Monday, February 5, 2007

In the days of Luther and Calvin, people knew their Bibles. Even if they didn't believe the Bible, they still knew it and knew what was in it. Unfortunately, that could not be farther from the reality of what is found today in the average church pew. Frankly, people don't know their Bible.

We have people who sit in our pews who don't know where the Book of Ephesians may be - and these people grew up in the church. We have people that don't know where the book of Psalms is - and they have been to church all their lives. What does this show?

Our culture is completely biblically illiterate. So what is the difference between the preaching of modern heralders of the Word and Luther and Calvin? Simply that they operated in a world of extreme biblical knowledge. You and I operate in biblical illiteracy. It was a different world then.

Understand this, at that time - during the Reformation and Enlightenment era, these people heard 17,000 hours of preaching in their lifetime. They heard three sermons and one lecture per week. That, simply, is not the case today.

If we are fortunate, people hear just one sermon per week. Much less, 3 sermons and then 1 lecture on top of that.

So what does that mean for us preachers? Always explain your terms. Preach the Gospel. Preach the Glory of Christ. Expect little or nothing from our hearers. We must preach the deep truths of the Word of God, yet at the same time, we must preach in a way that defines our terms, explains our thoughts, and "puts the cookies on the lower shelf." In other words, don't open up your Bibles to Deuteronomy chapter 8 and immediately think that everyone in the congregation knows the exact setting, context, characters, author, date, etc. of that portion of Scripture.

"Preach as though the most learned scholar still has to grapple with the biblical text, yet at the same time, preach as though a young third grader may still understand the simplicity and the glory of the Gospel."
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