Upon finishing my Sunday morning exposition of 1 Corinthians 15:23-28 I received two very different responses from persons within the congregation. You brother-pastors know all about this experience. One elderly man lectured me on how I really need to calm down when preaching in the pulpit. My passion for the truth apparently distracts and even upsets this longtime member. He said he wished his high school speech teacher were still alive so she could instruct me on how to give a more effective presentation. He also told me that if I continue to preach as long as I have the past two Sundays that I’ll lose all of our members.
The second person I chatted with after the service had a different perspective on the sermon. The brother followed up this brief Sunday conversation with a gracious email on Monday which you can read below.
I thank God for answered prayer. I have been seeking to see God’s hand move in a way only God could do in my life. I recognize this can be a “dangerous” prayer, but my desire is not just the normal, ordinary or mundane life. I seek not to be special, just to be part of something special.
The distractions of business and the world seems to rob one of the joy of life in Christ. I am seeking a re-focus so Christ remains the focus. The message from 1 Corinthians 15 this Sunday was just that. I found myself being drawn into the message. It started out as a great information source with answers to questions I have been working with, but then a strange phenomenon began. Amidst the flood of information and knowledge most usable for everyday life, Christ as God became real. I wanted to “Amen”, but the voice wouldn’t respond. (I was ashamed that there wasn’t more response to the truth spoken, but I have to assume that others were sensing a similar condition.)
Then the final song came to mind, “Hallelujah, What A Savior!” I went into a near panic mode. How could such a song be sung from one so unworthy? I put the thoughts out of my mind and refocused on the message. I found myself trembling the more I listened. You continued to speak of the 3 distinct offices of the Trinity, yet equal as God. You spoke of all the enemies being conquered and Christ submitting Himself to the Father that God may be all in all. The scene was over-powering! I could hardly concentrate on the words.
I sensed, like Moses for a moment in time, I was given a glimpse of our great Savior and God. I don’t have a shine about my countenance like Moses, but seemed to sense the true Almighty God. Any more than that and the human mind, body and spirit could not handle it. I do not believe in out-of-the-body experiences that one hears about in magazines and other articles, but I do think that God presents Himself in unique ways to people at different times. This may have been one of those times. The fact you waived the singing of the last song may have been God’s protection and mercy upon myself at that moment. I truly did not know what or how I was going to respond once on the platform. I do not want to dwell on the experience of the day, but would rather consider the gracious work of God’s Spirit as He saw fit. Thank you for preaching the Truth as the Spirit of God gives leading.
To the praise of His glory,
In some regards we pastors preach each and every sermon before an audience of One. As Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:1f, I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; If the Judge isn’t pleased with my exposition it would not matter if the entire flock gave me a standing ovation after each and every sermon. If the Judge is pleased with our humble efforts (2 Tim 2:15) then it should not matter if the entire church wants to throw us out after our exposition of Scripture. If the goal of our preaching is Romans 11:36 & Ephesians 4:11-15 then we do not need to be bipolar pastors even if we minister in bipolar congregations.
2 Timothy 4:2, Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.