Not long ago, I attended a conference for pastors and heard two of the greatest sermons I’d ever heard. One was on the Second Coming of Christ. The other on personal holiness. As I walked out, I was thankful there are still preachers who will preach the Word! Men who aren’t afraid to preach the whole counsel of God without regard for political correctness and without compromise. It was a refreshing, reviving, renewing and rewarding experience.
Unfortunately, those kinds of preachers are an endangered species these days, and those kinds of experiences, where you hear great, biblical preaching, are rare.
I heard of an old church in England that had a sign on the front of their building that said, “We preach Christ crucified.” Over time, ivy grew up and obscured the last word. The sign now said, “We preach Christ.” As the ivy continued to grow it covered most of the sign until it said, “We preach.” It wasn’t long until ivy covered so much of the sign you could only see the word, “We,” and it wasn’t long before the church died.
One of the greatest preachers of all time, John Wesley, said, “Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen, such alone will shake the gates of Hell and set up the Kingdom of God upon the earth."
Too much of contemporary preaching in our world doesn’t come close to shaking the gates of Hell. In fact, it wouldn’t even disturb the dumbest demon in Hell, much less capture the attention of the head demon, the devil, himself. Instead, in our well-intentioned but misguided efforts not to offend those who are lost and Hell-bound, much of todays’ preaching has become so OSTEENtatious the only person it could possibly offend is God. And the only kind of people it reaches are those with hearing problems (i.e. those with “itching ears.” See 2 Timothy 4:3-4).
Years ago, a 19th-century, circuit-riding, Methodist preacher named Peter Cartwright was getting ready to preach. Before he went to the pulpit, he was informed that President Andrew Jackson was in the audience. Church leaders told him to be careful about what he said in his sermon so as not to offend the President. When Cartwright took the pulpit, it’s reported he said, “I understand that Andrew Jackson is here. I have been requested to be guarded in my remarks. Andrew Jackson will go to Hell if he doesn’t repent.”
The congregation was in shock and sat stunned, wondering how President Jackson would respond. Following the service, the President shook hands with Peter Cartwright and said, “Sir, if I had a regiment of men like you, I could whip the world.”
Our passion isn’t to whip the world. Rather, our passion is to win it.
But if we ever hope to win the world, we’re going to have to preach the Word, in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:2), and we’re going to need preachers like John Wesley and Peter Cartwright.
1 Corinthians 1:21, “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.”
© 2015. Barry L. Cameron
Barry L. Cameron has been the Senior Pastor of Crossroads since 1992 when the church was averaging 188 in morning worship. Pastor Cameron and his wife, Janis, have three children and two grandsons. He’s the author of the bestseller: The ABCs of Financial Freedom, Contagious Generosity, and The Financial Freedom Workbook. The Cameron family has been completely debt free since November 2001.