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Mohler cites preaching’s centrality in ‘Power in the Pulpit’ seminar

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–The most urgent priority of the Christian church and its ministers today is the preaching of the Word of God, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. told a group of pastors April 2 at the Louisville, Ky., campus.

Mohler’s sermon came during “Power in the Pulpit,” a one-day preaching seminar for pastors and students.

“Preaching is an urgent priority in the church,” Mohler said. “[But] as we actually observe the church in action, one might not discern that preaching is of such a priority.”

Mohler invoked Protestant Reformer Martin Luther, who said that preaching is the central mark of the true church.

“Luther believed so much in the centrality of preaching that he has made his case both positively and negatively,” Mohler said. “Positively, he said, ‘Where the true preaching of the Gospel is to be found, there is the church.’

“But negatively, he also made the expression, ‘Where such preaching is not found, there is no church, no matter what it calls itself or poses to be.'”

Much of what goes on in today’s pulpit in the name of preaching is geared toward immediate, tangible results, Mohler said, noting that preachers of the true gospel may not always see an instantaneous result.

Employing methodology that is inherently unbiblical may fill pews and build large buildings, but it often fails to produce true and growing Christians, he said.

“We’d like to have an assembly line of maturing Christians go out the door of the church so at least we could see something,” he said. “But we do not have that. On Monday we [pastors] have a certain product envy. We envy those who build houses, or sell cars, or build corporations, or who merely cut the grass because they have something tangible to show for their labor at the end of the day.

“If you want to see quick results, the preaching of the Word just might not be the way to go. If you’re going to find results in terms of statistics, and in numbers, and in a visible response, it just might be that there are other mechanisms, other programs, other means that will produce that faster.

“The question is whether it produces Christians [who are] maturing and faithful believers to the Lord Jesus Christ, because that is going to come only by the preaching of the Word.”

Pure and authentic preaching of the gospel is offensive and often brings consternation and controversy to the minister who faithfully expounds the Word of God, Mohler said. In being faithful to the text of Scripture, the minister will not dilute the Word to make its message more palatable to an American mindset awash in political correctness. He must, through the Word of God, correct, rebuke and teach as the apostle Paul sets forth in his letter to Timothy.

“I will go so far as to assert that if you are at peace with the world, you have abdicated your calling,” Mohler said. “You have become a court preacher to some earthly power, no matter how innocuous it may appear.

“To put it straight, you have been bought. If there is no controversy in your ministry, there is probably very little content to your preaching. Because the content of the Word of God is not only alive and active, it is sharper than any two-edged sword, and that means it does some surgery. It does some cutting and there is some bleeding, and by God’s grace, there is some healing.”

Though it is the message of the gospel that is often scandalous to the ears of its hearers, it is the minister who most often bears the brunt of the response from those whom the message scandalizes. Because he is a servant of the Word, the faithful minister must be prepared to bear up under conflict and even martyrdom, Mohler said.

The apostle Paul, in instructing young Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:16, speaks of being poured out as a sacrificial offering, which entailed his own martyrdom, Mohler said. Paul’s commitment should be that of the modern minister in boldly proclaiming the gospel, he said.

“Sometimes preachers get ejected and fired,” he said. “That’s another reality. Sometimes [preaching] brings antipathy and resistance.”

Mohler said the essential content of the preached Word is the mystery of the gospel of which Paul speaks in Colossians 1:26. The mystery of the gospel was hidden by God until it was revealed in the incarnation of Jesus Christ and in his death, burial and resurrection. This is the irreducible gospel message which must be preached at all costs and in its fullness, he said.

“The gospel is simply the most transformative, the most powerful, the most explosive message there is,” Mohler said. “If you have trouble finding something to preach, I guarantee you that you are not preaching the gospel. This is explosive, it’s controversial, it’s transforming. The gospel according to the apostle Paul is not simply offered to us on a platter for our convenience or our investigation or our tasting.

“It is thrown at us like hot blazing rock, spewing from the crater of a volcano. It is dangerous stuff. Our task is to preach the Word and make known the mystery. But making known that mystery requires diligent, painstaking, systematic, rigorous, expository preaching because we have to paint the entire canvas.”
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: R. ALBERT MOHLER JR.

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  • Jeff Robinson

    Jeff Robinson is director of news and information at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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