I grew up in a home where reading was a pastime. We didn't have a TV, so I spent tens of thousands of hours as a child reading. I spent much of that time reading biblical storybooks, reading bible commentary for youth, and reading the Bible itself. By the age of twelve, I had read through the entirety of the Bible for the first time—I still have the award plaque to prove it!
And I also grew up spending a lot of time listening to numerous preachers speak and teach. When I compared what I was hearing to the ample personal time I had spent reading and studying, something didn't quite line up. I always felt something was off. Not necessarily all wrong, but off. Incomplete. Missing something.
I had heard thousands of sermons and lessons from a variety of Christian traditions.
About the Bible.
About the heroes from the Bible.
About the Church.
About men and the roles they were to play in life and Church.
About women and what women should or shouldn't wear, and what role they could or could not play in life and Church
About the "End Time" and the Tribulation.
About the judgment of God.
About the Holy Spirit.
About gifts of the Holy Spirit.
And the list goes on and on.
And I also heard a lot of teachings about Jesus— who He was, what He did, and His return. And these are all critical things.
But one day, after having been in ministry myself for fifteen years, it hit me like a ton of bricks.
It occurred to me that while the Church spends a lot of time teaching about a variety of topics from the Bible, even about Jesus Himself, we rarely actually teach the topics that Jesus taught or emphasize the things Jesus emphasized. His teachings are not often valued at the level that Scripture commands.
We must understand that Jesus did not just come to die; He came to say something as well.
But he said, "I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent. Luke 4:43
Notice the following:
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things . . . He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. Hebrews 1:1–3
Jesus came to say something, and He took His teachings—His words—very serious:
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. Matthew 24:35
If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels." Mark 8:38
He replied, "My mother and brothers are those who hear God's word and put it into practice." Luke 8:21
It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. John 6:63 ESV
Jesus replied, "If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and keep his word. John 8:54-55
There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day. For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. John 12:48-49
Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. John 14:24
You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. John 15:3
For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. John 17:8
Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. John 17:17
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. John 14:26
Furthermore, Jesus expected His followers to obey His teachings. Remember a Christian is becoming like Christ. We are His disciples. Meaning we are students of His life and teachings.
But in much of today's popular Christianity, devotion and obedience to Jesus' teachings seem optional. Even in many of the churches that claim to be "teaching" churches or "word" churches, they will study all over the Bible, yet somehow conveniently side-step Jesus' teachings.
Now, of course, we would never say that we think Jesus' teachings are optional, but what do our daily actions say?
As preachers and teacher of the gospel, we must return Christ and His message to the center of all that we speak, teach, and communicate. If the only message that people hear is a feel-good motivational speech, with no focus on scriptural correction and Holy Spirit empowerment, they will be unequipped and powerless when it really counts. When all hell breaks loose, will we have the power to prevail?
The teachings of Christ—His values, His words, His principles—must be emphasized in our preaching, regardless of who it offends. It is His message that leads to life. To preach anything less is preaching death. We were instructed to not only make disciples of Jesus, but also teach them to obey everything He commanded. In other words, we must teach the gospels—the words “in red.”
This includes the following:
The cost as well as the benefits of following Him
Denial of self; living to honor God and serve others
Placing Him in the supreme place in our lives
Blessed are the pure in heart, the poor in spirit, the meek, the persecuted
Praying for those who misuse us; blessing those who curse us
Caring for the least among us
Responsibly stewarding money and resources entrusted to us
Dealing with our heart and motives (e.g., lust, hate) not just the externals (e.g., adultery, murder)
Trusting God to care for His children
The Kingdom of God
Heaven and Hell
And a myriad of other themes contained in the gospels
This emphasis on the teachings of Christ and His apostles does not discredit other scripture as less inspired or true. After all, it was the Spirit of Jesus—the Holy Spirit—that spoke through the prophets. It simply means that the Son has most clearly communicated God’s desires for us.
Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament) point forward to Jesus. New Testament letters point back to Jesus. He is the center of it all.
Preachers and teachers, ask yourselves this: Do I spend as much time in prayer seeking the power and demonstration of the Holy Spirit’s influence in my message as I do researching and crafting the words and creative elements I will employ?
If the only message that people hear is a feel-good motivational speech, with no focus on scriptural correction and Holy Spirit empowerment, they will be unequipped and powerless when it really counts. When all hell breaks loose, will we have the power to prevail?
May Jesus return to the supreme place that He was meant to occupy in our teaching and preaching.
This blog is an excerpt from the book Jesus Revival by Jay Morgan. Click here or the button below to purchase yours today.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jay Morgan has been married to his wife Lisa, since 1994. They are the parents of three wonderful children: Jason, Maria and Caleb.
Jay holds an M.A. in Leadership from Indiana Wesleyan University and is a certified Missional Coach, and has been in active, pulpit ministry since the age of 18 and has been a lead Pastor since 2001.
Jay has also founded ministry networks that cultivate a passion for Jesus, Prayer, Revival and Discipleship across states and regions. Fueled by a passion for both the Presence of God and intentional discipleship, Jay desires to see the Church return to wholehearted devotion of Jesus.