2 Corinthians 4:1-6
An Open Statement of the Truth
Here is such an instructive statement for ministers of God’s word from the pen of Paul which so desperately needs to be heard today. When comparing himself and his colleagues in the ministry to the traveling “sales-preachers” who wouldn’t leave the Corinthians alone and constantly filled their ears with denunciations of Paul, Paul writes, “We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.”
“By the open statement of the truth,” Paul said. This reminds me of something I learned long ago concerning the preaching of the word of God and it is simply this: The best thing any preacher can do when preaching the word is to GET OUT OF THE WAY. Scripture does not need to be embellished so as to tickle more ears, and it certainly does not to be modified so as to be more receptive to modernity’s more refined and sophisticated understanding of sexual (un)ethics. No. What Scripture needs more than ever before is for preachers to plainly and in unadorned manner proclaim the word of God as it is written. We live in the day of Isaiah when so many must take it from the breast “precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little” (28:10). Oh yes, we have more Bible teachers today than we ever had before, and more resources today than we ever imagined before (thanks to the digital age, from which I suppose these devotions have benefited). But does it all amount to mere garnish? I wonder.
And if we preach the unadorned gospel truth in all of its splendor, what shall be the result? Some will receive and some will not. And given our pagan environment, most will take offense. And why is this? Because we are mean-spirited to say what Scripture says? Because we are too dull to grasp that ancient texts must be reinterpreted (after all, they say, the Bible teaches slavery). No. If they reject (and most will), it is because the gospel “is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, the image of God.”
And so preachers are free, free to not have to make up some new way to present the message or make it more palatable to contemporary audiences; indeed, to the extent they do, they betray the word. Preachers are free to get out of the way and preach, Scriptum est, “It is written.”