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The Conversation Continues

posted Dec 5, 2017, 10:11 AM by First Baptist



Somebody once said that the hardest part of preaching or teaching the Bible is knowing what to leave out. I agree with that!

 

Last Sunday, we studied Isaiah’s vision of the LORD Almighty, seated on His throne, high & exalted (Isaiah 6:1-8). Isaiah immediately became overwhelmed by his sinfulness, but the LORD graciously & mercifully cleansed him. The LORD then asked:

 

“Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?

 

Without knowing what the LORD wanted him to do, Isaiah replied, “Here am I. Send me!”

 

The Rest of the Conversation

 

What I had to leave out Sunday was how the conversation between the LORD & Isaiah continued. Having accepted the LORD’s call to be His spokesperson, the LORD instructed Isaiah to go to the people of Judah and say the following:

 

“’Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”

 

Wow! There are some real theological difficulties with this instruction,* but one thing we know for certain is that the LORD is giving Isaiah a “heads up” that his prophetic ministry would not be well-received. In other words, the people of Judah wouldn’t listen to him and his prophecies would make the people’s hearts even harder. This would end in utter disaster for Judah.

 

Application

 

Since we have the complete written Word (aka the Bible), God no longer sends “prophets” to impart new revelation. Everything we need for salvation and living a life pleasing to God is in the written Word.

 

Instead of prophets, God provides His people with preachers & teachers who have the responsibility of faithfully proclaiming the written Word. This involves explaining the biblical text, applying it to our lives, and then exhorting us to take it to heart.

 

While the responsibility today is much different, the effect is similar.

 

On the one hand, to quote Jonathan Edwards, “[p]reaching is a means of grace to assist the saints to persevere. Perseverance is necessary for final salvation. Therefore, every sermon is a ‘salvation sermon’ – not just because of its aim to convert sinners, but also in its aim to preserve the holy affections of the saints and so enable them to confirm their calling and election and be saved.”

 

Without getting into the weeds of “eternal security,”** Edwards is saying that preaching & teaching is God’s appointed means of PRESERVING His people in their salvation.

 

What about those who profess faith in Christ but neglect His Word? What about the many professing believers today who regularly skip church and have little interest in being instructed in God’s Word? For them, biblical preaching & teaching then becomes a form of judgment upon their lives, hardening their hearts even further, and exposing the speciousness of their profession.

 

 

Pastor Dan

 

*Here again we note and are confounded by the interplay between God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. I ascribe to the doctrine of concurrence, which maintains that both things are true – God is totally sovereign, yet man is responsible for his moral choices.

 

**Eternal security is the doctrine that once a person is genuinely saved, God will keep them saved for the entirety of their lives. Not all Christians agree with this.

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