The Preacher’s Essential Work of Debasing Humanity
It must be admitted that people do not know their spiritual status before God, nor do they wish to hear about it from the pulpit. Sinners are in a terrible state that will only get worse on the day of their deaths (Heb 9:27).
Instead of warning people of the wrath of God to come (Mt 3:7; Lk 3:7; Rom 1:18; 1 Thess 1:10; Rev 19:11–21), most preachers tell their hearers that God loves them, just as they are in their current state. In this, the watchman on the wall fails and has blood guilt upon himself (Ezek 3, 33).
Telling people the truth about their spiritual condition is not popular because it will guarantee the preacher a smaller audience. Most lead pastors of mega churches in America would never venture anywhere near this subject matter. Instead of magnifying the person and work of Jesus Christ, they magnify themselves and their success in attracting large crowds.
Man must be brought low for him to see his need for a Savior. Because sinful man is naturally an idolater, he must first be exposed for his vile unacceptability before God. He must be shown the exceeding sinfulness of his own sins; and he must be made to consider the volume of his transgressions.
The preacher himself must believe the low view of man from the Scriptures, or he will be tempted to employ self-help psychology to lift men up by his own clever wisdom. Christian preachers, conducting group therapy sessions from their pulpits, have positioned themselves as messiah-wannabes. Jesus may or may not be the therapeutic instrument, but when the pulpit becomes the counselor’s chair, someone other than Jesus is the deliverer.
It is essential for people to know God and to know themselves. They must be educated on the relationship, or rather, the ruined relationship. Why is there so much evil in the world? Why do so many turn to food, alcohol, drugs, pornography, sports, entertainment, etc. to cope with life? Their deficiency is the common case of Godlessness. Man was made to worship God, but his occupations are endless, in other realms. Man values everything above a right relationship with his Creator.
The plight of fallen humanity is its spiritual deadness. Man cannot remedy the void. No man is willing to seek Christ for his sole solution. Imposters claim they are doing this in their respective religions and cults. They practice their endless rites and rituals, imagining they are pleasing to God. Their vain, repetitious prayers, methodical movements, and varieties of costumes are merely external expressions to impress others. God is not impressed at all.
In a futile display of camaraderie, men will exalt other men, in order to exalt themselves. They repay one another with compliments and with complementary speaking events, “Since you have let me speak at your conference, I will let you speak at my conference…and together we will be exalted in the eyes of those we charge fees to hear our gospel.” Of course, their gospel is no Gospel at all.
The true Gospel exalts the sovereign God and debases wretched man. Christ Jesus is the central figure preached because He alone is the Mediator between God and man (1 Tim 2:5). He is the condescending God of heaven (Phil 2:5–11), come into the putrid world; and He alone is the exalted Man, the federal head of His holy nation of redeemed saints (Rom 5:12–21; 1 Tim 6:15; 1 Pet 2:9).
Here is the separation of humanity into two groups. The Bible holds this dichotomy, exclusively. Gender distinctions, racial differentiation, ethnic and economic status are abolished because of Jesus Christ. Sinful men will war with their neighbors about all the matters that distinguish them from one another, but the Christian preacher is called and sent by God to declare man’s universal, fatal condition.
Although sin and death reign in the world system, without God’s divine intervention, the trajectory of every man is eternal hell in the lake of fire (Rev 20:14–15). Christ Jesus is the Agent of intervention. He has invaded the kingdom of this world of sin. He has come to save His people from their sins (Mt 1:21).
Once a Christian is made alive, spiritually, by the work of the Holy Spirit (1 Pet 1:3), he is illumined to his former status: dead in sin (1 Cor 2:14; Eph 2:1–3, 12). The believer is being made holy by the agency of the Spirit and the instrumentality of the Word of truth (Jn 17:17; Gal 5; 1 Thess 4:3, 7; 5:23; 2 Thess 2:13; 1 Pet 1:2). God gives His regenerate people an entirely different view of God and the world around them. This is why natural man scoffs at the foolishness of the Gospel of peace with God (Rom 5:1; 1 Cor 1:23). He cannot see the kingdom of God, nor can he enter it by his own will or choice (Jn 3:3; Jn 1:12–13)
As the Christian grows in grace and knowledge of the truth (2 Pet 3:18), he inclines his view and rhetoric of God. He boasts in the Lord (Ps 20:7; 1 Cor 1:31). At the same time, he reduces man to his rightful place, which is exceedingly lower than most men can think or imagine (Gen 6:5; Is 64:6; Jer 17:9; Rom 1:18–32; 3:10–12; 8:7).
Here is the true test for the true Gospel preacher. Listen to any sermon from any Christian preacher. Is Christ Jesus exalted to the absolutely supreme place? Is man painstakingly discredited of absolutely every merit? If your sermon survey does not lead you to an unequivocal, “Yes!” to both questions, then you need to find another preacher. One who knows his essential work of debasing humanity, while simultaneously exalting our Lord Jesus Christ.
Spokane Valley, Washington
June 14, 2022