Is it fair to say that preaching and truth go together? Is there any conceivable place where honesty is more important that the pulpit? These are rather obvious questions to answer. Would it be equally true to say that dishonesty in preaching is the worst lie of all? It is hard to argue otherwise. People are groping for answers and they must have the truth or we sully the names of preacher and pastor. If this analysis is true, and I believe it is, then dishonesty in the pulpit is a heinous crime. It is a crime that lurks in all the corridors of Christianity and Independent Baptists are no exception.
There is, on the one hand, calculated deception, and on the other, accidental deception. There is little we can do for one who simply concocts a lie and tells it at the sacred desk. Just label them a charlatan and hireling and go on. But for those who don’t fully realize what they do, perhaps we can encourage and enlighten. In any event, let’s consider cases of dishonesty in preaching:
1. Telling an untrue story or illustration.
This behavior is tragic because He Who is Truth, nor His Word that tells Truth, can ever be uplifted with lies. Sadly, these days this dishonesty is often given a wink and a nod. With a grin we are told, as if a real excuse, “I was only preaching.” Only preaching? May God help us!
2. Telling untrue information on other ministries.
Petty politics. Nothing more needs said.
3. Telling stories as if you were the hero.
Some get so carried away in the pulpit bolstering their own reputation that even if marginally true, they dishonestly obscure the fact that Jesus is the only hero when the Bible is preached. If the listener leaves impressed with you rather than Christ, a con job has been pulled. I realize the line could be subtle here, yet the stakes are so high that great caution is required.
4. Taking a Scripture out of context to prove your point.
You can pretty much prove any point with an out-of-context verse, but you can’t be honest in doing so. Perhaps it is an accidental lie, but it is one nonetheless. How do you feel when your words are taken out of context? Why do we imagine that our Lord wouldn’t mind just like we do?
5. Claiming your preferences are from God’s Word.
To say, when preaching on your own preferences, that you are just preaching the Bible is blatantly dishonest. How serious is this action? It is tantamount to substituting God’s Word for your own. What could be more counterfeit than that substitution? If could can’t find a clear Scripture for what you are saying, you are guilty.
Handling God’s Word is the greatest of privileges and so carries the greatest of responsibilities. Lives are shipwrecked when God’s Word is mishandled and Christ is dishonored. We who preach should not wait to be called out, or worse, answer at the Judgment Seat, but hold ourselves to strict account. Our task is that critical, and our God far too worthy for anything else!
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