Preaching the Unchanging Word in a time of increasing flux

Here we go again considering the “10 Challenges Facing the Church in the 21st Century.”

1) Addressing Post-modern Americans with the authentic Gospel.

2) Cultivating a people of truth in a culture of relativism.

And now — 3) Preaching the unchanging word in a time ofbible-glasses increasing flux.

We live in a day that almost worships the idea of “change.” If you followed the presidential race, that is just about all that you have heard from both sides: “We must have change.” Sometimes change is good. Many times people just cry for it instead of thinking through the issues. One thing is for sure, change is coming and only time will tell if it is for the better or worse. Sadly we no longer consider what our fundamental, foundational issues really are. To change, just for the sake of change, is quite foolish indeed.

But a part of the relativistic/post-modern age in which we live is the idea that there are no eternal truths; no fixed realities; no established issues worth dying for. Everything changes and to our generation that is just OK. In many areas of life that may not really matter. But when it comes to all that is revealed in God’s word it matters much.

Our churches across the nation are suffering because of the crisis of “changeitis” — holding nothing close as eternal truth. It has crept into the pulpits where there is only a type of pop psychology being taught and preached. One of the most critical missing elements from many pulpits is the cry of ‘thus says the Lord!” Some turn God’s commands into so many suggestions; His instruction in righteousness as something from the dark ages and certainly not for today. It is a sad thing but we live in a generation of spiritual and Biblical illiteracy in so many ways.

In spite of all this, God has given us His unchangeable word . . . The Bible . . . The word of truth . . . That which Paul says is “inspired (literally ‘God breathed’) by God, and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness.” We must be a people who look to God’s word for counsel and direction, not the latest fad or CNN, MSNBC, or FOX. The stock market may crash, but the word of God stands. The form of government in our nation may change, but the word of God is unshakeable. We must be a people who believe, live, and proclaim God’s holy, inerrant, infallible, trustworthy, and authoritative word.

We have to realize that this makes us look really strange to the world around us. As Al Mohler said in 2000, and it is still true today, “These days, this means confronting, not only a secular world, but a market driven, hyper-consumer sensitive church with the reality that it is the task of preaching the unchanging Word that is the central criterion of ministry, even, and especially in a time of flux.” Change means that there are no “hooks” on which to hang on when things get rough. We must show the church and the world that the word of God is all we need for security in times like these.

10 Challenges Facing the Church in the 21st Century

Back in April, 2000, I attended a Trustee Meeting at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Back then I was a trustee from Florida, not Kentucky. During that meeting Dr. Mohler, in his address to the trustees talked about “10 Challenges Facing the Church in the 21st Century.” It was prophetic back then and was right on target as to what the church must give itself to if it wants to be a voice for the Gospel in our generation.

As I reflected on these “10 Challenges”, which I haven’t read in more than eight years, I couldn’t help but notice that they reflect exactly what we are trying to do at Grace Baptist Church. We are committed to the authentic Gospel, to truth, to recovering Biblical worship and a focus on missions from Somerset and to the world. I couldn’t help but notice while reading #9 that we are involved in the study of Christian disciplines in our adult Sunday School classes this quarter; and #8 reflects our desire to save and strengthen the family.

1. Addressing Post-modern Americans with the authentic Gospel

2. Cultivating a people of truth in a culture of relativism.

3. Preaching the unchanging word in a time of increasing flux.

4. Recovering Biblical worship against a world sold on entertainment.

5. Contending for the faith in a day of pervasive accommodation.

6. The challenge of being the children of light in the midst of the children of darkness.

7. Challenging a new generation of leadership in ministry.

8. Salvaging the family from cultural destruction.

9. Living the Christian disciplines in an era of “do-it-yourself” spirituality.

10. Building a missiology worldview that is centered in the glory of God.

May God strengthen His church to stand firm in this day and seek to face these challenges with the truth of God’s Word. In my weekly Grace Notes article I have been expounding on these each week. I will probably post some of those here in days to come.

For an analysis of today’s cultural situation that the church is facing, I recommend Dr. Mohler’s book Culture Shift: Engaging Current Issues with Timeless Truth.