Many stand behind the pulpit who should not be there. So many teach extra-biblical or non-biblical nonsense, stories that are not the focus of the Bible or the Gospel. Often these teachings are laden with the pastor’s experiences. Either these teachers were not called, or if they were called to ministry, they did not allow the time for training and education and have found themselves neglecting the call.
Jesus picked regular men who had enough Bible knowledge of Judaism, and he personally trained them for three years. They were not Pharisees who memorized all these extra laws invented by man so they were eager to learn the truth. Later when they were given the Holy Spirit to empower them for the mission, Jesus sent them out – to preach, evangelize and disciple.
Preach the Word Paul told Timothy. Yet today we hear people at the pulpit often give a Scripture or two and then launch into various stories that may or may not have anything to do with the Scripture or biblical truth. Going through the Bible systematically teaches us the character of God. It helps understand completely what the writer meant in his book. It uses the Bible as the authority – which takes the emphasis off man. The Scripture has less of a tendency to be manipulated when the basis of our preaching is founded in the Scripture, book by book.
Hearing the word preached preserves us from sin’s influence; it changes our affections from being attracted to sin to obeying God. When the Gospel in the church is not accurately taught or explained, people end up not understanding the message of sin, repentance, and their response—saving faith. This affects their daily walk with the Lord. So the answer is to get back to the basics and really know them as a foundation to build upon.
Once a church gets a certain size and becomes popular, the danger is things become automatic, and they become very busy just to keep the machine they’ve created going.
Samson got a haircut and did not notice the Spirit of the Lord had departed. He looked basically the same, but he found out what was missing when he needed his strength. The sheer size of a church has a great influence over others who desire growth. But we forget that God works with us as individuals, and there is no other methodology but that which is given in Scripture—“they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine, in fellowship, breaking of bread and in prayers” (Acts 2:42). They practiced the Christian life separately and together. Those who believed the Gospel were brought into the church, and “all that believed were together, and had all things common . . . continuing daily with one accord in the temple . . . And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (vs. 42-47). Notice doctrine comes first. Paul instructed the young pastor Timothy to “give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” (1 Timothy 4:13). “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (1 Timothy 4:16). In 2 Timothy, he is told to hold to sound doctrine (1:13), teach sound doctrine (2:2), continue in sound doctrine (3:14), and preach sound doctrine (4:1-2). Doctrine forms the framework of our Christian walk and faith; from this knowledge comes good works. From the apostles teaching, their instructions kept the church in spiritual unity to meet the needs of others, fulfilling the law of Christ. One of the reasons the early Church had power was that they followed what was instructed. Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them in the truth, Thy Word is truth.” And so they were one.
But we are constantly pressured to abandon biblical instruction and do things another way (a “new” way), man’s way. As we read the Bible or hear sermons that are biblically based, we learn to live the Christian life, grow in our relationship with God, and are equipped to do good works. Deuteronomy 8:3 exhorts “that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live”