What is the problem with the church of this generation? I posed this question in my post responding to the rise of Islam. If you read that post, you will notice that Islam does not so much concern me. However, it did raise for me, the question, of the Church? Why are we not having as much of an impact as previous generations? Where are the Spurgeons, Whitefields, Luthers, Calvins, men like the apostles? Now granted, we are plagued by much heresy today, the emergent church is striking away at an entire generation, those who are a generation above are still bewildered by and getting up from the failure of the seeker-sensitive movement. Arminianism is rife, liberalism is still going. But this is no excuse, when God used men in the past, there were also many heresies and evils about.
For argument sake, let us consider, a doctrinally pure and sound church. Accurate to the letter. Why do they not experience such impact? Why do the preachers, who have all their theology worked out and their Greek Grammar down, not rock the country? Friends, I write this to myself as well. The problem is not theological (while if we let that slide, it will be a problem too, some kind of ‘holiness’ without the ground of good theology would be just as useless), the issue is holiness.
I heard a sermon recently, and these words struck me, it went something like this, “The power of the preaching of a man, will be directly proportional to the holiness of that man.” Think of it friends, Paul wrote to Timothy and said two things he should watch, “Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you” (1 Timothy 4:16). To your teaching (KJV
has it ‘doctrine’) and to yourself. Is it any wonder that the qualifications for pastors in both passages where the qualifications are listed, starts with holiness and its practical manifestation? Titus 1:6 and 1 Timothy 3:2 both start off with the qualification ‘above reproach’ or ‘blameless’, not doctrine or theology. Wiersbe explains, “This word literally means “nothing to take hold upon”; that is, there must be nothing in his life that Satan or the unsaved can take hold of to criticize or attack the church. No man living is sinless, but we must strive to be blameless, or “above reproach”[i]”
In both of those passages Paul goes on in the same verse quoted to talk about the external manifestation of holiness. How a man runs his life, and rules his family, and controls himself. I could go on writing for hours, but I feel this is already getting to long. How long do we pray for? Or do we feel it is pointless and we can do without God’s power? How long do we read the Holy Scriptures for? Or are we wise enough and equipped in and of ourselves to deal with all life should throw our way? Do we cut off our hand, and pluck out our eye when they cause us to sin? Or do we whimper in the closet and scratch a bit at our hand, keep our eye lid closed for awhile? If we truly hated sin, we would destroy that means whereby we sin, we would go without, and in want, but by no means make provision for the flesh. How often do our thoughts wonder onto senseless and futile things? As if there were no treasures above, no glories to think in Christ, but ah, we cannot think of these things since we have not been in the Word to find the jewels.
The words also struck me, that you cannot be a clown, and a prophet. Now Spurgeon was a man who had quiet a sense of humour, he was even criticized for making too many jokes, but this is not what I mean. Al Matrin points, that it is the man who always wants to make people laugh, always wants to be a joker, how can someone then take you seriously, when you want to tell them of the fires of hell, and the depravity of their nature, and the glories of the only true God, and the pre-eminence of Christ?
I am not here hoping to solve the problem, but merely make it known, if you wish to have an impact for the world around you, then you best not worship the same idols it does. Money, riches, wealth, reputation, class, stuff, security, safety etc. Oh that we would have a tenacious fight for holiness, then we will see the world take notice, then we would ‘…save ourselves and others’
[i]Wiersbe, Warren W.: The Bible Exposition Commentary. Wheaton, Ill. : Victor Books, 1996, c1989, S. 1 Ti 3:1