23 February 2020 Choosing a Biblical Emphasis While all of the problems we have mentioned heretofore bear weight and deserve a sufficient address, it seems right that something must be held as central, from which no derivation may be allowed, and from which we turn away to our great peril. Why do I hold to this belief? Because it seems that many of the earliest shepherds of the church did so:"I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 2 preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry." 2 Timothy 4:1-5If Christ put His divine interdict on the swearing of oaths, one must think how one could say something with a similar strength and power, without swearing by anything in heaven and earth. In this passage, Timothy receives a charge to do one thing with the kind of language evocative of the day when the sheep separate themselves from the goats, when time is no more, when the books are opened, and all that was put into motion before the foundations of the earth were laid finally comes to fruition. I submit to you that, when such language is used of anything, we must give it our utmost attention. Notice that he does not command him to preach anything else but the content of God's message. The content must be someone else's, namely, God's content, not Timothy's content. Why is this emphasis placed on the preaching of the Word and not the outreach to the poor? Why emphasize this concept of preaching and not church structure? Doubtless, Paul spoke of such things, but did he ever speak of them with this quality of language? With what language did Peter the Rock speak with the Word of God, and what quality of emphasis did he put upon it?"For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 18 And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. 19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." 2 Peter 1:16-21Herein, Peter makes a two-fold emphasis: 1) The Words wherewith he tells of his sight of Jesus on Earth, and 2) the Words of the prophecies of the Old Testament, the Words of the holy men of old. Again, the content of the message is emphasized as coming from God, and even the interpretation of said message is made possible by God. Inherent in the letter is the idea the whole church is required to do this. Nevertheless, from reception(hearing the message), to filtration(interpreting the message), to recitation(delivering the message), the message is God's from first to last. Show me the place where a prophet of old is given liberty to "put a new spin" on the message of God, or where an apostle is able switch around the language of the Gospel to reach his audience. Granted, Paul speaks to the Athenians in the Book of Acts with an appropriate knowledge of their background, but he does not under any circumstances preach to them any other gospel. He realizes that preaching is for the Gospel and the gospel is for preaching, and, when you divorce the two, you no longer possess either of them. With these things made abundantly clear to the quick of ear and soft of heart, we must ask: Do our churches handle the Word with this quality of reverence and devotion, or do we hold other things as more important by the evidence of our words and deeds? What is the content of our preaching? Is it merely moral living, with the aim placed on achieving a certain quality of life? Is it prosperity driven? Is it the social gospel, the emphasis on living in the world with care to our fellow man? Or, is every aspect of preaching driven to God, from God, through God, for His glory? If for no other reason, the Word is of utmost importance for the salvation of souls, for Christ said such in the record of the blessed John: "Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;"Are we continuing in the Word, or do we find other things of greater importance, interest, and aid to human flourishing, such as programs, structures, and? Critical Thought: Can a soul be saved without one to preach the Gospel to them? If so, why? If not, why not?