In July I preached in Altoona, Kansas, at the First Baptist Church. It’s always nice to be back in the church where you had the joy of sixteen + years of preaching the Word. I was glad to be invited back to preach. It’s been ten years since I resigned from pastoring the church. The best part of being back was seeing the spiritual growth of the members. Like Paul said of Timothy, “They are my spiritual children.” To see their growth in the knowledge of the Word of God and their love for the church is such a gratifying joy.
Ministry is much like raising your children You pray that your parenting will produce some good adults. And the goal of ministry in a church is to see how God is going to produce for Himself as Ephesians 4:14 “henceforth be no more children tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the sleight of men and cunning craftiness whereby they lie in wait to deceive.” And they will be “unto God a perfect man, unto the measure of the statue of the fulness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:13. You want two things from your children in ministry as well as your own children. First they will “grow up” to be wonderful adults and secondly “will not be disposed of by the world’s craftiness.”
I remember preaching when at FBC, “How To Get Your Christianity Functioning.” (Ephesians 4:l6-20) The objective is to see believers have the internal power (v. 20) the inner strength (vs 16) the indwelling Christ (vs. 17) and the infinite fullness (vs. 19) and an incomprehensible love (vs. 18) for the Lord and the church. So that you continue to observe that fresh continuing love for the Lord Jesus Christ. When Charity and I were back in the church, we saw such character in
the lives of those believers and in their children.
What is the discipline whereby the Lord has designed to accomplish a “perfect man unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ?.” (Ephesians 4:12) I believe it’s the razor-cut teaching of the Word of God.. I came believe that teaching “the doctrines of the Bible” is by far the best method of teaching.
I hear the opposite view from many preachers. I heard this “don’t put your best cookies on the top shelf.” (Whatever that meant). The view illustrates that I have heard most of my life--when you preach, keep it so simple that the third grade child can understand your message. Their minds can’t take more than a twenty minute sermon and keep the theology out of the message. This is why I believe many preachers choose to leave the Bible Text and vacillate (hedge) off into story land.
Mrs. Fail would say, “Pastor, coming here each week is like going to Bible College.” And some of the messages were like going to seminary I must say. Bernice Fail was 80 years old, not eight years old.
Many of the people who came into FBC were folks who did not have a lot of Biblical training. Many were saved at FBC, and their training came from the ministry of FBC. Most of them started off with a course in the “Fundamentals of the Christian Faith.” This course was to be a thirteen week course, but ended up a year’s course. We started off new believers with lessons packed with theological training in the Word of God. We would meet in Kay’s, or Alana’s, or Christy’s home and have a great time studying the Word of God. Today those who came are still active in the Lord’s work.
I did not think I needed to vary off the text very much. Just the opposite, stay on the text and teach each word. I think Eric my son said, “Dad you teach what the periods mean, and what the white space between the verses mean.” Well almost, but each word was addressed as to what they meant within the verse, within the chapter, with in the Book. How could any preacher preach a sermon on any given word, or verse in less than fifty minutes. Uh! Right, Beverly! If you give the historical background, the context background, the grammatical usage of the word, the theological teaching of the word(s) For example: Eph 5:18 word “filled with the Spirit..” (pim i.e. a present imperative, i.e. a command which involves continuous or repeat action). Which means we are to be continuously being filled with the Spirit. You are likely, long after someone is saved, to have the believers continue to be “filled up” with the spiritual psalms, hymn, and songs in our hearts. .
Now, my preachers friends will say, “Charles, you are simply trying to show off your knowledge.” “:Keep your cookies off the top shelf when you are preaching.” If I have heard that idea once, I hear it at every preachers’ meeting I go to.. It seems today, that is the point of view in the post-modern world we live in. Sermons are short, full of stories, little mention of Christ, and certainly keeping your best stuff on the bottom shelf.
Well I will take the critical remarks about my sermons, as long as I see the Lord produce such folks as those who have been or are now members of First Baptist Church in Altoona, Kansas.