John MacArthur, one of the greatest preachers alive, is always willing to speak his mind about what the Scripture teaches. I have many of his volumes in my library and am honored to count him as a friend.
In addition, John was one of the featured speakers at our recent Preach the Word Conference.
He recently posted an article on the topic of the frank discussion of sex in the pulpit and more that caused quite a stir. This article was brought to my attention, and I was asked my position on what he said.
My response was that I am in complete agreement with it. In fact, I wrote a similar blog post on the topic about six weeks ago.
So, here is that article for you to read again.
Reverence or Relevance?
March 11th, 2009 Posted in Pastor’s corner, sermons
It seems to me that for some we have lost the “fear of the Lord,” even in the Church.
There was a time when things were perhaps too uptight, and one spoke in whispers in the Church, and laughter was rarely heard. But today, many churches, in their attempt to be thought of as “cool” or “contemporary,” they have lost their focus.
I am not suggesting we attempt to be irrelevant and uncool, but my question is “Have we traded reverence for relevance?”
For instance, you have preachers talking in great detail about sexual issues, ranging from programs to have “sex every day for seven days” to more extreme versions in which they speak very graphically about specific sexual acts from the pulpit.
The cussing preacher
Then you have the “Cussing Preacher” syndrome. The pastor thinks it’s cool to use profanity in the pulpit so people will see him as one of them.
Is this all really necessary? I don’t think so.
Look, I have been a pastor for 35 years, and we have never had a problem reaching our culture and seeing people come to Christ. I am all for being real and authentic, but I also stand up on the platform to speak God’s Word.
1 Peter 4:11 says, “If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God” (NIV).
We are also told in Scripture to watch what we say. Speaking of the tongue, James writes, “With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men who are made in God’s likeness. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so” (James 3:9-10 ESV).
The early Church had it right
The early Church, the Church of the book of Acts, had it right, of course. And let’s not forget they “turned their world upside down” (see Acts 17:6). Do we ever need that today!
These first-century believers were filled with both joy and the fear of the Lord.
Acts 2:46-47 tells us, “So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people” (NKJV).
This phrase “gladness and sincerity of heart” literally means “with unaffected joy!” I love that–they were not afraid to express joy in their faith.
But there also was a sense or reverence and awe among these believers.
Acts 2:43 says, “Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles” (NKJV).
What is the fear of the Lord?
It does not mean you should be afraid of God. To fear God means that you have a healthy respect or reverence for Him. Another translation describes it as “a wholesome dread of displeasing God.” In other words, I love God so much that I want to do all I can to keep from displeasing Him.
Look, I am all for relevance. We need to make sense to the people we are reaching. But let’s not lower our standard in order to extend our reach.
Let’s not trade reverence for relevance.
I think for us to seek to live godly lives is very relevant, and very different than what this world has to offer. That’s how we will turn our world upside down, instead of the world turning us upside down.