if we go to church, read our Bibles, and be “NICE”, we shall be saved! We need to be told that, unless we “repent and are converted”, we shall all perish! Thank God for men (and ministers) like John the Baptist!”
John MacArthur – “Despite many similar warnings by the prophets, many of the people (and most of the leaders) were not prepared for John’s confrontational and convicting message. What he said was shocking, unexpected, unpopular and unacceptable to most. But John’s message was God’s message, and so he would not compromise it, or clutter it, with the popular misconceptions and delusions of his own day and his own people. Such is the necessary case today, as well!”
Tony Dean – The formula is quite simple and yet is one which appears to have eluded the hearts and minds of many so-called luminaries within the professing Christian Church today. Those who seek to coddle the obtuse, weeping and festering wound of sin by vainly applying feel good salve to it in the hope it will heal itself are entirely deceived. The only hope for recovery is that the infection be cut out entirely and completely. This is the work of the Saviour alone and by NO MEANS the psychological stratagems of men. The process is a painful one and never, ever smooth in transition. It was reformer Martin Luther who once said: “If our gospel were received in peace, it would not be a true gospel". As I shared with a brother recently, the formula goes like this…
“Where there is no teaching of the doctrine of sin there can be no understanding of either the Father's grace or the need for personal repentance. Where there is no repentance there is no forgiveness. Where there is no forgiveness there is no salvation and where there is no salvation there is eternal death”.
Where the doctrine of sin is not clearly taught; where the utterly corrupt and fallen nature of mankind is not lucidly explained, and where the absolute and critical need for personal repentance along with the Father’s grace as a prerequisite for salvation is not enthusiastically expounded without fear or favour, then there is on offer a gospel very much contrary to the one the disciples taught. If you belong to a seeker sensitive church there is a very STRONG chance you have been, or are currently being taught a false gospel.
The main points of Matthew 3:1-17 are as follows…
1. In order for “The King” (Y’shua) to come, it was first necessary, (as the Old Testament foretold) for a “herald” to come.
2. His name: John the Baptiser.
3. His job? Announce the King’s imminent arrival … and “prepare the way”.
4. How? By “kerusso” preaching.
5. The message? REPENT … and bear fruit in keeping with repentance for the Kingdom of Heaven is about to come!
As a consequence believers need to do the following…
1. “METANEΌ!” (Repent) (2 Chronicles 7:14)
2. “Bear fruit in keeping with Metaneό!”
3. Re-think what church really is!
4. Re-think what the point and purpose of a sermon is!
5. Be more discerning with what is ‘preached’ ALWAYS measuring what is said against the Word of God rather than the popularity of the one doing the ‘preaching’, or the satisfaction of the ear being tickled.
6. Re-think what love really is when reaching both the lost and those within the Body of Christ!
In His Everlasting Embrace
Moriah Ministries Australia