Tackling Tough Topics

by John Meador

John MeadorPastors who have a heart for their congregations really want to equip them for life, and in this day and age it is not an easy proposition. Just list the really controversial issues of the day and compare them to the same kind of list of a generation ago-we've come a long way the wrong way!

People are asking questions we don't always feel prepared to answer. Homosexuality, pornography, child molestation, drug and alcohol useand the list goes on and on. Yet this is where our people live, and it is where their conversations take place. If we can't help them know what to say, we're missing the mark of our preaching.

If the church (and the preacher) does not provide a biblical answer to the questions people are asking today, we become irrelevant and people go elsewhere to find their answers. All along, however, there has been and will be a word from God on the question-whatever the question is! The expositional preacher must find that answer and give it to a hungry church and world.

How can a preacher remain committed to biblical exposition and still tackle the tough topics that people are dealing with? Remember, there is nothing new under the sun. What is pulling people away from truth and purity was around in Jesus' day as well. The answers that the prophets, kings, apostles, and Jesus Himself gave are still just as powerful today. That is why we preach the Bible.

While systematic biblical expositioninvolves preaching through entire books of the Bible, general exposition is an approach that can be used powerfully to preach through key topics without preaching the entire book. Using the same kind of background studies, and honoring the text in the same way one would in systematic exposition, the issue that so badly needs addressing can be thoroughly confronted throughgeneral exposition.

Some time ago, the issue of pornography became huge where I was ministering. I felt a deep conviction to bring a clear word from God about the subject. I wanted it to be thoroughly biblical, spiritually powerful, and culturally relevant. I knew that any word of warning that simply came from a man would not do the job. People did not need to hear me saying, "Don't do it." They needed to hear from God. That is why it is so important that we proclaim the Word, as opposed to simply talking about issues.

In my reading, I was led to Proverbs 7, where Solomon warns his son about"a young man lacking sense." With vivid detail and almost shocking imagery, Solomon details the step-by-step path into lustful destruction. He describes the sense of excitement, the appeal to the eyes, touch, smell, and taste. He shows the danger of an impulsive decision by the young man to follow the object of his lust and the resulting shame. Solomon gives a final result of his actions-quite haunting in and of itself:"For many are the victims she has cast down, and numerous are all her slain. Her house is the way to Sheol, descending to the chambers of death" (Prov. 7:26-27).

Reading the passage over and over, I realized God had given a powerful warning about the descent into immorality that had direct applications to the issue of pornography. I didn't have to find a message-it found me.

The power and authority of addressing the issue of pornography from a biblical basis was greater than anything else I could have done as a pastor who wanted men and women to be set free from it. They heard a warning from me, but realized the words were from God. I could speak freely of the certain results of that kind of choice-having been given a clear consequence from God's Word, and they saw a passage they may never have seen before in that light. From that point on, God's Word had a unmistakable message regarding the sin in their lives.

To the preacher who will rely on the sufficiency of God's Word, there will always be an answer to the questions being asked today. It is not a matter of "coming up" with an answer. It is also never a matter of your creativity in how you address it: it is simply a matter of seeing how God has already (and creatively) spoken on the subject, then taking that word and delivering the message to the people.

Such preaching transforms lives.

John Meador is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Euless, Texas.

2011 Disciple 155x50 2011 AMG 155x50
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