Our Divine Purpose
food for thought:
Providing a place for heaven to speak
Pastor Bob Goolsby contemplates an age-old question: Who is it who convicts people of their sin?
Years ago, a young preacher said to me, "Brother Bob, it's getting so you can't preach against sin anymore".
I said "You preach against sin? Why do you do that? Do you have a lot of people guilty of the sins you are naming in your church?"
He said "No, come to think of it".
I said, "You need to learn to hunt where the ducks are".
I know he did not coin that statement. I have heard it many times. In some churches, the "amen corner" will approve with gusto so we satisfy the few, and lose the many.
Just as I Am
I was born-again when I was eight years old. (It might have been earlier, but we tend to look for some event to identify as "coming to Christ".
In a tiny chapel in a part of the U.S. that is now a national forest, very remote, I first sensed the Lord in experiences currently less available, as families drop from church. At eight years of age, the 28-year-old preacher spoke on a Sunday night. I don't exactly remember the sermon, but I remember they sang "Just as I Am" for what seemed to be an eternity.
The presence of the Holy Spirit, and an opportunity to respond made the difference. He did not preach on sin. He presented the Saviour. Even at eight-years-old, I was able to experience conviction. It does not matter whether sin is great or small. The Holy Spirit shines His own spotlight on the heart.
"It is the Holy Spirit's job to bring it to life, once declared."
The preacher presents the Word. Paul said "Faith comes by hearing" it (Romans 10:17). He also said, "I am free from the blood of all men, for I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God" (Acts 20:26-27), not one part, not two parts, but all of it. It is the Holy Spirit's job to bring it to life, once declared.
Offering a Solution
I learned something else subsequent to that night. God saves sinners, but it might take a while to practically expunge all the sin from the saved one.
That's why the church should not major on the problem. We need to offer the solution. Granted, on occasion the preacher needs to define the problems we face, but by isolating one sin to rail against, all we do is alienate the guilty, and telegraph the message to the rank and file that they should not bring those people to your church.
Rarely did Jesus rail against adultery, for example, except in the most general of terms. But he always forgave it (adding a fatherly "go and sin no more" as He did so). Rather, it was the attitudes of the religious against the sinner that invigorated His sternest warnings.
It has been said, "The Church is not a sanctuary for the saintly but a hospital for the sick". Overcoming Christians need to be staff, administering healing medicine and care, not mere lifestyle criticism.
We are relevant, not because we are an echo, but because we provide place for heaven to speak.
Bob Goolsby is the pastor at George Town Baptist church
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