In Luke 11, Jesus was accused of casting out demons by the power of Satan. Jesus meets their accusation head-on and shuts them up. In the moments after this encounter a woman cries out, “Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked.” But he said, “Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.”
The message? On the contrary, madam, you must respond to the truth of God’s Word. The word “keep” means to grow, to sprout. It’s the Word of God that points out error so that we might grow as we should.
Any preaching that does not confront sin is false preaching. God does not heal messed-up people by giving them hugs so that they feel better about themselves. He heals by confronting and cutting out the cancer of sin that is destroying them. Unfortunately, our view of success in the ministry has come down to numbers. If a church is growing and people are flocking to it then that pastor becomes a model for church growth.
When you make the pilgrimage to that pastor’s seminar on how to grow a church you discover the secret to their success: 1) Preach for no more than 20 minutes and use plenty of stories because people don’t want to be weighed down with doctrine. 2) Don’t confront them with sin. They’ve had a tough week and another one in front of them. Inspire and uplift them for the week to come.
Is it any wonder that things are going to pot around us? America is starving for a word from God! Biblical preaching always reproves, rebukes, and exhorts. It does not tickle your ears or tell you you’re ok. When you hear or read the Word of God, allow it to confront your sin. God wounds in order to bring healing. And when Scripture confronts you, respond! Own up to the sin that God has placed His finger on, turn from it and grow.
In light of the fact that every presentation of the Word requires a response, we offer a time of invitation at the close of each Sunday morning worship. This time is your time to respond to what God has confronted you with during our time in the Word. It is the most important time of the whole morning. The truth has been presented. What will you do with it?
It distresses me greatly to see those who should be responding, preparing to leave or actually leaving during the invitation. Not only are you failing to respond but you are distracting others who should be responding. By the way that whole concept holds true for those who get up and leave during any portion of our worship time.
What it really, really boils down to is that there is a marked difference between an attender and a worshipper. Attenders come to get and worshippers come to give.
Did you come here this morning to put God on the clock or did you come to put you on the altar?