Thursday, June 18, 2009

Flaw of Motivational Preaching

As we've looked, intellectually aimed preaching will often lead to information but a lack of action. Emotionally aimed preaching can create some action, but it is often short-lived. The obvious move--to some--is to aim for actions. Why not simply preach right to application and action. Consider these two texts:

"Many will say to Me on that day, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' "And then I will declare to them, `I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'--Matthew 7:22-23

"To the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: `I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. `Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. `So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. `But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.`He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.`He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'--Revelation 3:1-6

It is possible for us to call people to "good works," for them to obediently participate in the application, and yet for them to not be pleasing to God (Romans 14:23/Hebrews 11:6) The pastor must remember that sanctification is not the same thing as moral application. While a person who is being sanctified will do good works (Ephesians 2:10), it is not necessarily the case that good works are a result of sanctification. (This argument is of course speaking from a human perspective. If I saw a person preaching, healing and exercising demons, I would assume those to be good works. However, Jesus--with a divine perspective--understands that their actions are not good--but due to their lack of faith--are actually deeds of lawlessness.

It's tempting to think that spiritual growth is happening when you see a congregation join the pastor in corporate responses or sign up for challenges. Motivational preaching can be more encouraging, for it is more tangible and easier to assess. Are people signing up for the challenge? Have they done what you told them to do? Have they quit doing what you told them to quite doing?

It's sad enough when a preacher may think sanctification is happening when it isn't. It's even more tragic when you consider that the non-believer may join you in the application (for if it is not dependent upon the Holy Spirit, it isn't sanctification), and because of their works consider himself that much more in God's good favor. To the unbelieving--who is inclined to self-righteousness already--such preaching can actually fan the flame of his works righteousness. And when the man perceives that the church is applauding his works, it will be even more difficult for the man to see his lack of righteousness and his need for Christ.

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