An important issue affecting the Church is it’s preaching. Romans 10:17 (HCSB) says “Faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ.” The message about God is crucial to the germination and growth of faith. Since the days of Paul, there has been a lot of incorrect preaching and teaching. Sadly many churches in Tamil Nadu, South India where I live are lacking in sound preaching. The gospel of Christ is a rich and glorious gospel encompassing issues that affect our entire lives, but often there is undue emphasis on few topics accompanied with erroneous preaching.
Prayer is a regular topic in some churches. Hearers are urged to pray more and more and some even teach that time should be tithed to God. People are urged to attend regularly full day or all night fasting prayer, ignoring other duties like work and family. Prayer is an important part of a Christian’s life but there should be a healthy balance.
Character study of Biblical persons, saints and missionaries seem to be another common sermon topic. Although the Bible records a lot of personal history, analysis of people is limited. Jesus used parables and Paul taught doctrine and it’s application for life. We do not know all the circumstances faced by people in other generations and our personalities are different; so every one will react in their unique way. Imposing a behavior based on another’s behavior is not the message of Christianity. Matthew 22:37-39 “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” We need to use our mind to love God and not blindly copy another! I have heard messages in Laymen’s Evangelical Fellowship (LEF) portraying Lot as an unrighteous man when the Bible in 2 Peter 2:7,8 calls him righteous! This is a sad example of character studies going horribly wrong.
In the Laymen’s Evangelical Fellowship (LEF) the pet topic seems to be sin, confession and repentance. Time was spent in condemning specific sinful activities and urging people to repent and confess. Sinful activities happen because we are all born sinful. Psalm 51:5 (NRSV) says “Indeed, I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me.” Due to this “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23. The solution for the sin problem is that “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” Romans 5:8,9 (NKJV) and “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” Ephesians 2:8. So more than regularly condemning the activities, it necessary to explain the sin nature and the free solution offered by God to man. Sadly, I hardly remember hearing about God’s grace and the free gift of salvation being taught in the Laymen’s Evangelical Fellowship (LEF). In testimonies of people, you could often hear details of their sinful life but little of their changed lives! They also teach that sinful activity should be confessed to people before one could receive salvation. Confessing that Jesus is Lord is necessary. Romans 10:9 (HCSB) says “If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Sadly this kind of confession is not taught in the Laymen’s Evangelical Fellowship (LEF).
Dear preacher and hearer beware, the Holy Spirit has warned in 2 Timothy 4:3-4 (AMP) ”For the time is coming when [people] will not tolerate (endure) sound and wholesome instruction, but, having ears itching [for something pleasing and gratifying], they will gather to themselves one teacher after another to a considerable number, chosen to satisfy their own liking and to foster the errors they hold, and will turn aside from hearing the truth and wander off into myths and man-made fictions.”. Let our focus be “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19