Power in the Pew

“For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to say” (2 Timothy 4:3).
What makes a good sermon? What elements comprise a good Bible class? Often our expectations of preaching are selfish. “I liked the stories he told. He was funny.” It makes one think of Paul’s warning that there would be hearers who gathered round themselves teachers “to say what their itching ears want to hear.”
So sermons bend to the demand to entertain, Bible classes provide more therapy than theology, more discussion than doctrine.
There are 168 hours a week, and at most we have 4 hours to counteract all the clutter, selfishness, and shamefulness the world dumps on us. It’s like lightly salting the ocean — a challenge to say the least!
So our time in Bible class is precious; those moments at the feet of Jesus, learning from him, priceless. Stories and illustrations are not wrong; we must simply not judge a sermon on that basis.
Certainly preachers need to resist the temptation to pander. Teachers need to provide substance and spiritual nourishment. But there is another truth, too. The hearers bear a responsibility.
Arthur Schlesinger Jr. once said of politicians, “Truman’s famous slogan — the buck stops here — tells only half the story. Citizens cannot escape the ultimate responsibility. It is in the voting booth, not the presidential desk, that the buck finally stops.”
Likewise great preaching starts in the pew, not the pulpit, in the classroom chair, not at the lectern. That’s where the buck stops. When brethren hunger and thirst for God’s word preached, when parents demand their children be taught the word of God in the classroom, then we begin the process of great Bible teaching. The buck stops in the voting booth, and the Bible begins in the pew.

Share your thoughts: