Sunday, March 29, 2009

Scared of What?

I mentioned that this morning's sermon (commentary found here) was one I had both anticipated and dreaded at the same time. I also mentioned a couple of times that the sermon was a little scary. Judging from the [very gracious] comments made on the way out the door, it seems like I ought to clarify what I meant.

I do not fear losing "my job."

    a) I don't have a job.
Now don't get me wrong. I work. I work hard on the work in the Word of God and I receive double honor for it. But it isn't a job, it's a calling. There's a BIG difference.
    b) Grace is not that kind of place.
God has gifted our church with a hunger and thirst for righteousness. It may not always be easy to hear, but God has graciously marked our church with a humility to receive His Word. (And since our church doesn't vote, and I KNOW our elders stand behind the truth, being "run out" is not really a concern.)
    c) There is a "fall out plan."
Even if the shocker of the world happened and I was dismissed from my church (it did happen to this guy), I trust that the Lord would provide me a job and also eventually a pulpit. I would be heartbroken to leave the greatest church in the world, but I've been called to preach the gospel, and I trust that God would continue to provide opportunities.

So, what does concern me?
Here are some things I've been praying the Lord protect us from:
Someone is bound to misunderstand what I said. I do believe there are genuine Christians in the Roman Catholic system and in the German Baptist Fellowship. However, I do not believe either church preaches the gospel. Inevitably, people will misunderstand that. Some will think I am saying that every German Baptist or Roman Catholic is going to hell. Others will think I was saying the differences aren't that big a deal because people can go to heaven out of those systems anyway. Either way, I'll be misunderstood.
A few people told me that they are going to have some conversations with some Roman Catholic friends/family soon. While this can be a perfect application of the message, provided it is done with love and concern for their soul, it can be disastrous if done out of judgement or mere church attendance is the goal. We want unbelievers to get saved and believers to remain strong in their faith. Souls are the goal, not filled seats.
Similarly, some may think the purpose of this sermon is simply church growth. It's not secret that we've seen a lot of "curious German Baptists" in the last couple years. I was not trying to push people over the edge that were visiting. (In fact, from my observation, it was a relatively low week for Brethren.) I meant what I said. If a person is in the Roman system, the German Baptist church, a liberal protestant church or even a Grace Brethren Church that is participating in silliness and neglecting the bold, weekly proclamation of the gospel, the person/family needs to leave and never go back. I didn't say they have to come to Greenville Grace. But they need to find a gospel preaching church. (I have a list I've passed out to people before.)
    Misdirected zeal
Quite frankly, I had a concern that some people would like the sermon too much. Sermons that directly call out specifics can sometimes lend toward self-righteousness or works orientation for the hearer. Our hearts are inclined to what I should do instead of what I should be. A sermon that simply tells people not to be in a false religion--or to lovingly pursue those who are--is not enough.
    Misaligned Affections
There was a church that was planted by the best church planter ever. After he moved on, the church was pastored by very capable men. The church succeeded at weeding out false doctrine and driving out heretics for many, many years. But Jesus was not pleased with the church. Quite honestly, this is where I fear my failures the most. I do not want to preach with the goal of preserving good doctrine. I want to preach good doctrine for the sake of loving Christ. The goal from this morning's sermon was not simply to walk out of church with a new checklist to use when evaluating doctrine. The goal is that we would all see that all have sinned and the only means to our salvation is through Jesus Christ our Lord! Worthy is the Lamb who saved me, when I didn't deserve it!

The "results" of the sermon are not really up to me. But these concerns can be used by the Lord to refine my speaking. This morning's sermon was far from perfect, but Lord willing, the Spirit will use it anyway. In fact, if the success of the sermon were up to me, now that would be scary!


JanAl said...

We had to teach children's church this morning, so we missed the sermon. We are planning on listening to it through the Grace website, not because of this post, but because after lunch, Sheldon asked us if there was a way to listen to your sermons, we said yes, but were surprised that he asked, we asked him why, and he answered that it was really good, and that we needed to listen to it. Teasing him, I asked if it was about parenting, and he said no, that it was just really good! In the past, Sheldon has mentioned other sermons, and what he liked about them, but he has never recommended us to listen to one we missed, and talked it up like he did this one. So, I can not wait to hear it!
I also want to share with you that about an hour ago, Cleyo was just sharing with me that he is so thankful and that he appreciates more than anything, your desire to preach the Truth of God's Word!
So, preach on brother!!!!!!!!!
We love you and your family!!!!!

danny2 said...

just doing what darby told me too! ;-)

Kati said...

Two things:

I believe your sermon was well covered in prayer yesterday. I have never before heard God so loudly say, "Pray right NOW!" as I was listening to a sermon, and I talked to others afterwards who felt the same.

While obviously only God knows the "results" of the sermon, one thing I observed after the service was an obvious absence of the usual "lunch plans" conversation. LOVED IT!! People walked out of church talking about Christ!

Anonymous said...

you are right, danny. there are some who misunderstood. one of my students who was in the first service asked if you "preached about the catholics" in the second. i asked her to clarify. she told me enough to understand that she believed you were making fun of them (her words)and being too hard on them.

i talked (in front of all the other students) about the real message you were preaching, hoping she would understand what she had previously misunderstood. the bell stopped the conversation a little short, though.

when the principal walked in after school and shut my classroom door, i felt a moment of slight panic. thankfully he wanted to talk with me about something else.

be praying for sarah, though.

Margaret said...

First of all, we are feeling so blessed to be a part of this body of Christ with a pastor who will speak truth even when it's "a little scary".

We greatly appreciate and understand your concerns, Danny. It would be very easy for us to fall into self-righteousness becuase we came out of one of those churches that did not consistently preach the gospel.

No sermon has ever been so talked about by our kids.

Very interesting and thank you for your faithfulness!

Miss jane said...