Wise words from John MacArthur used for today’s Christian Soul Food post:
The question of what Scripture means has taken a back seat to the issue of what it means â€œto me.â€
The difference may seem insignificant at first. Nevertheless, our obsession with the Scriptureâ€™s applicability reflects a fundamental weakness. We have adopted practicality as the ultimate judge of the worth of Godâ€™s Word. We bury ourselves in passages that overtly relate to daily living, and ignore those that donâ€™t.
Early in my ministry, I made a conscious commitment to biblical preaching. My first priority has always been to answer the question, â€œWhat does this passage mean?â€ After Iâ€™ve explained as clearly and accurately as possible the meaning of Godâ€™s Word, then I exhort people to obey and apply it to their own lives.
The Bible speaks for itself to the human heart; it is not my role as a preacher to try to tailor the message. Thatâ€™s why I preach my way through entire books of the Bible, dealing carefully with each verse and phraseâ€“even though that occasionally means spending time in passages that donâ€™t readily lend themselves to anecdotal or motivational messages.
I am grateful to the Lord for the way He has used this expository approach in our church and in the lives of our radio listeners.
BibleBut now and then someone tells me frankly that my preaching needs to be less doctrinal and more practical.
Practical application is vital. I donâ€™t want to minimize its importance. But the distinction between doctrinal and practical truth is artificial; doctrine is practical! In fact, nothing is more practical than sound doctrine.
Too many Christians view doctrine as heady and theoretical. They have dismissed doctrinal passages as unimportant, divisive, threatening, or simply impractical. A best-selling Christian book I just read warns readers to be on guard against preachers whose emphasis is on interpreting Scripture rather than applying it.
Wait a minute. Is that wise counsel? No it is not.
There is no danger of irrelevant doctrine; the real threat is an undoctrinal attempt at relevance. Application not based on solid interpretation has led Christians into all kinds of confusion.
No discipline is more sorely needed in the contemporary church than expositional biblical teaching. Too many have bought the lie that doctrine is something abstract and threatening, unrelated to daily life.
It is in vogue to substitute psychology and spoon-fed application for doctrinal substance, while demeaning theological and expositional ministry.
But the pastor who turns away from preaching sound doctrine abdicates the primary responsibility of an elder: â€œholding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, that he may be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradictâ€ (Titus 1:9).
Practical insights, gimmicks, and illustrations mean little if theyâ€™re not attached to divine principles. Thereâ€™s no basis for godly behavior apart from the truth of Godâ€™s Word.
There are only three options: We teach truth, error, or nothing at all.
-Â John MacArthur, Jr.
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