A famine of moral and practical preaching

Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.
Acts 20:26–27

In the Reformed church today, there has been a too great backlash to moralistic preaching. In many ways this is understandable as there has been a grievous loss of the gospel in many quarters when men preach “thou shalt” and “thou shalt not” to the exclusion of our only hope – Christ crucified for sinners. Many no longer hear that Christ came to justify the ungodly – that our salvation is by grace alone through faith alone and not by our works (Ephesians 2:8-9), for which we will praise God now and forever.

But in an over-reaction to gospel-less moralism, men have turned away from preaching the moral commandments of the Bible. The fruit of this practical, if not theoretical, antinomianism has caused many to no longer showcase the mark of the Christian disciple (love) and led to lives filled with sinfulness. It has also led to destroyed families and ruined marriages because no longer do Christians hear “all the counsel of God” and God’s will for their lives, their marriage, their family, etc.

Preaching Holiness

Many New Testament texts teach that the fruit of salvation must be holy lives lived for righteousness. Christ Himself teaches that His light must shine through our conduct and lives. Never to earn salvation, not ever to earn favor with the Almighty, but the product of the new, regenerated, heart, and the work of the grace of Christ given to us by the Holy Spirit, and exercised by ourselves. It is hard to understand how one can read the Sermon on the Mount without seeing how Christ would have us live. Consider some other texts in the New Testament epistles.

Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
Titus 2:13-14

and

Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.
Hebrews 12:14

The Lord Jesus Christ redeemed us and washed us from all our sins, so we may live holy lives, and for Him. That is the teaching of Romans 6 as well:

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
Romans 6:1-2

Preaching Practical Doctrine

Because of the abuse of moralistic preaching divorced from the grace of God, many men no longer preach sanctification. In addition, practical preaching is almost nonexistent. I have listened to many sermons as of late from men – and almost all of their sermons are week in, and week out, indicatives. With nary an imperative to be found. If moralistic preaching divorced from the gospel leads to burdens impossible to bear, a lack of moral preaching leads to the sheep being starved and disordered.

Opportunities for Wolves

Sensing this vacuum, this has also led to grievous wolves entering the church to lure away disciples after themselves (Acts 20:29-30) by preaching on neglected, but vital, topics for Christian living. Such men have a defective or heretical view on justification, and disciples not being fed “all the counsel of God” are leaving orthodox churches to pledge their allegiance and eternal souls to unorthodox men. This is devastating.

Pastor, please preach “all the counsel of God”. This is often far more difficult for your flesh to do as it takes a lot of thought and meditation to dive into the realm of application (this was noted in the Westminster Directory of Public Worship). You will have to know your flock to do it well (Proverbs 27:23). Any minister that spends time with his sheep would have a catalogue of vital topics on matters of holiness and practical living to preach on to tend to them. There is such power in preaching the Word that it will help reduce the amount of time you spend in the counseling room as you pick up after lives shattered by sin.

For the love of Christ, in the power of Christ, for the glory of Christ

Preach that obedience to the commandments is the fruit of a justifying faith and that obedience to the commandments comes from the greatest motivation of all:

If ye love me, keep my commandments.
John 14:15

And what the Lord Jesus Christ commands He gives power to fulfill through a vital union with Himself:

He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do… nothing.
John 15:5

May the people of God be a light set upon a hill as they are sanctified and more Christly through the preaching ministry, that all would glorify our Father in heaven.

Amen.

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