Published October 9, 2012

Paul's Epistle...
"Just Preach Jesus"

From a recent email...

"In a recent conversation with a fellow pastor, it was mentioned [that] their denomination is enforcing strict rules of caution in their churches. This is in regard to teaching and preaching. They are frightened they may be sued by someone who does not like the message, the teaching, or Christ-like love shown by the people. This pastor is becoming over-cautious in his messages, and some of his congregation see he is hurting.

"I constantly encourage our congregation to stand boldly for Christ, the truth of God's word, and do not compromise. We may be threatened, mocked, or avoided by many, but we must not compromise the word of God."

That personal email, recently received from a pastor, illustrates both the problem and the solution to a growing problem in churches today. There is a sickening trend toward watering-down the Gospel, making it more seeker-friendly and labeling as "acceptable" things which the Bible clearly condemns. Is it any wonder why the world is becoming more confused than ever about what true Christians actually believe? Clearly, this is not good for the cause of Christ.

This is an issue, as I mentioned a few weeks ago in this column, that's heavy on the heart of songwriter Dianne Wilkinson. She wrote that powerful song "We Will Stand Our Ground," recently discussed here. But she's written another song, also currently popular by the Kingdom Heirs, that is yet another encouraging challenge to pastors everywhere. It's called "Just Preach Jesus." Here's how Dianne describes the genesis of that song:

"My a long, long time Baptist pastor. And I love preachers and I love preaching and I have a burden for the days we're in – a two-fold burden. It is coming true what the Bible said that there are lots of congregations now who have itching ears [2 Tim. 4:3] and they don't want to hear the real, whole counsel of God preached. And then there are some preachers who, on their own, have softened the message. And you know what Paul told little Timothy – ‘you cling to what you learned when you were little. Be instant in it.'

"So I wanted a song about a young man who was on fire for God and he had his first church and he was all excited. And he got in there and just preached and preached and the people came up and said, ‘We really don't want that. You're gonna have to tone it down.'

"So he went to his old preacher friend who mentored him and he told him, ‘Just preach Jesus, born and crucified and risen from the dead.'"

Here's how Dianne gave the old preacher's advice in the chorus of that song:

"Just preach Jesus, born and crucified and risen from the dead.
Just preach Jesus as He paid for sin with the precious blood He shed.
Lord and Savior, King of Kings, Son of God and Son of Man.
Just preach Jesus until Jesus comes again."

But such a stand takes boldness. Last weekend we saw reports that more than 1,500 ministers observed "Pulpit Freedom Sunday," defying government rules by openly telling their congregants to obey God's laws, not man's – especially on God-ordained moral issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage, and openly explaining how the presidential candidates differ vastly on these two issues. Jim Garlow, pastor of San Diego's Skyline Church, said, "We believe it's our biblical authority to obey God..." These are two of the very issues which have been splitting churches – splits that should never happen if the plain teachings of the Bible were merely taken at face value and applied. But, all too often, secular political agendas are poisoning the church. And that's never the case more than during a political year such as this.

Each year, an estimated 1,500 pastors leave their assignments. Many of these are because of conflict or burnout, including the types of things mentioned above.

This month – October – is observed widely as "Pastor Appreciation Month," with this coming Sunday, October 14th, being observed specifically as "Pastor Appreciation Sunday." The Apostle Paul tells us, "honor those who are your leaders in the Lord's work. They work hard among you and warn you against all that is wrong. Think highly of them and give them your wholehearted love because of their work" (1 Thess. 5:12-13, NLT).

Be sure to let your pastor know you appreciate his solid, Bible-based preaching. (If that's not the case, encourage him to make it so.) Encourage him to take a stand boldly on Biblical values, even when they're counter to today's cultural norms. In these times, more than ever before, your pastor needs your encouragement. Let him know that the sacrifices of his many years of preparation for the pastorate are greatly appreciated.

But be sure to challenge your pastor to stick with preaching the plain, unequivocal truth of God's Word. It's the only answer for this sin-sick and confused world. As the pastor quoted above said, "We may be threatened, mocked, or avoided by many, but we must not compromise the word of God."

- Paul

PS: Here's an interesting article about ten things every pastor wishes the congregation knew but doesn't know how to say.

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