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The Pulpit: Its Powers and Pitfalls (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
October 26, 2021 4:00 am

The Pulpit: Its Powers and Pitfalls (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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October 26, 2021 4:00 am

Hazard signs are posted for our protection, warning of potential dangers and encouraging us to proceed with caution. The pulpit has its own unique pitfalls—and pastors need to be on the alert! Learn more as Alistair Begg sounds the alarm on Truth For Life.


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The highway, there are signs post for our protection to warn us of potential danger, or to encourage us to proceed with caution.

The same holds true for the pulpit. It has its own set of pitfalls and pastors are wise to be alert to the warnings found in Scripture and to learn from the experience of others were in first Corinthians chapter 1 verse eight team today on Truth for Life hears Alastair back for the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are being saved it is the heart of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, the intelligence of the intelligent. I will frustrate where is the wise man. Where is the scholar rate is the philosopher of the CH has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world. For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him. God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God for the foolishness of God is wiser than men's wisdom and the weakness of God is stronger than men's strength brothers. Think of what you wear when you were called. Not many of you are wise by human standards, not many were influential, not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the winds. God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things and the things that are not, to nullify the things that are so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for wisdom from God. That is our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written. Let him who boasts boast in the Lord when I came to your brothers. I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaim to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.

I came to you in weakness and fear and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power. Thanks be to God for his work. Father with our Bibles on our laps, and with our minds tuned to hear your voice. We pray that the spirit of God will be our teacher for Jesus sake. Amen. Now my subject this morning is the pulpit it's pitfalls and its power when using the pulpit as a metaphor. Of course, not suggesting that that a block of wood is in itself power our faces pitfalls but were seeing the pool that is the place at which the opening up of the Scriptures takes place and our conviction is that from the pulpits of our country. We are supposed to hear not bright ideas of men, not the rambling thoughts.

Another theorizing or their speculation. We assume that the pulpit is not a place for sloganeering or from manipulation that is not the place for tall stories and emotionalism but it is the place for spirit filled Christ exalting, Bible-based life impacting instruction and direction from God through the words of a spokesman which impresses upon the listeners. The power of text and not the performance of the preacher and much of what I'm going to share this morning, especially initially, is largely without biblical warrant in the sense that I'm going to share with you.

First some pitfalls that may actually be my own peculiar propensities and therefore it gives you an insight into where I'm coming from, may be that you can find a point of identification with them also and then will turn to finish with the Scriptures by looking at the nature of the power of the pool at Bruce. Thielman expresses what many preachers have felt when he says there is no special honor in being called to the preaching ministry that is only special pain.

The pulpit calls those anointed to it as the sea calls it sailors and like to see batterers and bruises and does not rest to preach to really preach is to die naked a little at a time and to know each time you do it that you must do it again. Lloyd Jones was mentioned and I caught him in the opening address that he gave to the students at theological seminary, Westminster, 1969 in the city of Philadelphia explaining why it was that he'd been prepared to come and give these lectures on preaching. He said ultimately my reasons for being very ready to give these lectures is that to me the work of preaching is the highest and the greatest and the most glorious calling to which anyone can ever be called if you want something in addition to that, I would say without hesitation.

The most urgent need in the Christian church today is true preaching and as it is the greatest and most urgent need in the church.

It is obviously the greatest need in the world.

Also, that is a quite staggering statement from a man who had been trained as a medical doctor who was assistant to Lord Harter who was actually the physician to the Queen and he had a life before him of great prominence and opportunity, not only in the practice of medicine but also in the higher echelons of English society, and he turned from bad to our small Welsh Calvinistic Methodists chapel and burying himself in the obscurity of the hills of Wales, he began to fulfill what he says here was for him the highest and the greatest calling that anyone can ever face. Certainly when we read of those who have been used of God in the preaching of the word and when we listen to what the have said the immensity of the challenge that is before us is heightened.

John Allman noted in his writings a number of qualifications which he referred to as being necessary for the effective performance of the primary pastoral Judy and I'm just going to tell you what the arm for the record is number one was spiritual wisdom and understanding of the mysteries of the gospel. Secondly, and expedience of the power of the truth in our own souls.

Owen said of the Scriptures or of the message. If it does not dwell in power in the eyes.

It cannot pass with power from us, and no amount of effervescence or personality or ingenuity will be able to compensate for that divine transaction which is a in the words of Brooks truth through human personality. Thirdly, and obviously he said that the pastor would need skill in dividing the word of God correctly.

Fourthly, that he would require spiritual discernment of the condition of his congregation and fifthly that he would need to be marked by a zeal for the glory of God and the compassion for the souls of men. Now, to the degree that Owen articulates foreigners there die standard of gospel preaching. Small wonder that many of us would find ourselves shrinking from it, rather than seeking to press ourselves forward.

Let me give to you than just some random observations out of my own experience that relate to peculiar pitfalls that attach to poop it ministry.

First of all is prayerless. Surely the devil laughs at prayerless preaching. He surely doesn't care about preaching that is not backed by an sourced in prayer. I have a little booklet in my files.

Published by the overseas missionary Fellowship about prayer in the front cover bears this quotation if our prayer is meager, it is because we regarded as supplemental and not fundamental. As I walked from the session yesterday someone asked me number one. How long do you think it is necessary to spend in preparation for preaching in terms of the study of the word and then the second and harder question wasn't how long do you spend in prayer in the prospect of preaching and running there's any doubt or tall that since the devil knows that the greatest effectiveness is in the soul of the man who is bathed in prayer, who is dependent upon God for everything.

Then he will seek to do everything in his power limited as it is to prevent us from that one thing so that we will find turning to our common trees even turning to our Bibles doing all kinds of things able to squeeze them into our days and then somehow or another scrambling at the last minute to try and put in a little bit of prayer in acts chapter 6 in the spiritual reorganization that takes place in the early days of the church you will remember that the apostles in determining that the waiting on the tables needs to be given over to others who have peculiar gifts and practical ministry. They said we will not leave aside the preaching of the word to wait on tables. We will pass this on to someone else and we will give ourselves to prayer and the preaching of the word.

I don't and there is any question dear friends that are preaching would be 100% more effective if we were to pray far more. And if our congregations were to undergird our proclamations with their prayers. It is a great pitfall to become increasingly prayerless. Secondly, the pitfall of allowing an ever widening gap between my life and the things I say allowing an ever widening gap between my life and the things I say no that's essentially first Timothy 416 want your life and your doctrine closely. There's a peculiar pitfall in preaching and it is this that we think that because we have preached it. We have lived, but after we have preached it. We have only preached unless of course we have lived it before we preached, but it has to be both live and proclaim and that's where incidentally are waves coming and our children to one of my friends an elderly gentleman who was not actually married said every pastor needs a wife. If for no other reason than to keep him humble and to be there to say you know honey I there's a brittleness about your tone. There's there's something here that that that just doesn't meld in the way that it once did. Not easy to take, but vital to hear. That's where accountability comes in amongst our colleagues because we can deceive ourselves, and become those whom James warns against who are merely the hearers of the word all be in the heroes of our own words, proclaiming the word and we are not doers and we deceive ourselves. That's what he says do not be merely hearers of the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says and there is a great challenge in this. I'm sure CS Lewis ends his book the four loves, and it is actually on the final page, at least of my coffee with this striking statement.

He says those like myself whose imagination far exceeds their obedience are subject to a just penalty we easily imagine conditions far higher than we have actually reached if we describe what we have imagined. We may make others and make ourselves believe that we have really been there and so cool.

Both then and ourselves. Challenge that anyone involved in teaching.

Surely James says let not many of you become teachers for you teachers will be judged with greater strictness third pitfall I refer to as the danger of excessive popularity, excessive popularity, I put this down here. Frankly, many of us as pastors would like a little those of this for a once in a while and it may not be a major problem for you at this point in your ministry but it may come every so often it will come, and with it comes the danger of thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought. Beginning actually do believe that what people say about us is true.

When appointed by they don't even know I so why would even say these things when I was a small boy my father used to take me to a number of events that I didn't want to go to, not least of all the singing of male voice choirs and always seem to happen on a Saturday afternoon and as part of stall to my reluctance, he would allow me the to go into a confectionery store and purchase Sweetser candies as you would say, and those were the days when they still had them in the big jars in the meat them out into ounces or 4 ounces or whatever it was, and so you pointed out when the lady got it down and supported. In the dream she waited and she put it in a bag and she give it to you. And so there was a transaction involved and I remember particularly one place on a Saturday afternoon.

I must've been all shined up and ready for action Brylcreem on the hair shaved up the back of my head like I was ready for the Army and the their underwear.

I remember a number of people in the store and I don't know what happened in the in the shop but it must've been that somebody said complimentary things about this shiny face we chap that was waiting for the suites and when the shop cleared and there was just the lady and myself. This lady whom I don't know. I met her once in my life as she handed me the bag of candy.

She leaned over the counter and she said that Sonny flattery is like perfume sniff it, don't swallow it, and I have learned in the course of pastoral ministry to discount the high-end and to discount the low end, there are people who just for all the best reasons will tell you your fantastic you know it isn't true, and therefore you have to learn not to listen to that to walk around metaphorically with your fingers in your ears you desire was gloriously helped until he became strong and when he became strong.

He grew proud to his own destruction. I probably at this point in my life faced the greatest dangers that I've ever faced in relation to this particular pitfall. Being aware of it is one thing being helped and it is another fourth pitfall is the other side and that is the danger of crippling despondency the pulpit can lift you up and make you think you're terrific. You can bring you down and make you think you're the worst person that ever lived to live with an almost paralyzing sense of uselessness attaches itself to the work of the pool. I'm not live with this a lot but I have lived with it routinely. I'm not talking now about clinical depression. I'm not talking about manic boats. I'm just talking about the blues I'm talking about ending a Sunday and wanting to run as far as you possibly can.

Every responsibility and pastoral ministry that you have ever known the spirit of Elijah's wrong but it's real. I'm the only one that is left around here that cares and the only one that really believes this. I'm the only one that really owns this. I'm the only one that really understands this know you're not. I'm going to find a broom tree. I'm going to sit under the Lord's and the angel said, have a drink of water have a muffin and go to sleep send angel said times that have a drink of water have a muffin. Luther had a great strategy in relationship to this because his wife one morning came down dressed completely in the black of formalized morning. She took her place opposite him at the breakfast table. He was staggered by her appearance.

He said my dear, what is happening as someone died that I didn't know if she said God has died, nurses Luther that is a dreadful thing to say and she said well why my dear Martin, do you live as you live with God and still align God moves in a mysterious way, was written by caliber out of the experience of a psychiatric hospital. Judge not the Lord by feeble strength nor try his works in vain. God is his own interpreter and he will make it plain. I don't know that anybody has ever truly preached unless there felt the burden of crippling despondency for when you read the profits.

It says the article of Amos audit says the article of Elijah. The word there is the burden burden of this man for some man's burden that you have the responsibility now to stand and deliver. It's not just getting back talk. It's not just unfolding your wisdom is not just sharing your ideas is that God has put you in this place and I don't know what it's like to have a baby, but I can imagine that it's pretty awesome and I would imagine that to truly preach is the closest online will ever come to the travail of childbirth. All the joy and all the sorrow all the pain and all the expectation, and all the emotion that is wrapped up.

Therefore, this pitfall is a review for remember that when you're gladhanding your pastor, remember that when you're making your superficial comments in the dangling conversation in the superficial size on the borders of our minds as you speak the things that matter with words that must be said, you know, can analysis be worthwhile.

This theater really to so much twaddle now what you do what I do. Well my wife. She hugs me and then she kicks me and kicks me back into action.

Hugs me back into life.

And Luther's antidote. Incidentally, when someone came to him with despondency was. He said harness the horses and spread manure on the fields. Imagine going for pastoral counseling with a sense of crippling despondency you go in and you start to unfold your long story and Martin interrupts leases my dear my dear soul.

Let me tell you in a phrase.

What to do, just go harness your horses and spread manure on your fields will be something about that smell of your nostrils that will transform everything for all time. An interesting solution for a despondent pastor you're listening to Truth for Life with Alister big part one of a message titled, the pulpit, its powers and pitfalls. This is a message. Alister originally preached to an audience of pastors and Lord willing, will have an audience of pastors joining us again next year at the basics, 20, 22 conference. This is a conference for men in church leadership that scheduled May 2 through the fourth at Parkside church just outside Cleveland, Ohio. Alister will be joined this year by special guest Tony Marina and John Woodhouse. Registration is open now If you are in pastoral ministry. I will encourage you to check this out also for pastors or anyone who was involved in church leadership you want to request a copy of a book or recommending titled faithful leaders of the things that matter most.

Written by pastor there are four short chapters in this book, you'll learn how to define success. How to fight your own CM how to lead yourself and then how to serve your church.

All of that is easier said than done right.

This is a perfect book to use with a church leadership team. Whether you pastor a congregation or leaving youth group for service, the director of children's ministry, you can request your copy of the book faithful leaders when you donate online at or you can tap the image in the above Lapine join us again tomorrow as Alister continues talking about the power and falls of the pulpit.

Look at the other side of pastoral ministry side that makes the pitfalls worth the risk. Bible teaching of Alister big is furnished by Truth for Life learning is for

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