Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Yes, and I Will Rejoice

I have been translating and diagramming the book of Philippians in my Intermediate Greek class at seminary. Last week, I worked on 1:15-20, which is a difficult concept to come to grips with. The difficulty is that there are preachers out there proclaiming the Gospel with wrong motives in their hearts or their hearts are not right with God. Paul says that some are preaching out of love and others out of selfish ambition, yet regardless of the situation, Paul is rejoicing that the Gospel is being preached.

I have heard pastors back in the day that wished they were anywhere else other than the pulpit, yet they preached the Gospel. There was no fire or determination in their delivery, yet they proclaimed the Good News. I have heard some pastors that fumbled through their message, not being very good orators, yet they preached the Word.

If Paul can rejoice that the Word is being preached, and again, he said rejoice, then what do I do with this text? Do I lay aside my cynicism about certain preachers? Do I rejoice when someone is apparently preaching heresy or at best, no Gospel at all? I am really struggling with this passage. (That is normally a good thing. I want to study the scriptures so I can understand God's Word better)

I am interested to here what some of you guys think (Peter, Colin, John, Rolland, Paul, Randy) and of course anyone can chime in.


Paul Lamey said...


Paul's point in Phil. 1:12-20 is that Christ is preached. He struggles with the fact that some preach Christ from unstable motives but nevertheless, even in these pretentious preachers, Christ "is" preached.

So to answer your question, this is not a call to overlook actual heresy but to "rejoice" (1:18)when Christ is preached.

I would also add that it is not helpful to use the pulpit to attack the latest heresies that are being promulgated. I believe the regular exaltation of Christ through the preaching of the "next text" (i.e., expository preaching) will not only teach true worship but true discernment. There is a time to point out certain heresies but making it a regular part of our sermons is generally not helpful.

Blessings to you,

Mark said...

Paul, Thanks! Yes, I agree that the pulpit is RARELY the place to point out other heresies. Lifting up Christ through the preaching of the Word is the only way to go.

I knew someone who became an associate pastor of a large church. He was a professional counselor, not a pastor. He even said in a smaller group setting that the money was good and it was something he always thought of doing. He was in it for the money, so to speak. He was a fairly good orator. I guess he would fit the description Paul gave. Christ was preached and in that we can rejoice.

Thanks again,

Randy McRoberts said...

If you figure out how to lay aside cynicism, please let me know how.

I thank you for the reminder that Christ can be lifted up in lots of ways that don't please me. Most of those ways aren't heretical. If Jesus can use heretics to move the gospel forward, surely he can use idiots, too.