The Focus of Preaching

When the Spirit empowers the preaching of the Word of God its message becomes timeless. John Calvin wrote in the 16th century to warn his parishioners of the dangers of the opulent statuary of the Catholic church. His warning is still efficacious today.

What areas of our worship become crutches to facilitate merely external worship? What do we use to create an emotional experience when our hearts are far from God?

As evangelicals we rarely find our houses of worship filled with elaborate statuary or gilt. Instead we find technology and elaborate multimedia. Sometimes these become so important that they obscure the clear proclamation of God’s Word. We allow glamor and glitz to become the focus and let them eclipse the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Calvin’s warning is  timely. Even though he new little of the many modern distractions, his wisdom still speaks. We would do well if our churches were notorious for gospel preaching rather then the latest technology or for having the hippest service.

“Let those who would discharge aright the ministry of the gospel learn, not merely to speak and declaim, but to penetrate into the consciences of men, to make them see Christ crucified, and feel the shedding of his blood. When the Church has painters such as these, she no longer needs the dead images of wood and stone, she no longer requires pictures; both of which unquestionably, were first admitted to Christian temples when the pastors had become dumb and been converted into mere idols, or when they uttered a few words from the pulpit in such a cold and careless manner, that the power and efficacy of the ministry were utterly extinguished.”
-John Calvin, Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians (Galatians 3:1)

The modern marvels of the technological era are often a blessing. Let’s keep them that way. Let’s use multimedia and technology to aid gospel preaching.  Just as long as we are careful to keep them from eclipsing Christ in our hearts and in our worship.

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