I am very thankful that I serve a forgiving God, who forgives all my sins and provides me with eternal life. I am also very thankful that I serve a forgiving congregation who forgives my many sins and deficiencies and tolerates my many mistakes and shortcomings.
For example, this morning, in the first worship service, I made a mistake. I got confused as to where I was in the Bible and attributed a quote by John the Baptist to the Lord Jesus Christ. Although I realized my error later on and corrected myself in the 2nd worship service, I still owe a significant portion of our congregation a big apology.
Here is the truth… It was John the Baptist, not Jesus Christ, who said to the self-righteous religious leaders of the day… ““You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” (Matthew 3:7)
That said, I still stick by my statement that in a very real sense ALL the words of the Bible are the words of Jesus! So my mistake did not invalidate my main point in that portion of the message: the doctrine of the wrath of God is taught throughout the Bible, Old Testament and New Testament, Gospels and Epistles.
Early in his preaching ministry Ray Stedman sensed God giving him three principles to help him maintain humility and integrity in preaching:
First, never be concerned with how many people you’re preaching to, whether it’s two or three, or two or three hundred, preach the message God gives you. Second, never be concerned with how much they’re going to give you when you get through. Third, never be concerned with how well you think you’ve done.
“I can’t say I’ve always followed those,” Ray admitted, “but when I’ve departed from them I’ve felt the Spirit of God depart from me as well. When I’ve been faithful to them, I’ve left it up to God and He’s done His usual wonders with some very feeble work on my part.”
– from Portrait of Integrity: the Life of Ray C. Stedman by Mark S. Mitchell (page 99)
I came across this quote this afternoon (in the midst of my ongoing wrestling match with the sermon for this Sunday). It made me laugh and encouraged me to keep my hand to the plough. If there are any preachers reading this today, take heart and be of good cheer, even Spurgeon thought preaching was a difficult endeavor:
Everybody thinks himself a judge of a sermon, but nine out of ten might as well pretend to weigh the moon. I believe that, at bottom, most people think it an uncommonly easy thing to preach, and that they could do it amazingly well themselves. Every donkey thinks itself worthy to stand with the king’s horses.”
If John Piper sounds angry in this soundbyte, I think it is probably because he is! And I, too, have felt anger toward a “gospel” that is really no gospel at all. What do you think? Are we over the top in our frustration with “Health-Wealth Gospel”?