[forthright] Doing the Right Thing/Why Preaching?

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From: Forthright Magazine <forthright@...>
Date: Fri, 11 Nov 2005 11:13:49 -0600
Forthright Magazine
http://www.forthright.net
Straight to the Cross

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Doing the Right Thing by Greg Tidwell
Why Preaching? by Tim Hall
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COLUMN: Outlines of Faith

Doing the Right Thing
by Greg Tidwell

As a young man, Abraham Lincoln tried his hand in
many professions, once working as a store clerk.

One day, as he closed the store, Lincoln
discovered he had overcharged a customer by six
cents. Now, in the mid-nineteenth century six
cents was worth much more than it is today, but it
was still not a great deal of money.

The six cents, however, belonged to the customer.
To do the right thing, after work Abe Lincoln
walked the three miles to return the money. It was
a small thing, but it was the right thing to do.
Jesus tells us, "One who is faithful in a very
little is also faithful in much, and one who is
dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in
much" (Luke 16:10, ESV).

One of the greatest dangers facing the church is
the tendency to embrace "selective obedience,"
setting aside those aspects of God's will which
seem trivial or inconvenient.

Small compromises, however, inevitably make way
for larger changes. Even the smallest
transgression may be the starting point on a path
that leads to eternal death.

None of us are perfect, and all must rely on God's
grace. The Lord is merciful and forgives sin, but
the Lord never accepts sin as all right. We,
therefore, should rest assured in God's
forgiveness. We must never, however, use God's
grace as an excuse to embrace what is wrong.

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COLUMN: Heavenly Connections

Why Preaching?
by Tim Hall

In the early days of the church, some laughed at
the message of Christianity. "A God who comes down
to earth to die? What a foolish thought!" That's
the charge to which Paul responded in his letter
to the Corinthian Christians: "For the message of
the cross is foolishness to those who are
perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the
power of God. ... For since, in the wisdom of God,
the world through wisdom did not know God, it
pleased God through the foolishness of the message
preached to save those who believe" (1 Corinthians
1:18,21, NKJV).

It didn't matter that some regarded the message of
the cross as foolish; it was God's chosen message.
All who desired to serve God faithfully were under
obligation to preach the message just as it had
been given to them.

In our day, we don't hear many who question the
message. But there seem to be many who challenge
the medium. "Preaching? That's so outdated! Ours
is an age that demands to be entertained. The
message must be presented in new, creative
methods." That's not an exact quote from anyone,
but it does seem to summarize the feelings of
many. Sermons have gotten shorter, dramatic
depictions of the gospel story have gotten more
common. Preaching has been replaced by high
definition video clips. Appeals to the intellect
have been supplanted by appeals to the emotions.

Why should we continue to utilize preaching? We
don't argue that it's trendy, for it's clearly
not. But we do insist that it continues to be
God's chosen method of proclaiming the good news.
Consider this statement in Titus 1:3: "[God] has
in due time manifested his word through preaching,
which was committed to me according to the
commandment of God our Savior." God was under no
obligation to any human being to reveal his will.
But thankfully he did reveal it, and it has been
revealed "through preaching."

Later in the same letter, Paul pointed to the
reason why God revealed his will: "For the grace
of God that brings salvation has appeared to all
men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and
worldly lusts, we should live soberly,
righteously, and godly in the present age" (Titus
2:11,12). God's grace is a favorite theme of all
who claim to be Christians. But "teaching"? That's
not so popular in our age. It appears, however,
from Paul's comments that it's a package deal. If
we want to receive the grace of God, we've got to
be open to his teaching.

We're not trying to stifle anyone's emotions.
Emotions are from God, and they can serve useful
and powerful purposes. But emotions cannot
instruct us in the ways of God. The things that
"feel" religious and holy are often not (Proverbs
14:12). Our only reliable path to pleasing God is
by heeding the word he has given us. And that word
is to be made manifest through preaching and
teaching.

"Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of
season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all
longsuffering and teaching" (2 Timothy 4:1).

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