Fearing Man from the Pulpit

As a pastor, I find that I constantly need biblical instruction and reminders to keep me pointed in the right direction. Curtis C. Thomas’ book Practical Wisdom for Pastors (Crossway, 2001) often provides just what I need. In my reading this morning, here’s what I found:  

If we ever get to the point where our message is rounded off so that we avoid a particular passage, a needed subject, a pointed rebuke or biblical command for fear that we are going to offend and thereby run off a member, then we have begun to fear men rather than striving to please our Master. That’s a temptation into which Satan wants us to fall. He wants people leaving after our messages very comfortable, soothed, and feeling good about us. But sometimes, in order for us to be faithful, some people will leave the message not feeling very good about us. The truth should comfort the hurting but also unsettle the comfortable. 

8 responses to this post.

  1. Amen Matt! Well said. I like Isaiah 51:7 for this.

  2. The minute the pure preaching of the Word is compromised by the fear of the people in the pew, God has lost one of His greatest means for reaching the very people who need to hear it the most.

  3. Posted by Mike Jarvis on August 29, 2007 at 2:50 am

    A timely word, Matt. Just this past week, my wife and I spent four hours with a couple from our church who decided to “take a break” because the sermons weren’t sensitive enough.

    It’s hard to see people step away, even when it’s for the right reasons. But still, there is also a peace deep down knowing you’ve been faithful only to please the One worthy of our adoration alone.

  4. Posted by Mike Thompson on August 29, 2007 at 5:06 pm

    A true relevant word. There is to many feel good pastors. We need to be confronted with the word and judge ourselves to it.

  5. Posted by Spencer DeBurgh on August 29, 2007 at 8:20 pm

    Thanks for the good word Matt.
    I have a similarly convicting one for you from Gardiner Spring’s work “The Power of the Pulpit”

    Who is sufficient for these things? We may all well tremble at the thought of standing in God’s name and by His appointment proclaiming the truths of the everlasting Gospel. There is responsibility in uttering it be the lips whose they may. How great the responsibility when uttered in God’s name! Oh how often does this thought rush upon the preacher’s mind as he treads his way to the house of God! How it awes him into reverence – moves him to fidelity and earnestness and gives solemnity and tenderness even to his severest admonitions. How is it fitted to quench his thirst for fame; to call to mind that he speaks in His name who was despised and rejected of men – who was spit upon scourged and crucified! What has such a man to do with being a fashionable preacher or with aiming to gratify this world? It is the Master who sent him whose approbation he seeks; the only testimonial that can satisfy him as a man of God, and a Christian minister is from the lips of his divine Lord, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

  6. I heard this discussed a few weeks ago at the STS TableTalk…

    The privilege of the Bible expositor is that, in preaching through the Word, the fact that a certain teaching or truth that comes up is merely part of the study, and any issues that may arise are now coincidental. The fact that a listener is convicted by a message is God’s sovereign grace, and that will be unmistakable if the possibility of “you preached that sermon about me!” is removed.

    Keep up the good work!

  7. Amen to Thomas’ words. The Puritan pastors often implied that ministerial duty (preaching included) should be as follows: comfort the broken, break the comfortable.

  8. Pastors ought to never fear man.

    Pr. 29:25 The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.

    Pastors ought to boldly preach and let God’s word work; preach against sin and let people know that your sin will find you out.

    Nu. 32:23 …be sure your sin will find you out.

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